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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
will be better.