Convention on Biological Diversity

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.

In 1988 the UN put together a study group concerned with the loss of biodiversity. In 1992 this group (and its descendants)  wrote the convention which was signed by 168 nations and entered into force at the end of 1993. By now there are 192 signatories, and three nations which have not signed. One of those three is the US.

We should be ashamed.

At Copenhagen last winter Obama talked about “our responsibilities to leave our children and grandchildren a cleaner and safer planet”, but as far as I know there has been no attempt even to bring this treaty before the Senate. At least climate change was discussed (although nothing came of it).

Biodiversity loss is vital. It’s a poor pun, but it is true. The most recent Global Biodiversity Outlook (published in May, 2010) warns that our eco-systems are approaching tipping points after which they will no longer be able to support us.

2010 is the “International year of Biodiversity.” The signatories to the convention agreed that by 2010 there would be significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss. Yet Ahmed Djoghlaf, the secretary-general of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity says “What we are seeing today is a total disaster. No country has met its targets to protect nature. We are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. If current levels [of destruction] go on we will reach a tipping point very soon. The future of the planet now depends on governments taking action in the next few years.”

The next meeting starts 18 October.


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