Will Ministers act to protect life on earth?

Feature story - February 18, 2004
The Ministers of Environment from all over the world gathered today in Kuala Lumpur during the Summit for Life on Earth-the UN meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As environment negotiations reach a critical stage, it is up to the elected representatives of governments to ensure that this meeting does not become another failure.

"The global crisis currently facing the planet's forests and oceans needs to be addressed immediately," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace. "The agreements made by the heads of state in Johannesburg at the Earth Summit 2 years ago are wavering. The Ministers must agree on strong action to stop the loss of plants and animals around the globe. The future of animals such as the Great Apes hang in the balance."

The Summit for Life on Earth must address three major issues if it is to be considered successful in preventing the destruction of biodiversity in the world today. Delegates to the CBD must make a strong commitment to immediately implement a world-wide network of protected areas that respects the rights of indigenous and local communities. The representatives of the rich, industrialised nations must provide the economic resources to support developing nations in implementing these areas. And, all the parties must establish ongoing monitoring and reporting of the implementation of these decisions.

According to Greenpeace estimates, there is currently a US$25 billion shortfall to effectively implement a global system of protected areas. "Only by providing the money needed, can we ensure that our current wealth of biodiversity will remain for generations to come. Governments today must start with emergency funding to address the urgency of the current situation, " added Kaiser.

Greenpeace is highlighting the plight of the world's last remaining ancient forests and the depletion of the oceans during the Summit for life on earth-the UN meeting of the Convention for Biological Diversity. Greenpeace is urging governments to protect life in all its diversity, indigenous people's rights and cultural variety by providing money for protection of life on land and sea. World governments must also ban large scale industrial activity in all sensitive areas and establish a network of land and marine protected areas with effective law enforcement and management.

As part of its campaign, Greenpeace will present the 2004 Global Assassin of Life on Earth award to the government that has done the most to bring an end to biodiversity on our planet. The inauspicious trophy features a lifelike model of planet earth with a large axe buried in it, symbolizing the impact the award winner is making to the future of life on earth.

On the day of the arrival of the Minister for the Environment, the nomination for this award was given to all the governments of industrial nations who have exploited the world's forests and oceans for centuries and who mistakenly believe that we can protect biodiversity free of charge. "If the Ministers really believe this, perhaps they would also be willing to forego their salaries for a year?" said Kaiser. Other notorious nominees have included Chile, Australia and the US. (1)

Note to Editors:

(1) The first nomination went to Chile for the convoluted and regressive comments that the delegate made in Working Group 1 stating that the protected areas programme of work was not yet "mature", and should return to SBSTTA. The Second went to Australia for continuing their trade-inspired war against the precautionary principle, and threatening to derail the whole meeting to get their way. The third nomination went to USA for best performance by a non-party to sabotage multilateral environmental agreements.