Deputy Secretary-General Tells Panel on Gender and Biodiversity of Need to Invest in Preserving ‘Natural Capital’

2 July 2010

Deputy Secretary-General Tells Panel on Gender and Biodiversity of Need to Invest in Preserving ‘Natural Capital’

2 July 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Tells Panel on Gender and Biodiversity


of Need to Invest IN Preserving ‘Natural Capital’


Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s Remarks to the Expert Panel on Gender and Biodiversity, in New York today, 2 July:

I am pleased to participate in this Panel on Gender and Biodiversity.

This year is not only the International Year of Biodiversity — it is the deadline by which the world had pledged to substantially reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.  The 2010 target will not be met.  Indeed, the global decline in biodiversity is accelerating.

Science tells us that our actions have pushed extinctions to 1,000 times the natural background rate.  We must slow the decline.  We must invest in preserving our natural capital.  As the slogan of the International Year tells us, biodiversity is life — it is our life.

Later this year, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a high-level segment on biodiversity.  We will also have a Summit on the Millennium Development Goals.  We must use these events and this International Year to send a clear message to the Nagoya meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in October.

The biodiversity crisis is worsening.  We need a new strategy that better links climate change, biodiversity and the Millennium Development Goals.  We need concrete targets and a new vision for conserving Earth’s biological diversity for the benefit of all.

And that vision must encompass gender.  Too often the gender component of development is overlooked.  To its credit, the preamble to the Convention on Biological Diversity recognizes “the vital role that women play in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity”.  It also affirms “the need for the full participation of women at all levels of policymaking and implementation for biological diversity conservation”.

The challenge is to turn these lofty words into on-the-ground reality.  All around the globe, women are central to preserving biodiversity.  They manage land, they manage resources, and often have specialized knowledge about the medicinal and other benefits that can be derived from various species.

Across the developing world women farmers are responsible for between 60 and 80 per cent of food production.  Yet their contribution is inadequately represented in decision-making, whether at the kitchen table or in the corridors of power.

At the same time, women and girls are often disproportionately disadvantaged by biodiversity loss, by land degradation, by climate change, and by the deepening poverty that these cause.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is one reason the General Assembly will meet today to adopt its resolution to merge the four United Nations gender entities into one.

If the resolution is passed, the entity — to be known as “UN Women” — will significantly boost United Nations efforts to help Member States to promote gender equality, expand opportunity and tackle discrimination around the globe.  It is also an important step in our wider effort to strengthen UN system-wide coherence to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

One of those challenges is reducing biodiversity loss.  As with most of our challenges, it has an important gender dimension.  To be successful, to be effective, conservation policies and programmes must explicitly take into account the opinions, needs and interests of both women and men.

I trust that this Panel will meaningfully contribute to this debate as we prepare for the major biodiversity summits that will mark this International Year of Biodiversity.

I wish you a fruitful discussion.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.