The environment in the news tuesday, 20 May 2008



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THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Coverage of the biodiversity meeting in Bonn


  • Bloomberg: Biodiversity Agreement Means Saving Life on Earth, Germany Says

  • Press Association: Conference Bids To Protect World's Wildlife

  • AFP: Food and climate fears combine to put focus on global biodiversity

  • Allafrica: Africa: Quest for Biosafety At Critical Stage

  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany): Fremde Federn: Achim Steiner, Sigmar Gabriel, Ahmed Djoghlaf;

  • Der Spiegel (Germany): Marktplatz der Natur

  • Der Spiegel (Germany): "Artenschutz ist nicht Gucci"

  • Bolpres (Bolivia): Evo Morales invitado al XVI congreso biológico mundial

  • La Nouvelle République du Centre Ouest (France): La biodiversité en débat à l'ONU


Other UNEP coverage


  • The Sunday Times (UK): Oceans' zones of death are spreading

  • The Observer Magazine (UK): Ethical Living: THE GREEN GAUGE

  • Emirates News Agency: Zayed International Prize for Environment announced

  • Afrique en Ligne: UNEP/ICRAF launch seven billion tree planting campaign

  • Chicago Tribune: Garden points ways to greener growing

  • Financial Express (India): Unhelpful Conditions Affect Viability Of Green Energy

  • Allafrica: Africa; Will Continent Manage to Feed Its People Amid Rising Costs

  • Hindustan Times (India): Global warming turning oceans into marine graveyards

  • Daily Times (Pakistan): E coli affecting groundwater quality

  • Consumer Eroski (Spain): Una campaña liderada por la ONU logra plantar 2.000 millones de árboles

  • Sunchales Hoy (Argentina): Un árbol por cada habitante del planeta

  • Salta al Dia (Argentina): Lanzarán un Sistema de Información y Monitoreo Ambiental para la Cuenca del Río Bermejo

  • Jornal do Commercio (Brazil): Bayer apresenta programa para estudiantes na área do meio ambiente





Other Environment News


  • Planet Ark: "Herculean Task" To Safeguard Biodiversity-Germany

  • AFP: Climate change raising extinction risk among birds: study

  • Reuters: Climate change hitting bird species, shows study

  • BBC: Climate 'accelerating bird loss'

  • Reuters: G8 climate talks to discuss targets, rift remains

  • AFP: Food shortage, climate key health threats: WHO chief

  • Reuters: Animated map brings global climate crisis to life

  • BBC: Go-ahead for Iceland's whale hunt

  • Planet Ark: Certified Non-Rain Forest Palm Oil Set For Germany

  • New Zealand Herald: Business backs Key on climate

  • The Australian: Farmers 'in denial' on climate change

  • Reuters: New boilers offer an escape from soaring fuel bills

  • Wired Magazine (USA): Counterpoint: Dangers of Focusing Solely on Climate Change

Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


  • ROA

  • ROAP

  • RONA

  • ROLAC

  • ROWA

Other UN News


  • Environment News from the UN Daily News of 18 March 2008

  • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 18 March 2008


UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

Coverage of the biodiversity meeting in Bonn

Bloomberg: Biodiversity Agreement Means Saving Life on Earth, Germany Says

By Jeremy van Loon

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Protecting plants, animals and natural resources is urgently needed to accommodate human life on Earth as populations grow and the climate changes, said German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

Biodiversity may help ease a worldwide food crisis, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Soaring prices for rice, milk and other foodstuffs because of higher demand from Asia and the increased use of biofuels have resulted in demonstrations around the world.

Governments are meeting over the next two weeks in Bonn to pave the way for an agreement on saving rainforests and fisheries, and to establish rules on sharing profits from resources such as tropical plants used for medicines. Extinction rates are now almost 10,000 times faster than the natural pace of species loss, Gabriel said.

``Life on earth is at a crucial point,'' Gabriel told delegates at a UN conference on biodiversity in Bonn today. ``By 2050 we will be 9 billion people on this planet, and therefore, we will need every liter of fresh water and every square meter of soil.''

