'Ten years' to solve nature crisis, UN meeting hears
The UN biodiversity convention meeting has opened with warnings that the ongoing loss of nature is hurting human societies as well as the natural world.
The two-week gathering aims to set new targets for conserving life on Earth.
Japan’s Environment Minister Ryo Matsumoto said biodiversity loss would become irreversible unless curbed soon.
Much hope is being pinned on economic analyses showing the loss of species and ecosystems is costing the global economy trillions of dollars each year.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), described the meeting in Nagoya, Japan, as a “defining moment” in the history of mankind.
“[Buddhist scholar] Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki said ‘the problem of nature is the problem of human life’. Today, unfortunately, human life is a problem for nature,” he told delegates in his opening speech.
Referring to the target set at the UN World Summit in 2002, he said:
“Let’s have the courage to look in the eyes of our children and admit that we have failed, individually and collectively, to fulfil the Johannesburg promise made by 110 heads of state to substantially reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010.
“Let us look in the eyes of our children and admit that we continue to lose biodiversity at an unprecedented rate, thus mortgaging their future.”
Earlier this year, the UN published a major assessment - the Global Biodiversity Outlook - indicating that virtually all trends spanning the state of the natural world were heading downwards, despite conservation successes in some regions.
It showed that loss and degradation of forests, coral reefs, rivers and other elements of the natural world was having an impact on living standards in some parts of the world - an obvious example being the extent to which loss of coral affects fish stocks.
In his opening speech, Mr Matsumoto suggested impacts could be much broader in future.
“All life on Earth exists thanks to the benefits from biodiversity in the forms of fertile soil, clear water and clean air,” he said.
“We are now close to a ‘tipping point’ - that is, we are about to reach a threshold beyond which biodiversity loss will become irreversible, and may cross that threshold in the next 10 years if we do not make proactive efforts for conserving biodiversity.”