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Deforestation dominates at U.N. biodiversity meeting in Japan

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Issue date: 
October 27, 2010
Publisher Name: 
People Daily CN
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Delegates from 69 countries met Tuesday in Nagoya, central Japan, on the sidelines of the ongoing U.N. biodiversity talks to discuss ways to help developing nations tackle issues of deforestation in a bid to counter greenhouse gas emissions.

The one-day meeting, involving ministers from Japan, the United States, Brazil and Indonesia, amounts others sought to address the reevaluation of targets for 2020 concerned with the protection of endangered plant and animal species, the sharing of genetic resources and funding to combat deforestation.

According to official data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, global deforestation fell from 16 million hectares ( 40 million acres) per year in the 1990s to 13 million hectares per year in the past decade, with the majority of the losses occurring in tropical countries.

Somewhere in the region of 12 percent of the world's forests are designated primarily to conserve biological diversity, the FAO stated in report earlier in September.

"Our forests need immediate action," Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira was quoted by local media as telling the meeting.

"The REDD-plus partnership (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) could become a watershed for humanity. For the first time, the world's forests may have a fighting chance to survive," Samuel Tei Abal, Papua New Guinea's foreign, trade and immigration minister, was quoted as saying at the beginning of the meeting.

The meeting was primarily aimed at building a framework of understanding between the nations involved ahead of U.N. talks to be held in Cancun, Mexico in late November to negotiate the deal to succeed the soon to expire Kyoto Protocol.

"We are confident that sufficient political momentum has been generated at this ministerial meeting to catalyze a positive result on Cancun," said Abal, who co-chairs the meeting.

Poorer nations stand to benefit from funding earmarked specifically for developing pilot projects aimed at preserving forests and further more a genetic-benefits sharing pact will likely generate billions of dollars for nations who economically cannot prioritize environmental issues.

The partnership seeks to encourage forest conservation, sustainable forest management and the improvement of carbon stocks in forests.

However, local media reported that as discussions on the best way to allocate funding to aid developing nations with their plight got underway, wealthy nations, mostly in the European Union, quibbled about funding and were accused of failing to share the benefits that might come from exploiting the genetic resources of such areas -- benefits such as western pharmaceutical firms developing new medicine from plant species in tropical areas.

Some developing nations and conservation groups have, according to sources close to the matter, voiced concern about an imbalance of power as richer nations hold the purse strings, but countries like Brazil are home to most of the world's natural capital and designed the efforts to protect them in the first place.

The fact that the U.S. has not signed the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity was also highlighted by some developing nations as being somewhat hypocritical, local sources said.

Japan itself pledged Tuesday to give about 60 million U.S. dollars to help finance developing countries in their conservation efforts and local media reports said the fund, to be announced during the wider 193-nation meeting of the U.N.'s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya later this week, would be offered to the CBD secretariat between now and 2014.

According to the Asahi and Sankei newspapers the funds are aimed specifically at helping developing countries draft national strategies for biodiversity conservation, and pay for expert training and cooperation in scientific data-gathering.

The 12-day U.N. conference aims to ultimately secure consensus among its attendees on how to limit if not halt the rapid depletion of the world's plant and animal species, as well as their natural habitats. Conservationists and biologists are agreed that the world is in a state of "extinction crises."


Extpub | by Dr. Radut