Major UN biodiversity conference convenes in The Hague
Forests, genetic resources and invasive alien species top the agenda
UN PRESS RELEASE
The Hague, March 2002 - Ministers, senior officials and experts from 182 Governments plus the European Union are meeting here from 7 to 19 April to strengthen global cooperation on managing the Earth's biological resources.
This conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity will focus on achieving three priority results:
- A stepped-up war against invasive alien species - the number two cause (after habitat destruction) of extinction and biodiversity loss (see page 4);
- Adoption of the first-ever guidelines giving international companies and organizations access to genetic resources (such as plants for producing new pharmaceuticals) in return for a fair share of the profits and benefits going to the country of origin and local communities (see page 6); and
- Stronger economic incentives to convince companies and other stakeholders to pursue business opportunities that will help reverse the tide of deforestation (see page 8).
The two-week meeting, which will be attended by some 2,000 participants, will also evaluate progress and set new goals for the Convention's various work programmes. In addition to the priority focus on forests, the meeting will review the work programmes on inland waters, marine and coastal, dry and sub-humid lands and agricultural biodiversity (see page 10).
Other agenda items address so-called "cross-cutting" issues that are relevant to many ecosystems. In addition to the priority issues of invasive alien species and access and benefit-sharing, these include traditional knowledge, the ecosystem approach, the Global Taxonomy Initiative, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, monitoring and assessments, and liability (see page 11).
The conference, known formally as the Sixth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 6), will be followed from 22 to 26 April by the Third Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP 3).
The world's biological diversity is a vast and undervalued resource. Biodiversity encompasses every form of life, from the smallest microbe to the largest animal, plus the ecosystems that they form. It underpins the natural processes that help to minimize soil erosion, stabilize climate, purify water and air and recycle carbon and nutrients.
Biological diversity also sustains humanity with an abundance of goods and services, from food, medicines, clothing, fiber and energy to the genes that help us to fight pests and diseases. It has been estimated that some 40% of the world economy is derived directly from biodiversity.
Recognizing the importance of biodiversity to our daily lives and the pressure that human activities are placing on our living world, governments meeting under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992 as a framework for action.
The Convention seeks to reverse the tide of destruction that humanity has wrought upon the natural world by integrating environmental conservation with economic development. "Sustainable development" must be pursued so that the earth's renewable resources are not consumed so intensively that they cannot replenish themselves.
The Convention's contributions to the World Summit on Sustainable Development include the issues cited above as well as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the implementation of the ecosystem approach, the development of inter-agency cooperation, and the establishment of a forum for indigenous and local communities (see page 13).
Note to journalists: COP 6 will start at 15h on Sunday, 7 April, at the Netherlands Congress Center in The Hague. The high-level segment for ministers and other senior officials will take place from 17 to 18 April. Accreditation forms, official documents, and other information are posted at www.biodiv.org/meetings/cop-06.asp. For further information, please contact Michael Williams at +41-22-917-8242 / 8244 / 8196, +41-79-409-1528 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Cristina Stricker at +1-514-287-7031 or
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