About three-quarters of the genetic diversity of crops have been lost over the last century, and hundreds of the 7,000 animal breeds registered with the agency are threatened with extinction, the Rome-based FAO said.

``Our planet abounds with biological richness and this great diversity is key to face the worst food crisis in modern history,'' FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Mueller said in an e-mailed statement.

Corn-Based Fuel

Rising food prices have prompted some politicians, including the U.K.'s Gordon Brown, to call for more analysis into the using corn and soybeans to power vehicles.

``It is essential that we do not lose the connections between biodiversity and issues such as the recent food price increases,'' said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program, in a video statement at today's conference. ``These issues are intricately connected.''

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said on April 29 that the food crisis is an ``unprecedented challenge'' which may hurt economic growth and threaten political security. Rice, the staple for half of the world, has more than doubled in the past year.

About 6,000 participants, including non-governmental organizations and government negotiators, are attending the conference in the former West German capital.

The goal of the meeting is not to establish binding commitments that nations will have to follow, said Germany's Gabriel. The minister likened the summit to the talks on climate change in Bali last year, which established a set of points to discuss and negotiate ahead of a final meeting in 2009 to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The new treaty would limit greenhouse-gas emissions, which are responsible for global warming.

The biggest challenge for the delegates at this week's conference will be to find ways to finance saving rainforests and protecting the oceans, said Gabriel. Germany, the U.S. and other wealthy nations have a responsibility to show the world that they are prepared to make changes to the way resources are consumed, he said.

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Press Association: Conference Bids To Protect World's Wildlife
May 19, 2008 Monday 2:48 AM BST
Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent
An international conference on protecting the world's wildlife begins today amid concerns populations of species have declined by almost a third since 1970.

Government representatives are meeting in Bonn, Germany, over the next fortnight for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which will discuss aims to achieve a ``significant reduction'' in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

Despite the pledge, made by Governments in 2002 under the convention, WWF's Living Planet Index published last week showed populations of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals had declined by 27% in 35 years to 2005.

The conservation charity's index, which looks at species ranging from the Amur tiger and the chimpanzee to the polar bear and green turtle, has been adopted as one of the official indicators of whether the international community is halting biodiversity loss.

Ahead of the global conference, WWF warned that it was ``very unlikely'' governments would meet the 2010 target.

The annual meeting of the biodiversity convention has been regarded in the past as something of a talking shop, and this year EU negotiators are keen to see greater moves towards implementing the agreement.

Delegates from the UK and other European countries also want to see the issue of sustainable biofuels discussed, as well as agreement on criteria for protecting areas of the oceans which are beyond national boundaries - although both of these issues could prove politically controversial.

Before the meeting, Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention, said improving the diversity of agricultural crops was needed to address the growing world food crisis.

Spiralling deforestation rates also had to be reversed as much of the world's wildlife was found in its forests, he said.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said the planet's sixth mass extinction was under way, driven for the first time in history by mainly human activity.

``Over the coming decades the pace of loss of species could rise to 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate,'' he warned.

This is nothing less than asset-stripping of the globe's natural and nature-based capital - from forests and coral reefs to river systems and soils.``

Biodiversity Minister Joan Ruddock, who will be attending the high-level segment of the meeting next week, said the UK needed to be an active participant in shaping how the world's wildlife is protected.

She said: ``Supporting wildlife is critical to all our futures. International action is needed to tackle the worldwide decline in wildlife with all countries working together.''

The global conference comes as conservation agency Natural England released a report warning that without new ways of protecting England's wildlife, much of it could vanish forever in the face of climate change and increasing development in the countryside.
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AFP: Food and climate fears combine to put focus on global biodiversity
PARIS, May 17, 2008 (AFP) - In the midst of a global food crisis, experts from around world gather Monday in the German city of Bonn for a marathon conference aimed at ending the destruction of countless plant and animal species.

