With biological diversity now recognized as crucial to sustainable development and the eradication of poverty, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says "the consequences of failing to stop the loss of biodiversity are too awful to contemplate."
In a message for International Day for Biological Diversity, which is observed tomorrow, Mr. Annan calls for national policies and new additional financial and technical resources to support international treaties such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which seeks to protect natural biological diversity from organisms modified by modern biotechnology.
"Our highest priority should be to guarantee the health and effective functioning of the earth's life support systems - on land, in the seas and in the air," he says, stressing that biological diversity provides the basic goods and ecological services on which all life depends.
He also underlines biodiversity's importance in the Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets set by the UN summit in 2000 seeking, among other aims, to reduce poverty and hunger by at least half and manage the environment for the benefit of present and future generations by 2015.
This year's theme - "Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All" - underlines biodiversity's importance in ensuring food security and adequate supplies of water, and in protecting the wide array of traditional medicines and modern pharmaceuticals that are based on the world's biological riches, he says.