Secretary-General stresses importance of biodiversity to human health

Kofi Annan

23 August 2005 – Failure to conserve and use biological diversity in a sustainable manner would result in degrading environments, new and more rampant illnesses, deepening poverty and a continued pattern of inequitable and untenable growth, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today in a message to an international forum on biodiversity and health.

“Unfortunately, our actions run the risk of taking humanity down this path,” Mr. Annan said in a statement released by his office today to mark the start of the First International Conference on the Importance of Biodiversity to Human Health in Galway, Ireland.

“Over the last 50 years, pollution, climate change, degradation of habitats and the overexploitation of natural resources led to more rapid losses of biological diversity than at any other time in human history,” the statement said.

The Secretary-General also noted that it was important for conference participants to put forward recommendations to guide the international community towards achieving truly sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set up by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000.

This set of eight goals range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by 2015.

“The Goals embody the hopes of all people for a world without hunger and poverty, where all live in freedom, with dignity and equity. Biodiversity is crucial to those hopes, especially in the area of health,” the Secretary-General’s statement also said.

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