While the extinction of mammals or sea-life have long caught the public imagination, pressing concerns over food prices and stocks, allied to global awareness of the dangers of climate change, means the Earth's plant life -- as a means of sustenance and of maintaining nature's balance -- is suddenly catapulting its way up the political and environmental agenda.

The ninth meeting of countries who signed up to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, opening on Monday, will be a new beginning, according to German Chancellor and host Angela Merkel.

At the base political level, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that promises made in Brazil 16 years ago have not been kept, despite the Rio deal setting a deadline of 2010 for a significant reduction in the present rate of species extinction.

"We are not on the right path towards slowing the erosion of biodiversity," said Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, France's ecology minister.

One in four mammal species, one in eight among birds, a third of amphibian creatures and 70 percent of all plant life made the most recent endangered list issued by another UN agency, the World Conservation Union (WCU).

Man is directly blamed for the accelerating threat to global biodiversity.

The spread of invasive species -- valued for commercial trade reasons -- plus the effects of tourism and developments in agricultural technology, each share responsibility, along with climate change.

For experts attending the two-week gathering in Bonn, maintaining the myriad diversity of nature represents a life assurance policy covering man's future in the face of global warming.

Over the last 100 years, for example, global agriculture has centred on just three primary crops -- rice, wheat and corn -- to the detriment of all others.

This dependency elevates the risk of a crisis which goes beyond price rises, according to the Convention's Executive Secretary, Ahmed Djoghlaf.

Developing countries, for their part, are demanding a more equal distribution of natural resources.

So the Bonn conference aims to produce a roadmap for the negotiation by 2010 of a whole raft of rules governing access to genetic resources -- and the re-distribution of benefits gained from their use.

The fight against bio-piracy is growing issue, with private companies accused of exploiting the natural resources of developing countries and associated knowledge acquired by their peoples.

Deforestation remains a major topic, with Djoghlaf stating that "each year, more than 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometres) of forest are destroyed, whereas 80 percent of the world's biodiversity is found in tropical rainforests."

The link with climate change is inescapable, as deforestation contributes to the greenhouse effect blamed for global warming.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, wants the Bonn conference to be seen as an ecological "watershed" in the same way as the December 2007 Bali conference -- with a little help from Al Gore and friends -- burst public consciousness on climate change.

Work is already underway on establishing a similar Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity, with the planned body likely to take up its function as early as 2009.

MD

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Allafrica: Africa: Quest for Biosafety At Critical Stage

Business Daily (Nairobi)

OPINION
19 May 2008


Posted to the web 19 May 2008

Achim Steiner

I must pay tribute to the 147 parties that have ratified the Cartagena Protocol to date and would like also to take this opportunity to call on those that have not yet done so to expedite their internal process of accession and subsequent ratification of the protocol.

The issue of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) can be a polarising one with many strongly held views on their role in the economic and development trajectory of the 21st century.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety establishes a framework that at its core is the environmentally sound application and management of the products of modern biotechnology.

The Protocol, in short, is designed to maximise the benefits from modern biotechnology, while at the same time protecting biodiversity and human health from potential risks posed by LMOs.

A central role for UNEP in this regard is the critical area of capacity building that will allow developing countries to establish regulatory frameworks and make informed choices on whether an LMO is a risk or an opportunity for its economy in the widest sense of these words.

UNEP and the Global Environment Facility (the GEF) have developed a global capacity building programme to help countries develop their national biosafety frameworks alongside promoting regional and sub-regional cooperation and facilitating the exchanges of experiences. The programme was launched in June 2001 and has made substantial progress thus far.

As of April 2008, more than 100 countries had already finalised their national biosafety frameworks, having been formally endorsed by their Governments and made ready for implementation.

The total amount for these projects was close to $50 million. Since 2002, UNEP has supported 19 countries to do this with a total of almost $20m of funding.

The challenge now is to assist more countries given that the majority of those who have ratified the Cartagena Protocol are also ready to implement their own national biosafety laws.

