UN biodiversity chief calls for political urgency on environment

By Ed King

The world is sleepwalking into an environmental disaster, with little apparent will to take action to avert it, according to the head of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Speaking on the second day of the CBD conference in Hyderabad, Braulio Dias told RTCC time is running out for governments to take collective action and implement agreed plans to protect the world’s oceans, forests and grasslands.

Twenty targets to be achieved by 2020 were agreed in Nagoya, Japan two years ago, but Dias says there is already a danger these will be missed.

“We have a problem here, because unfortunately most of society does not appreciate the urgency,” he said. “So many people agree we need to conserve biodiversity but they think this is a problem far from their daily lives.

“We have to convey much more that their daily livelihoods in terms if access to water, food and clean air – and a number of other things that we take for granted, are being challenged by the loss of biodiversity. There is an issue of better providing this message to the whole population and different sectors of governments that there is real urgency.”

The biodiversity talks share many characteristics with the climate negotiations, although it is a far less politically abrasive arena than the latter.

And Dias, who worked at the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment before joining the CBD at the start of this year, hopes that this conference could contribute towards a favourable outcome at the COP18 climate summit later this year.

“There are commonalities and we should explore the synergies. We should not try and promote thees agendas separately as if they were in silos – no – there are a lot of synergies we need to better explore. We need to identify better the win-win solutions and really work hard on that,” he said.

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