UN environment chief issues clarion call to save biodiversity

26 January 2005

With more than 7,000 animal species and 60,000 plant species threatened, the top United Nations environment official warned today that the target of significantly reducing the rate of loss in biodiversity by 2010 would not be met without strong science and effective governance mechanisms.

Some scientists estimate that the current rate of extinction is a thousand times greater than at any other time in the course of humanity’s development.

“If we fail to demonstrate measurable success by 2010, political commitment will be undermined, public interest will be lost, investment in biodiversity research and management will be reduced, environmental institutions will be further weakened,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer told the Paris International Conference on Biodiversity, Science and Governance.

“In UNEP we are ready to play our part,” he added, referring to the 2010 target date set by world leaders at the 2001 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The conference, hosted by the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), aims to take stock of the current knowledge, shortcomings and controversial issues with a view to opening up a dialogue between scientists, politicians, and economic decision-makers on the management of biodiversity.

Bringing together over 1,000 participants, it is focusing on the core governance and research issues of biodiversity. Panellists will discuss the development of global management of biodiversity and the establishment of a scientific consensus on which political decisions can be based.

 

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