21 September 2010
General Assembly
GA/10990
ENV/DEV/1156

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release


High-level General Assembly Meeting, 22 September, to Spur Action Aimed

 

at Stemming Further Loss of Biological Diversity

 


With the continuing loss of biodiversity representing a major obstacle to attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations General Assembly will consider strategies for speeding up the implementation of measures to protect and conserve species and ecosystems around the world.


A one-day high-level meeting on 22 September, taking place during the International Year of Biodiversity and coinciding with the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals Summit, comes at a time when studies show that, as a result of human activities, species are being lost at a rate estimated to be up to 100 times the natural rate of extinction.


The high-level meeting on biodiversity aims to spur action by Member States, together with the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, to consider, "on the basis of the latest science, the status and trends of biodiversity, the risks that the continued loss of biodiversity represent for human well-being, development and security and the necessary strategies and measures to reduce such risks".


According to Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, a report issued earlier this year, wild vertebrate species declined by an average of nearly one third globally between 1970 and 2006, with the sharpest loss occurring in the tropics.  In the past century, 35 per cent of mangroves, 40 per cent of forests and 50 per cent of wetlands have been lost.  The change in the abundance and distribution of species, compounded by climate change, has serious consequences for human societies and is moving ecosystems ever closer to thresholds, or "tipping points", beyond which their services will be seriously undermined.


"This is an important moment for countries to focus on reversing the loss of our biodiversity," said Joseph Deiss, President of the United Nations General Assembly.  "We can no longer ignore the continuing destruction of the ecosystems that not only provide us with material services such as food, medicine and carbon sinks, but also sustain humanity in our spiritual and emotional well-being.  Fortunately, strategies exist for protecting and preserving our planet's rich biodiversity.  We now need countries to implement these strategies."


The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which has been signed and ratified by almost all Member States, has played an important role in developing approaches to address biodiversity.  However, implementation has lagged, and the world did not meet the 2010 target for reducing the biodiversity loss.


Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said the General Assembly meeting would provide an important boost for the upcoming Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP-10) in Nagoya, Japan, next month.  COP-10, he said, is expected to adopt a new strategic plan for 2011-2020, including a 2020 biodiversity target and a 2050 biodiversity vision.


Mr. Djoghlaf said that meeting the challenge of continuous biodiversity loss compounded by climate change requires unprecedented coordinated efforts at all levels, and with the full engagement of all stakeholders without exception.  "The unprecedented New York Biodiversity Summit is a clear demonstration of the will of the leaders of the world to provide leadership and to lead by example in ensuring that our common planet will continue providing its necessary goods and services for the benefit of present and future generations."


Further Information


About the Convention on Biological Diversity:  www.cbd.int; about the International Year of Biodiversity:  www.cbd.int/2010; Facebook for the International Year of Biodiversity:  www.facebook.com/IYB2010; about the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit:  www.cbd.int/cop10; David Ainsworth, Information Officer, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, tel. +1 514 287 7025, or e-mail david.ainsworth@cbd.int; Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel. +1 212 963 9495, or e-mail shepard@un.org.


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For information media • not an official record