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NAGOYA, JAPAN, Oct 18 2010 (IPS) - At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro held in June 1992, which witnessed the birth of the Convention on Biological Diversity, former Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa stated “Our joint endeavor to protect the global environment has just been launched. The real challenge is how we can translate our political will here in Rio into future actions to save the Earth. However steep the climb may be, we must move forward.” Eighteen years later, the need to translate political commitments into concrete action is just as pressing. As Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara stated at the High-Level Event on Biodiversity of the recent UN General Assembly, “for the future generations to inherit the benefits of nature, it is imperative that we specifically indicate collective actions over the next 10 years.”

Aichi Nagoya Biodiversity Summit (October 24-26), the historical 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, is indeed the perfect forum and the ideal place to shape and agree on as a human family the post 2010 biodiversity strategy with a view of stopping and reversing the unprecedented loss of biodiversity compounded by climate change.

The third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, issued early this year based on information contained in national reports submitted by 120 governments, demonstrated that the 2010 biodiversity target has not been met and we continue to lose biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. It is estimated that the current loss of biodiversity may be 1000 times higher than the natural background of extinction. The report also warns that irreversible degradation may take place if ecosystems are pushed beyond certain tipping points, leading to the widespread loss of ecosystem services that we depend on greatly. It predicts that the status of biodiversity for the million years to come will be determined by the action or inaction of human species in the decade to come.

The 193 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and their partners have the mission to adopt a new biodiversity strategy with a 2050 vision and a 2020 target and sub targets. They will be guided by the strong message addressed to them by the heads of state and government who attended the first ever High-Level Event of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on 22 September 2010. They will be inspired by the Geneva Call for Urgent Action on Biodiversity adopted on 3 September by the Ministers and their representatives of 11 countries that have hosted or will host a Conference of the Parties.

The Participants to the Biodiversity Summit have also individually and collectively an obligation to translate within two years this new vision into national biodiversity strategies and actions plans. They have an obligation to do so before the next Conference of the Parties to be held in New Delhi in October 2012 a few weeks after the Rio plus 20 Summit.

The participants will have also an obligation to mainstream the three objectives of the Convention into economic sectors by elevating biodiversity to a priority of their development plans and processes. Indeed biodiversity is an integral component to achieving sustainable development and alleviating poverty. Indeed 1.6 billion people are estimated to depend substantially on forest biodiversity for their survival and livelihood. And, yet, about 13 million hectares of the worldÂ’s forests are lost due to deforestation each year.

Biodiversity loss affects all regions of the world, but mostly economically disadvantaged areas, where there are many people living in extreme conditions, with little access to water, sanitation, livelihoods, and education. These are basic human needs and rights and they are dependent on the availability of natural resources on the planet. As Gro Harlem Brundtland stated, ‘You cannot tackle hunger, disease, and poverty unless you can also provide people with a healthy ecosystem in which their economies can grow.’ This wisdom has been reiterated last month in New York by the world leaders at the 10 year review Summit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It will be the important achievement of the Aichi Nagoya Summit to conclude the 8-year negotiation on the international regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources and to adopt the International Protocol on ABS. It will make a major contribution to achieving the MDGs by implementing the third objective of the Convention: ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources. Access and benefit-sharing refers to the way genetic resources ­whether plant, animal or microorganism­ are accessed in countries of origin, and how the benefits that result from their use by various research institutes, universities or private companies are shared with the people or countries that provide them. This historical achievement calls for political will of all Parties and their partners including the business community and indigenous and local communities to engage in good faith with one another and display the necessary spirit of compromise in the long term interest of humanity and its environment.

The Provision of financial resources is crucial for the implementation of the Nagoya biodiversity compact. The heads of bilateral and multilateral donor agencies have been invited to be part of the global alliance for protecting life on earth. They cannot miss this opportunity to make a difference to transform the traditional Official Development Assistance into the instrument of peace and prosperity of tomorrow.

There is no time for delay to agree on our collective actions, for we owe future generations a healthy environment. In responding to our mission and implementing our obligation as citizens of the world gathered in Nagoya under the motto Living in Harmony into the Future, let us be guided and inspired by wisdom of the host of the Curitiba biodiversity meeting: “We know the problem and we have the tools. What is lacking is the political will and concrete action. Never before have so many ministers gathered to consider the fate of biodiversity. Never before have they had such a complete analysis of the threats and options. Never before have politicians had so few reasons not to act”. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

(*) Ryu Matsumoto is the Minister of the Environment of Japan and Ahmed Djoghlaf is the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

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