Sunday, June 13, 2010

Scientists upbeat about global biodiversity panel

Anne Chaon in Agence France-Presse: More than 90 countries have approved the creation of a scientific panel on biodiversity, the dream of many scientists around the world. The panel will peer-review scientific research on biodiversity and ecosystems to ensure governments are receiving top-level information and advice, and are able to act more decisively to reverse various trends in the natural world.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, as it has been called provisionally, was "the dream of many scientists", now made reality, said Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general. The IPBES "represents a major breakthrough in terms of organizing a global response to the loss of living organisms and forests, freshwaters, coral reefs and other ecosystems," Steiner added.

Steiner is also head of the UN Environment Programme that oversaw the talks in South Korea where the plans were approved on Friday. Such an expert body on biodiversity has, according to many experts, become vital as the earth is on the brink of a sixth major wave of extinction.

The current rate of species extinction as a result of human activity is more than 100 times faster than the rate of natural extinction, according to the UN. "We must be fully aware that the disappearance of biodiversity plays a decisive role in development," said Chantal Jouanno, French secretary of state for ecology, "the stakes for the future of humanity" are high, she added. The IPBES "should enable us to measure our dependence on biodiversity and give us ways of responding," the minister said….

Lucas Cranach the elder, "Paradise," 1536

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