Nagoya Biodiversity Summit: What can we really expect from the Tenth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity?

20 October 2010

According to the United Nations, the extinction rate of plants and animals is already up to a thousand times higher than any previous time in history. The causes include over-exploitation of resources, pollution, habitat modification and climate change. The World Conservation Union’s Red List shows that one-third of all assessed species are under threat of extinction.

This is why 193 nations are meeting from October 18-29 in Nagoya, Japan, to try to devise a new strategy to stop the loss of animal and plant species due to humans, and the damages humans cause to biodiversity.
This Tenth Conference of Parties (COP-10) comes at a time when not one country in the world has met the goals agreed by signing the Convention on Biodiversity that was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. At the opening of COP-10, the Japanese Minister of the Environment described how the meeting’s logo “illustrates the diversity of life on Earth” and “our determination to pass on to the next generation the wealth of biodiversity on our planet.”

In this context and during this, the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity, COP-10 is charged with:
- setting a new strategic plan for the period 2011-2020 in the battle against the destruction of biodiversity,
- reaching agreement on an international protocol governing conditions under which the industrial North can access the energy resources of the South—a tough nut for the negotiations to crack,
- planning the development of aid for natural resource protection for poorer countries.

After the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December 2009, the world is hoping that this Conference will mark a turning point in biodiversity protection and not be just another futile gesture. Science is showing more and more ways in which we are dependent on services provided by biodiversity. The drastic reduction of species puts Earth’s balance at risk just as much as climate change does. The scientific community is calling for the creation of a group of experts dedicated to studying and protecting biodiversity, like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to improve how biodiversity issues are factored into policy decisions. Will this cry be heard?