Biodiversity Of Planet In Peril, Says United Nations

The world’s countries are bankrupting their natural economies and must take bold action to reverse biodiversity losses caused by pollution, deforestation and climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a UN summit on biodiversity.

Ban and other leaders want world leaders to agree on a formal plan on biodiversity – the preservation of animal and plant species – at a meeting in Japan in October.

At a recent mini-summit on the issue, Ban said the world would fail to reach a goal it set in 2002 of making a “significant reduction” in biodiversity losses by 2010.

“Last year’s financial crisis was a wake-up call to governments on the perils of failing to oversee and regulate complex relationships that affect us all. The biodiversity crisis is no different,” Ban said.

“We are bankrupting our natural economy. We need to fashion a rescue package before it is too late.”

The United Nations says the world is facing the worst ecological losses since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago. A quickening pace of extinctions could disrupt food and water supplies for a rising human population, which is on track to reach about nine billion by 2050.

Half of the earth’s wetlands, 40 per cent of its forests, and 30 per cent of mangroves have been lost in the past 100 years. A UN study this year said the world risked “tipping points” of no return such as a drying out of the Amazon rainforest, a buildup of fertilizers creating dead zones in the oceans, or ocean acidification linked to climate change.

It is possible to reverse the degradation of ecosystems over the next 50 years if governments can agree on major changes, the world body says. Some nations, such as those in the European Union, want to set a 2020 deadline “to halt the loss of biodiversity,” a target many experts say is out of reach. Poor countries say such a goal would require a hundredfold increase in funds for safeguarding biodiversity, currently about $3 billion a year.

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