The Executive Secretary of the United Nations-managed Convention on Biological Diversity has called for all people to unite in preserving the planet’s many species and ecosystems.
“During the past 50 years we have squandered one-fourth of the world's topsoil, one-fifth of its agricultural land, and one-third of its forests, while at the same time increasing our population from 2.5 billion to over 6.1 billion,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, who heads the treaty’s Montreal-based secretariat. “We simply cannot sustain life on earth if we proceed at this rate,” he warned.
The 52-year old Algerian diplomat voiced confidence that the pact could provide a remedy. “The Convention has the unique potential to establish a genuine partnership for sustainable development, with all stakeholders and with all countries of the world, without exception.”
The year 2010 was set as a target date for environmental progress by national leaders participating in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Recalling this, Mr. Djoghlaf called for stepped-up efforts to reach stated objectives. “We need to galvanize and more deeply engage with all facets of national and international society, including governments, local authorities, women, children, youth, indigenous and local communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business, industry, scientific community and all other members of civil society,” he said.
The Convention is a pact among the vast majority of the world's governments to conserve biological diversity, use its components wisely and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits generated by genetic resources.
Practical steps taken by the treaty’s parties include biodiversity action plans in over 100 countries and the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international regulatory framework for the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.