Protection of Life on Earth hangs in balance after Global Summit

Business Press Releases Friday February 20, 2004 14:20
Bangkok--Feb 20--Greenpeace

As the UN Convention on protecting the world's rich biodiversity ended today, Greenpeace declared that the future for many threatened plants and animals still hangs in the balance. On paper, over 180 Governments have agreed on a global action plan to protect these species, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples.   However, no strong commitment has been made to either implement immediately or fund this work.   Without funding or a commitment by national governments for implementation, the Convention on Biological Diversity is at risk of becoming a paper tiger.

"The Plan to establish a global network of protected areas is commendable and provides governments with a strong set of tools to stop the deaths of many species and the destruction of forests and the depletion of our oceans," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace.   "But unless national governments take this seriously at home and provide the financial support needed to make all of this work, it's like being given the toolbox and refusing to open it."

According to Greenpeace, unless the decisions made during the CBD are implemented at a national level immediately, the agreement will be worthless.

For the first time ever, the world's governments agreed to establish a global network of protected areas by 2010 on land and by 2012 in the world's oceans - protected areas which could be the centrepiece of a program to stop the unprecedented loss of species and habitats occurring today. Although the Convention did not go far enough to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, government officials did agree that indigenous groups and local communities deserved to have full participation in any kind of decision-making processes.

A third positive development is that rich countries have to redirect their overseas developing aid to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
And finally, for the first time, about 40% of the Earth's surface, the oceans with its seamounts and cold-water reefs are now accepted to be part of the biodiversity conservation strategies of the convention.

During the months in the lead up to the CBD, Greenpeace highlighted ancient forest destruction in Patagonia, Europe and the Asia Pacific regions.   Greenpeace ships, Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise, both documented ancient forest destruction in some of the world's last pristine forest regions.

"Greenpeace will continue to investigate, document and highlight the plight of the world's forests and oceans," added Kaiser. "The decisions here are just a starting point for governments to take responsibility for controlling destructive industries and to halt biodiversity loss, while we still have a chance to make a difference."

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2004 Champion Assassin of Life on Earth - the Final Nominees

It has been a busy two weeks here at the Conference, and there have been a number of governments who have come to our attention for their inauspicious behaviour.

What do these delegates say to their loved ones when they get home and get asked what they have been doing for the last two weeks.   We can't imagine they actually say "Well, at the CBD meeting I did my best to block progress on a global network of protected areas".   So what do these delegates say? So, the final nominees are:

Argentina - arguing for the inclusion of text on trade issues in the mountain biodiversity section, as well as insisting on 'flexibility' - code for wriggling out of commitments.
Australia - for their insistence on introducing trade issues into the CBD, undermining the precautionary principle, and questioning agreed targets.
Brazil - for consistently weakening the text on protected areas in regard of a strong commitment to global goals and targets, and pushing for language requiring the CBD to defer to the WTO.

Canada - for insisting that we don't need an Open Ended Working Group on Protected Areas, an essential step for ensuring monitoring and facilitation of the implementation.   Their refusal to agree, even in the face of suggestions to resolve financial questions, is simply astonishing.   What is their problem with a bit of external scrutiny of the program of work?

Malaysia - for providing a draft Ministerial statement with no substance, and failing to provide leadership at the meeting despite their 'green' rhetoric and their role as hosts.   Also for their consistent undermining of indigenous peoples rights, and most importantly, their refusal to put Protected Areas on the official Ministerial agenda, even though it was the one of the priority theme for the Conference of parties of the Convention.

The United States - for turning up despite their refusal to ratify the Convention, then working behind the scenes to influence the outcomes.
*The final announcement of the winner and the presentation of the trophy will occur at the end of the meeting today.
For more information contact:
Gina Sanchez, Media Coordinator for Greenpeace, currently in
Malaysia, +60126584617
Arthur Jones Dionio, Regional Media campaigner, currently in
Malaysia, +601 2293 6958
Visit: www.greenpeace.org/protectlifeonearth   End.
-RK-

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