As the world moves to address the current food and energy crisis, the issue of biosafety is gaining centre stage. In addition, the prospect of climate change is leading scientists and countries alike to seek adaptive solutions to our energy, food, and natural resource problems.

Biosafety is thus becoming yet more critical and of rising significance. Developing countries in particular will need the best possible advice and adequate capacities and systems in place to meet these challenges.

Steiner is the UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany): Fremde Federn: Achim Steiner, Sigmar Gabriel, Ahmed Djoghlaf;
Vorteile gerecht verteilen
Fremde Federn
18. Mai 2008

Farmer überall in Afrika kämpfen heute einen ungleichen Kampf gegen eine schädliche Fruchtfliege, die aus Asien kommt. Die Fliege, die zum ersten Mal 2004 auf einem Markt in Kenia entdeckt wurde, hat sich seither über den gesamten Kontinent ausgebreitet; sie hat die Mango-Ernten dezimiert und ganze Existenzen zerstört.

Um der Bedrohung durch den aggressiven Eindringling zu begegnen, reisten Fachleute aus Ostafrika jüngst nach Sri Lanka und suchten dort nach einem natürlichen Feind für den Schädling. Die Forscher haben einen identifiziert; sie sind sicher, dass er gefahrlos in Afrikas Ökosystem ausgesetzt werden könnte und die gefährliche Fliege wahrscheinlich bezwingen würde.

Die bahnbrechende Arbeit der Wissenschaftler allerdings stockt im Augenblick, und die Hoffnung von Millionen von Farmern auf eine wirksame, umweltfreundliche Lösung für die Krise ist mehr als ungewiss. Asiatische Länder - viele Entwicklungsländer überhaupt - haben den Export ihrer reichen und wirtschaftlich so bedeutsamen genetischen Ressourcen gestoppt.

Seit Abschluss der Konvention über die Biologische Vielfalt (CBD) im Jahr 1992 gibt es die Aussicht, dass sich ein internationales Regime für den Zugang zu genetischen Ressourcen und die gerechte Verteilung der Vorteile aus der Nutzung dieser Ressourcen (Access and Benefit Sharing, ABS) wird entwickeln lassen. Dieses würde Forschern und Unternehmen den Zugang zu den genetischen Schätzen der Entwicklungsländer gestatten - und diese im Gegenzug an den Gewinnen aus den Produkten und Gütern beteiligen, die daraus entstehen.

Doch die Verhandlungen über dieses internationale Regime haben bislang noch kein Ergebnis gebracht; und da es kein gültiges Abkommen gibt, hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren der Zugang zu den genetischen Ressourcen weiter reduziert, womit auch die Vorteile aus deren Nutzung geschwunden sind.

Damit droht ein enormer wirtschaftlicher, ökologischer und sozialer Verlust - sowohl für die entwickelten als auch für die Entwicklungsländer. Man denke nur an mögliche Durchbrüche bei der Entwicklung neuer Medikamente, Lebensmittel, biologischer Materialien und Prozesse sowie biologischer Gegenmittel für Schädlinge. Oder man denke an die Bewahrung der bedrohten Tierwelt und schnell zerfallender Ökosysteme.

Ein intelligent ausgestaltetes ABS-Regime würde ärmeren Ländern, die den Löwenanteil der genetischen Ressourcen der Erde besitzen, die Chance verschaffen, dass sie für deren Erhalt und Schutz allmählich auch ordentlich bezahlt werden. Ein solches Regime könnte deshalb eine wichtige Rolle beim Erreichen der Millenniumsziele der UN spielen, darunter jenes, die Armut in der Welt bis zum Jahr 2015 zu halbieren.

Heute werden sich Repräsentanten von Regierungen aus mehr als 190 Staaten und 6000 Delegierte in Bonn zur neunten Vertragsstaatenkonferenz der CBD versammeln. Die Regierungen haben sich vorgenommen, bis 2010 ein Regime für den Zugang zu genetischen Ressourcen und die gerechte Vorteilsverteilung auszuhandeln - dasselbe Jahr übrigens, bis zu dem laut dem Beschluss des Weltgipfels über Nachhaltige Entwicklung von 2002 der Verlust von Biodiversität erheblich verlangsamt werden soll.

