Convention on Biological Diversity outcomes a drop in the ocean

Feature Story - 3 November, 2010
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) closed to mixed emotions from the Greenpeace camp. The CBD summit had three objectives – to conserve biological diversity, to ensure sustainability in all parts of the process, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of the DNA of all living things.

School of snapper on Moorea coral reef

Delegates did manage to deliver on a legally binding Access and Benefits Sharing (ABS) Protocol.What this means is that countries with rich genetic resources - often developing countries or indigenous communities - will be entitled to profits from these products.

It's shocking that at the moment developed countries and businesses are free to take these materials, such as wild plants, sometimes without local communities knowledge or consent, only to exploit them commercially for huge profits. The small print remains unclear, with costs to developed countries and pharmaceutical companies to be decided.

However, after two weeks of talks, delegates representing the 193 Parties to the CBD committed to a new 10-year plan for biodiversity protection. Twenty key goals were established, including a commitment to protect only 17 % of land and 10 % of oceans (PDF 168kB)

These figures fall well behind Greenpeace's final targets, which are urgently needed to protect all life on earth. We are campaigning for a global network of marine reserves, eventually covering 40 % of the world's oceans, alongside sustainable fishing practices to restore and replenish global marine life. We are also campaigning for zero deforestation so it's disappointing to see the demands were not fulfilled on these final targets, leaving our oceans and forests very much under threat.

During the CBD, Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke released his 2010 -2030 Biodiversity plan.  It states a goal of increasing biodiversity conservation areas across land and sea by 600,000 square kilometres in the next five years. Given our territorial waters alone comprise 10 million square kilometres this commitment is a mere drop in the ocean.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature predicts nearly a quarter of mammals, one-third of amphibians and more than a fifth of plant species now face extinction. It's time to take action on biodiversity preservation, as the cost of inaction is unimaginable.

About the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - is the body charged by the UN with conserving the world's animals and plants. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.

MORE INFORMATION: Read the Emergency Oceans Rescue Plan Executive Summary and the Full Report

KEEP UPDATED: Follow our updates on the website and join us on Twitter and Facebook. We'll be in Japan pushing for areas of the Pacific to be designated as marine reserves.

WATCH THIS SHORT FILM ABOUT KADAVU: Kadavu, an island in the south of the Fijian Islands - may become the site of the first true marine reserve in the Pacific.