Conserving biodiversity : International efforts | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 15, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 15, 2008

Conserving biodiversity : International efforts

Biodiversity is disappearing from the natural ecosystems of forests, savannahs, pastures and rangelands, deserts, tundras, rivers, lakes and seas .This is largely the result of human activity and represents a serious threat to human development. To protect these precious resources for human kind various environmental conservation organisations are working world-wide.
World Conservation Union (IUCN) is the world's largest and most important conservation network that brings together 83 States, 110 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists. Experts from 181 countries work for conservation of natural resources under IUCN's various programmes in a unique worldwide partnership. The World Commission on Protected Areas, Species Survival Commission and Commission on Ecosystem Management of IUCN directly address biodiversity crisis.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) collaborates with a wide range of partners throughout the UN system and beyond to provide information on the state of the planet's natural resources and their contribution to sustainable development. The UNEP has been at the forefront of assessing and monitoring global biodiversity issue. The Convention on Biological Diversity was negotiated under the auspices of the UNEP.
World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) of the United Nations Environment Programme or UNEP-WCMC is an executive agency of the United Nations Environment Programme, based in Cambridge in the United Kingdom. UNEP-WCMC has been part of UNEP since 2000, and has responsibility for biodiversity assessment and support to policy development and implementation. WCMC monitors the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation efforts especially made by UNEP, IUCN and WWF throughout the world.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organisation for the conservation, research and restoration of the natural environment. Formerly named the World Wildlife Fund. WWF is one of the world's largest and most experienced independent conservation organisations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. It is a charity, with approximately 90 percent of its funding coming from voluntary donations by private individuals and businesses. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. One of three goals of WWF is conserving the world's biological diversity.
Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established by donor governments in 1991 to provide conservation finance proposed at the Earth Summit. It helps beneficiary nations to fund projects and programmes that aim to protect the global environment. GEF grants support projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquartered in Paris, France, was founded in 1945, to act as U.N.'s lead agency on matters relating to education, the sciences, culture, and communications. The Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is one of the major scientific programmes of the UNESCO, dedicated to conservation of biodiversity through designation of biosphere reserves throughout the world.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives. Its mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. The WRI works for sustainable use of biodiversity through ecosystem approach. Its objective is to maintain as much pristine condition of natural ecosystems as possible by its 'People & Ecosystems' working area so that ecosystems can provide natural goods and services .The Institute was launched on June 3, 1982.
Major events
World Conservation Strategy (WCS)
was formulated by IUCN in cooperation with UNEP, WWF, FAO and UNESCO. It explains the contribution of living resource conservation to human survival and to sustainable development and identifies the priority conservation issues along with the main requirements for dealing with them and proposes ways for effectively achieving the Strategy aim. The WCS was launched in 1980 in 30 countries, and now many countries are adopting conservation strategies formulated within the guidelines suggested.
Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA) is an independent, critical, peer reviewed scientific analysis of the current issues, theories and views regarding the main aspects of biodiversity. According to the Global Biodiversity Assessment, it is estimated that the total number of species on Earth is between 13 and 14 million, of which only 1.75 million have been described. Enormous diversity exists between these species, ranging from common annual herbs to bacteria of deep ocean trenches. Their arrangement into classifications reflect their phyletic relationships, and the complex patterns of variation and distribution. Groups of plants, birds, mammals, fishes, reptiles and amphibians the species with which we are most familiar and utilize for economic purpose is only 3 percent of the estimated total. The majority of species belong to groups such as insects, arachnids, fungi, nematodes and microorganisms.
Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD) was negotiated under the auspices of the UNEP. It entered into force on 29 December 1993. As of October 1998, more than 170 countries had become parties. The three goals of the CBD are to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources. The CBD Secretariat is located in Montréal, Canada. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), which advises the Conference of the Parties (COP), meets several months prior to each COP.
Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) was launched in 1970 and was formally endorsed by U.N. Member States at the U.N. Conference on the Environment in 1972. Since its early days, MAB has initiated programmes and activities focusing on the diversity and the resources provided by nature, humans' impacts on biodiversity, as well as how biodiversity affects human activities. The original objective of MAB was to establish protected areas representing the main ecosystems of the planet. A 'biosphere reserve' under MAB is a unique kind of protected area. It differs from a national park, wilderness area, national forest or wildlife refuge in having three equal aims: conservation of genetic resources, species, and ecosystems; scientific research and monitoring; and promoting sustainable development in communities of the surrounding region.
Recent progresses
Global Biodiversity Challenge:
In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level. This target was subsequently endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations General Assembly and was incorporated as a new target under the Millennium Development Goals. In February 2004 the Parties of Convention on Biological Diversity at the seventh Conference identified a role for UNEP-WCMC in eight decisions, including work on assessing progress in achieving the internationally-agreed target of achieving a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss globally by 2010, on monitoring implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, and of the World Database on Protected Areas.
Global Biodiversity Outlook : The second edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-2) was published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2006.GBO-2 assesses the current status and trends of biodiversity and the key drivers of biodiversity loss. It provides a powerful case for the importance of biodiversity to human well-being. The report contains a succinct overview of the status of the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, progress towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target and its contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. This situation contradicts the international "2010 Biodiversity Target", which aims at significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Science and governance for conserving and sustainably and equitably using biodiversity are key elements to decrease the rate of its loss.
Md. Mahfujur Rahman studies Environmental Sciences at Jahangirnagar University.

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