In Bonn müssen wir trotz berechtigter unterschiedlicher Interessen bei der ABS-Frage Fortschritte machen. Zudem müssen wir uns bei vielen anderen umfassenden Fragen, die ebenfalls mit der Biodiversität zusammenhängen, auf ein schnelles Handeln einigen. Die Welt erlebt gerade die sechste Welle eines Artensterbens; ausgelöst wird sie zu großen Teilen durch eine Menschheit, die es nicht schafft, mit ihren natürlichen Reichtümern vernünftig umzugehen.

1987 wurden etwa 15 Prozent der globalen Fischbestände als kollabiert eingestuft. Der vierte Bericht der UN-Umweltbehörde (Unep) zum Globalen Zustand der Welt konstatierte im vergangenen Jahr, diese Zahl habe sich in etwa verdoppelt. Vor zwanzig Jahren galt etwa ein Fünftel der Fischbestände als überfischt; heute sind es etwa 40 Prozent.

In den sechs Jahrzehnten seit dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges ist mehr Land zu Ackerfläche umgewidmet worden als in den zwei Jahrhunderten zuvor. In jeder Minute verschwinden 20 Hektar Wald; jedes Jahr werden 13 Millionen Hektar Wald zerstört, obgleich tropische Wälder bis zu 80 Prozent der Biodiversität des Planeten bergen. Etwa 35 Prozent der Mangrovenwälder sind in den vergangenen 20 Jahren zerstört worden.

Derart ernüchternde Fakten ließen sich ohne Ende aufzählen. Aber es gibt noch eine andere Wirklichkeit. Die Welt ist auch voller glänzender Beispiele dafür, wie Veränderung und intelligentes Management gelingen können: Naturschutzgebiete bedecken nun mehr als 12 Prozent der Erdoberfläche, wenngleich die Zahl der Meeresreservate noch unzureichend ist. Paraguay, das bis zum Jahr 2004 eine der höchsten Entwaldungsquoten der Welt aufwies, hat im Osten des Landes die Quote um 85 Prozent gesenkt. Auf Fidschi haben geänderte Vorschriften und die bessere Verwaltung von Meeresgebieten dafür gesorgt, dass die Zahl von Arten wie Mangrovenhummern um 250 Prozent pro Jahr angestiegen ist. Im westlichen Asien gibt es bemerkenswerte Naturschutzmaßnahmen, darunter die Sanierung des mesopotamischen Marschlandes im Irak und der Erhalt einheimischer Weizensorten in Jordanien und Syrien.

Wahr ist allerdings auch, dass wir dem Tempo und dem Umfang der Herausforderung bisher nicht genug entgegengesetzt haben, vor allem was die Übersetzung globaler Vereinbarungen in nationale Gesetze betrifft. In den vergangenen zwei Jahren hat sich die Weltgemeinschaft vornehmlich - und zu Recht - mit dem Klimawandel beschäftigt. Nun müssen wir uns gleichermaßen intensiv damit beschäftigen, wie wir den Verlust an Biodiversität umkehren. Die Farmer Afrikas verlassen sich auf uns - ebenso wie der Rest der 6,7 Milliarden Menschen auf dem Globus. Ihr Wohlstand, ja ihr Überleben hängt in letzter Konsequenz vom Reichtum der Natur ab.

Achim Steiner ist Exekutivdirektor des UNUmweltprogramms Unep; Ahmed Djoghlaf ist Sekretär der Konvention über die Biologische Vielfalt, CBD; Sigmar Gabriel ist deutscher Umweltminister.
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Der Spiegel (Germany): Marktplatz der Natur
19. Mai 2008
Bethge, Philip; Bredow, Rafaela von; Schwägerl, Christian

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