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Parties to UN pact on plant, animal diversity agree to steps to prevent species loss

Parties to UN pact on plant, animal diversity agree to steps to prevent species loss

The 191 countries to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed today on a set of measures to advance progress toward the internationally agreed target to reduce the rate of loss of the world's animal and plant species.

The parties to the Convention, meeting in Bonn, Germany, also agreed on new steps to increase the global network of protected areas and to negotiate an international set of rules on access to and sharing of the benefits of the rich genetic resources of the world.

“We are less than two years from 2010, the year that Heads of State determined to be the target for substantially reducing the rate of biodiversity loss,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

“With the world losing species at an unprecedented rate, this is a very difficult target to meet, but the agreements in Bonn – the Bonn Biodiversity Compact – if implemented expeditiously by all stakeholders, will go a long way to help us meet our goals.”

At present, the world is losing plant and animal species at a rate between 100 and 1000 times the natural extinction rate. The loss of species diminishes the genetic resources available for medical advances, ensuring a secure food supply and making certain that the world's ecosystems can provide the necessary functions that are essential for life.

More than 6,000 people participated in the two-week Conference, including three world leaders and 87 ministers who exchanged best practices and discussed proposals for accelerating action on biodiversity.

Delegates agreed on a number of measures that support conservation measures, ways to ensure its sustainable use, and a set of rules to ensure that benefits from the use of genetic resources are shared equitably.

They also agreed on a firm process towards establishing international rules on access to genetic resources and the equitable sharing of benefits from their use. For years, countries had not been able to reach consensus on the nature of such rules and whether any elements would be legally binding. The meeting produced a plan for the negotiations that not only sets out a clear road map leading up to 2010, but also provides a shortlist of options as to which elements should be legally binding.

In addition, countries agreed to develop a global network of protected areas that would ensure the conservation of biodiversity. The move would expand the move to protect areas rich in biodiversity – already 11 per cent of Earth's land surface.