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Economic Crisis Casts Shadow Over Biodiversity Talks

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http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/economic-crisis-casts-shadow-over-biodiversity-talks/551489 The global economic crisis cast its shadow over UN talks that closed in India on Saturday after two weeks of intense wrangling on funding to reverse the decline of Earth’s natural resources. A deal was finally signed a day later than planned, after a succession of late-night sessions that pitted rich countries reticent to fork out more cash as they try to balance the books, against poor ones. Several traditional donor countries cited the world’s economic troubles as a factor in the talks, held under the auspices of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). “Countries like us in difficult financial times are making big sacrifices with taxpayers’ money. We want to make sure... that we are not leaving ourselves open to putting greater burden on our taxpayers,” British Environment Minister Richard Benyon told AFP on the penultimate day of the negotiations. In the end, the deadlock was broken and developed states pledged to double by 2015 the aid they provide to poor countries for biodiversity projects, compared to a baseline of average annual aid in the period 2006-2010. No figures were mentioned, but observer groups believed the new annual figure would amount to about $10 billion (8 billion euros) per year — just 10 percent of what global consumers spent on chocolate last year. Some negotiators, especially in the European Union, hailed the deal as a symbolic breakthrough in tough times. “In the context of the financial crisis, this is a good deal,” French Environment Minister Delphine Batho told AFP. Yet CBD member countries lamented that “the lack of sufficient financial resources” was hampering progress on biodiversity, urging one another to “consider all possible sources and means that can help to meet the level of resources needed”. Many observers believe the pledge is not nearly enough, and warned a failure to pay up now could spell disaster. “Ef

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									The global economic crisis cast
its shadow over UN talks that
closed in India on Saturday after
two weeks of intense wrangling on
funding to reverse the decline of
Earth’s natural resources.

A deal was finally signed a day
later than planned, after a
succession of late-night sessions
that pitted rich countries reticent
to fork out more cash as they try
to balance the books, against poor
ones.
Several traditional donor countries cited the
world’s economic troubles as a factor in the talks,
held under the auspices of the UN’s Convention
on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“Countries like us in difficult financial times are
making big sacrifices with taxpayers’ money. We
want to make sure... that we are not leaving
ourselves open to putting greater burden on our
taxpayers,” British Environment Minister
Richard Benyon told AFP on the penultimate
day of the negotiations.
In the end, the deadlock was broken and developed states
pledged to double by 2015 the aid they provide to poor countries
for biodiversity projects, compared to a baseline of average
annual aid in the period 2006-2010.

No figures were mentioned, but observer groups believed the
new annual figure would amount to about $10 billion (8 billion
euros) per year — just 10 percent of what global consumers
spent on chocolate last year.

Some negotiators, especially in the European Union, hailed the
deal as a symbolic breakthrough in tough times.

“In the context of the financial crisis, this is a good deal,”
French Environment Minister Delphine Batho told AFP.
Yet CBD member countries lamented that “the lack of
sufficient financial resources” was hampering progress on
biodiversity, urging one another to “consider all possible
sources and means that can help to meet the level of resources
needed”.

Many observers believe the pledge is not nearly enough, and
warned a failure to pay up now could spell disaster.

“Efforts to conserve nature must be urgently scaled up if we
want to meet the 2020 deadline to save all life on Earth,” the
International Union for Conservation of Nature said.

Earlier in the week, the union had added 400 animals and
plants to its authoritative “Red List” of species at risk of
extinction.
A quarter of the world’s mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41
percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building corals
are now at risk of dying out, according to the list.

“If we do not invest in nature now, the cost will be
tremendous in terms of the loss of our global biodiversity
and the vital ecosystem services it provides for humanity,”
said Conservation International biodiversity head Lina
Barrera.

Conservation group WWF said about $200 billion must
be invested in biodiversity annually if the world is to meet
the targets it set two years ago to turn back the loss of
species and habitat that humans rely on for food, water and
livelihoods.
“What’s been agreed in Hyderabad represents less than half this
number.”
Environment talks in Rio de Janeiro in June and a succession
of UN climate conferences have been marked by a failure to
meet funding targets.

“We have a global economic crisis that is of course more urgent
in Europe than anywhere else, and Europe has always been the
leading political bloc in these negotiations,” WWF executive
director for conservation Lasse Gustavsson, told AFP.
“Environment negotiations have always been orchestrated by the
EU. It is not happening here and it was not happening in Rio.”
UN Environment Program executive director Achim
Steiner said economic woes had affected the global
commitment to solving the planet’s ills, “which risks eroding
the ability of nations to act collectively in addressing
fundamental environmental challenges”.

Yet “the incentives to invest — both economic and
environmental — are clearer than ever”, he said.
The economic crisis hit at a time that environment issues
were starting to gain serious ground on the global agenda.

While the environment, global warming and biodiversity may
not have been completely abandoned, observers feel things
have not moved as quickly as they should have.
Countries decided at the last CBD conference in Nagoya,
Japan, two years ago on an ambitious 20-point plan to turn back
the tide of biodiversity depletion by 2020.

The so-called Aichi Biodiversity Targets include halving the rate
of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas under conservation,
preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and
restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems.
But the plan has been hamstrung by a lack of cash for
conservation, research, and the creation of green business
alternatives.
“The need for the world’s nations to come together to implement the
Aichi Targets grows more pressing with widespread extinction
increasing every year,” said Conservation International president
Russell Mittermeier.

								
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