Sunday, May 18, 2008

191 nations to convene for conference aimed at stemming damage to global biodiversity

International Herald Tribune, via AP: A two-week conference aimed at ensuring the survival of global biodiversity in the face of climate change and pollution gets under way in Germany on Monday. The protection of flora, fauna and even food sources will be on the agenda of the 191 governments attending the ninth conference of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn.

Officials will also review the goals set in 2002 at the U.N. Earth Summit, which called for slowing the loss of biological diversity by 2010 — a target that critics contend is far out of reach given a growing human population, rising levels of pollution and climate change.

Organizers also hope the conference will help find new ways to ease the rapid rise in food costs, which has sparked violent protests in Haiti and Egypt. There is also concern that unrest could take place elsewhere amid profiteering and hoarding. Food prices have been driven to record highs recently by a variety of factors, including a spike in the cost of petroleum products, including those used in fertilizers and processing.

…"Renewing agricultural diversity of crops and livestock backed by a functional natural support system is the international community's best long-term solution to meet the global food challenge," Ahmed Djoghlaf, the executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said before the conference this week.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's environment minister, told lawmakers earlier this month that the loss of biodiversity signaled a severe economic threat that was on par with climate change. He said that "effective measures" had to emerge from the Bonn meeting so as to make a real impact.

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