- In a meeting of minds in Nairobi, Kenya, representatives
of 177 governments are meeting to discuss the world's dwindling biodiversity
and man's impact on it. Pictured here are endangered whooping cranes in
a captive breeding program at the Patuxent Environmental Science Center
in Laurel, Maryland. The numbers alone are frightening. According to the
United Nations Environment Programme, species extinction since the year
1600 has occurred at a pace 50 to 100 times the natural rate. That pace
is expected to accelerate between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural pace,
the report found.
- Today, more than 31,000 plant and animal species are
threatened with destruction.
- With a global alarm ringing in their heads, the 177 member
governments represented at the Convention on Biological Diversity are gathered
in Nairobi, Kenya, with a basic but herculean task: to heal the relationship
between humanity and Earth's dwindling biodiversity.
- "The extraordinary rise in both human populations
and consumption levels leaves us no choice but to take innovative and ambitious
actions to reverse the widespread destruction of species and ecosystems,"
said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the www.unep.org U.N. Environment
Programme, founder of the convention.
- Launched at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992,
the conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
last convened in 1998.
- "We must convince and empower people to adopt the
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as their guiding principle,"
Toepfer said. "Whether it is making tourism environmentally sustainable,
developing new strategies for reviving the world's highly stressed drylands
or creating a legal regime on access to genetic resources that protects
the interests of both local communities and commercial firms, we need to
resolve the tough issues without delay," Toepfer said.
- This year's meeting will examine the progress made by
countries in addressing threats to biological diversity. The ultimate aim
is to come up with solutions that can be implemented across the board "
at international, national and regional levels.
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