WORLD "NEEDS NEW WILDLIFE BODY "

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WORLD "NEEDS NEW WILDLIFE BODY "

 user 2006-07-20 at 11:18:00 am Views: 73
  • #16058

    World ‘needs new wildlife body’
    The
    world needs a new global organisation dedicated to stemming the loss of
    plant and animal species.That is the argument put forward by a group of
    eminent academics in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.They
    call for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Panel on
    Biodiversity (IPB) to parallel the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
    Change (IPCC).Recent studies show continuing loss of biodiversity, with
    the hippo and polar bear just added to the danger list.The 2006 Red
    List of Threatened Species showed more than 16,000 plants and animals
    sliding towards their demise, including a third of amphibian species
    and a quarter of mammals.”The international community is failing on its
    biodiversity targets,” said Alfred Oteng-Yeboah from the Council for
    Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Ghanaian government’s
    science advisory body.It’ll need significant investment – we’re not
    sure exactly how much, but certainly more than anybody has given us
    Jeffrey McNeely, IUC “And we see [the new body] as a process to
    actually move the actions forward, to ensure that people get engaged in
    all kinds of activity that will actually halt the loss of
    biodiversity,” he told the BBC News website from Accra.Dr Oteng-Yeboah
    is one of the 19 signatories of the Nature letter, who also include
    former IPCC head Robert Watson from the World Bank, and the towering
    figure of Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
    Slow progress
    The
    Convention on Biological Diversity, spawned by the Rio de Janeiro Earth
    Summit in 1992, commits governments to achieving at least a significant
    reduction in the rate of species and ecosystem loss by 2010.But year
    after year, with the publication of successive Red Lists and numerous
    other authoritative scientific reports, it becomes clear that progress
    is not fast enough to meet that goal.Equally clear is the knock-on
    impact on human livelihoods, particularly in developing nations.As the
    Nature letter puts it: “Because biodiversity loss is essentially
    irreversible, it poses serious threats to sustainable development and
    the quality of life of future generations.”The Millennium Ecosystem
    Assessment, a vast four-year international research programme which
    began to report its findings last year, found that two-thirds of
    “ecosystem services” – the benefits which humans derive from the
    natural world – are being eroded.Even when these services could be
    protected, they often are not, sometimes because policymakers are not
    acting on the available science.”One of the most dramatic examples is
    mangroves,” said Jeffrey McNeely, chief scientist with the World
    Conservation Union (IUCN).”Scientists including economists have made it
    very clear that mangroves are incredibly valuable as mangroves, much
    more valuable than they are as shrimp farms,” he told the BBC News
    website.”But because of political reasons, mangroves get converted into
    shrimp ponds which produce cheap shrimps for export at the cost of
    long-term environmental protection.”
    Many bodies
    Several
    global bodies with a remit to reduce biodiversity loss already exist,
    including the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), the
    Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and IUCN, which publishes the
    Red Lists.    
    WHAT ARE THE THREATS?
    Human activities threaten 99% of Red List species
    Habitat loss and degradation are the main threats, affecting more than 80% of listed birds, mammals and amphibians
    Climate change is increasingly recognised as a serious threat
    Other issues relating to human activity include introduction of alien species, over-exploitation and pollution
    All
    involve a majority of the world’s governments, and IUCN in particular
    is closely linked with conservation bodies in the academic and NGO
    spheres.Initiatives to build a new global biodiversity alliance have
    been underway for a few years now, and were given a huge boost last
    year by the French president Jacques Chirac, who spoke approvingly of
    the concept at a conference in Paris.Even by the standards of the
    jargon-laden conservation community, the name of the initiative – the
    Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism Of Scientific
    Expertise on Biodiversity (Imoseb) – is a real mouthful.Now, through
    the Nature letter, the concept has acquired a new name, the
    Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity (IPB).Jeffrey McNeely, who was
    not a signatory on the letter in Nature, supports the idea.
    He
    believes the key issue is to integrate science with policymaking, in a
    body that could co-ordinate and commission research with the full
    involvement of governments which would have to decide whether to
    implement its recommendations.But, he said, it would need money and
    political commitment on a level which governments have not yet
    displayed on biodiversity if it is to succeed. “We, the IUCN, would
    love to be able to play this role, but nobody funds us to play this
    role,” he said.”So to be realistic, we’re willing to be part of a
    larger group of institutions and governments who are willing to put in
    the necessary funds to make this happen.”It’s not going to be cheap;
    it’ll need significant investment – we’re not sure exactly how much,
    but certainly more than anybody has given us.”The proposed new body,
    Imoseb or IPB, may arise from the ongoing process of UN reform that
    could also re-write Unep’s mandate.In the end, the success of any
    international attempt to stem biodiversity loss will have less to do
    with internal structures and acronyms than with the will of funding and
    regulating governments.The parallel of climate change leads to thoughts
    of the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts, among other things, to sanction
    governments that miss targets on greenhouse gas emissions.Should, or
    could, a biodiversity agreement ever emerge with similar teeth? If it
    did, would those teeth slowly be pulled, as have those of Kyoto, when
    uncomfortable political realities became clear?