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Comments on COP-8 in Curitiba
by Frank Segieth

PLANETA WIKI

Curitiba, Brazil -- The eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held March 21-30, 2006. The meeting is abbreviated as COP-8.

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The CBD was signed by 150 government leaders at the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The parties committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth.

TARGET 2010

In order to achieve this overall objective 11 concrete goals have been defined of which the most important is to have effectively conserved at least 10% of each of the world's ecological regions until 2010. Brazil's ecological regions or biomes include the Amazon, Cerrado, Caatinga, Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica), Pantanal and Pampa.

DISAPPEARING WORLD

Brazil and the rest of the world are far away from achieving this objective. Despite the Amazon, Brazil's largest biome with about 11,7 % of its total area effectively protected, in the other biomes Caatinga, Cerrado, Mata Atlântica and Pantanal only 2 – 2.5 % of their total area is actually effectively protected. The situation in the rest of the world is similar.

According to a report presented by the United Nations during the opening of the COP-8 about 60% of the total 825 ecoregions in the world have less than 10% of legally protected areas. In 140 ecoregions (17%) less than 1% of their total area is legally protected. With regard to marine and coastal ecosystems the situation is even worse, only 0.6 – 1.4 % of their total area is legally protected until today.

LANGUAGE

Despite the fact that the convention was announced to be held in six official languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese and Arab), the translations mostly happened at the end and only about the final conclusions. The discussions within the working groups were exclusively in English. Consequently representatives of many countries and particularly indigenous and local communities faced significant difficulties to bring in their interests to the discussion.

Despite the language issue, the communication - level in general is problematic and was at least recognized at COP-8. Just to have an idea, the topics, wording and terminology of those conferences is so complicated that the state of Paraná had to organize a pre-meeting for all the national journalist prior to COP-8 in order to enable them to understand and follow at least some part of the discussions.

In my view, this is one of the reasons that the media coverage of COP-8 was poor. I believe that the aim of protection biodiversity is only achievable when the whole society is well informed and actively involved in these issues. Therefore it is indispensable that the language of the biodiversity conservation meetings is understandable for everyone, not only for scientists and conservationists.

RESULTS

No results have been achieved with regard to the key issues of COP-8 such as the creation of a global network of protected areas, bio-piracy or benefit sharing gained through the exploitation of biodiversity resources to the poor countries and the protection of traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities.

In addition the United States, the only UN member that did not ratify the CDB, declared their intention to reduce their financial contribution to the World Fund for Natural Environment by 50%.

According to Greenpeace COP-8 was a failure. The only indirect positive result of the COP-8 for Brazil's biodiversity was the creation of two national parks of araucaria forest, an ecosystem that has been reduced to less than 1% of its original size.

The COP-8 in Curitiba showed once more the complexity and diversity of the different interests with regard to environmental issues, which probably is as high as the biological diversity itself. Facing these disappointing results, 16 years after the Earth Summit, it is hard to believe in the effectiveness of an institution such as the Conference of the Parties. Hopefully the COP-9 in Germany will be better.


AUTHOR

Frank Segieth founded Brazil Adventure International.


REFERENCE

b COP8 Photoset - Frank Segieth

KUDOS

Thanks to SEJ for featuring this article in their blog: Slow Progress, Translation Problems Plague Biodiversity Session in Brazil - SEJ


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