Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα biodiversidad. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα biodiversidad. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 05, 2014

One third of world soils degraded (FAO)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that a third of all soils are degraded, due to erosion, compaction, soil sealing, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidification, pollution and other processes caused by unsustainable land management practices.

Jose Graziano da Silva, the director-general of FAO, made the remarks on Thursday, eve of the first World Soil Day to be celebrated on Dec. 5. Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person will in 2050 be only one-fourth of the level in 1960, he warned.

It can take up to 1,000 years to form one centimeter of soil, and with 33 percent of all global soil resources degraded and human pressures increasing, critical limits are being reached that make stewardship an urgent matter, Graziano da Silva said.

Calling soils a "nearly forgotten resource," he urged more investment in sustainable soil management, saying that would be cheaper than restoration and "is needed for the achievement of food security and nutrition, climate change adaptation and mitigation and overall sustainable development."

According to FAO, tiny organisms such as bacteria and fungi underground act as the primary agents driving nutrient cycling and help plants by improving nutrient intake, in turn supporting above-ground biodiversity as well.

Better management can assure that those usually unnoticed organisms boost soil's ability to absorb carbon and mitigate desertification, so that even more carbon can be sequestered -- helping offset agriculture's own emissions of greenhouse gases, FAO said.

Xinhua - english.cntv.cn
5/12/14

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 03, 2014

Una operación eliminará ratas para conservar la biodiversidad de una isla

  Photo rohrmannspace.net
La mayor operación de eliminación de ratas con veneno en la historia empezará en febrero para conservar la biodiversidad de una de las Islas Georgias, en el Atlántico Sur que pertenecen al Reino Unido.

Hace dos siglos, antes de la llegada de los roedores con los barcos, en la isla se reproducían millones de aves marinas, en particular, los albatroses y los pingüinos rey.

La creciente población de las ratas redujo el número de los pájaros en más del 90%.

La operación se organiza bajo el amparo de la fundación ecologista escocesa South Georgia Heritage Trust.

Está previsto que tres helicópteros arrojen a la isla 95 toneladas de veneno.

El jefe del proyecto, Tony Martin, informó al periódico The Guardian, que el raticida, que se diseminará por una superficie de 364 kilómetros cuadrados, es casi inofensivo para las aves.

Después los ecólogos supervisarán la isla para estimar si quedan ratas supervivientes.

En 2011 y 2013 se llevaron a cabo las fases previas de la operación, declaradas exitosas, pero el número de roedores eliminados no se difundió.

 http://sp.ria.ru/international/20141202/163414168.html
2/12/14
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Noticias relacionadas:


  • Over 100 million seabirds inhabit South Georgia, a 3,500 km2 island in the South Atlantic Ocean....

 For over 200 years the island’s birds have suffered predation by introduced Norway rats and mice, and over the last 100 years, habitat degradation from introduced reindeer. A step-wise rat eradication programme using bait pellets, the largest of its kind to be attempted worldwide, is being carried out by the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Phase One (in March 2011) successfully cleared rats from one part (10%) of the island; Phase Two (2013–2015) aims to rid the entire island of rodents. Reindeer are to be removed in 2013 and 2014 by a South Georgia Government initiative...................http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/494

Κυριακή, Νοεμβρίου 02, 2014

Warming Oceans Impact Future of Shrimp

Shrimp is America’s most popular seafood, but now it seems like the bad news for shrimp lovers is coming from every direction. Last winter, higher water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine forced the cancellation of Maine’s Northern shrimp season, and now scientists are saying it could happen again. And a new report from Oceana, which did DNA testing on 143 shrimp products, found that as much as 30 percent of shrimp sold in grocery stores and markets is being misrepresented, with species substitution rampant...................ecowatch.com

Κυριακή, Οκτωβρίου 19, 2014

More Than Half of World’s Wildlife Population Lost: World Wide Fund for Nature

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released a statement Saturday following the 12th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlighting that the world has lost more than half of the planet's wildlife population.

"At a time when the world has seen the loss of more than half of the planet's wildlife populations, countries are neither moving fast enough nor doing enough to prevent further decline," the statement reads.
Species populations worldwide have declined 52 percent since 1970, with a 76 percent decline in freshwater species and a 39 and 40 percent decline in marine and terrestrial species decline respectively, according to finding revealed at the convention that was concluded on Friday in South Korea.

The findings compiled in the WWF Living Planet 2014 report also states that global freshwater demand is projected to exceed current supply by more than 40 percent by 2030.

While urging governments to "supercharge" their efforts in conserving the environment, the WWF statement noted that forest ecosystems alone contribute $720 billion to the global economy.

"The COP [convention] urges Parties to take comprehensive and urgent measures necessary to ensure the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and corresponding national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs)," the statement says, adding that it urges the relevant parties to do so by October 2015.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, also known as the Aichi targets, and a main theme at the convention, is a ten-year framework for action by all countries and stakeholders to save biodiversity and enhance its benefits for people, as explained on the Convention on Biological Diversity website.

Among the strategies are getting the governments and society more involved, promoting sustainable use, safeguarding ecosystems and promoting the benefits of conserving biodiversity.

The WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund, was founded in 1961 in Switzerland and has been active in issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries.
(RIA Novosti)
18/10/14
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Πέμπτη, Οκτωβρίου 16, 2014

Australia targets wildlife extinction

Australia's Environment Minister Greg Hunt has pledged to end the extinction of native mammal species by 2020, with a focus on culprits such as feral cats.

Hunt said Australia had the worst rate of mammal loss in the world and the nation's "greatest failure" in environmental policy was protecting threatened species.

"Our flora and fauna are part of what makes us Australian," he said in a speech late Wednesday.


"I don't want the extinction of species such as the numbat, the quokka, the bilby, on our collective consciences," he said, referring to mammals that are little-known outside Australia compared to other marsupials like the kangaroo.

Hunt said the government had been putting in place a "different approach" to halting the extinction of native wildlife, including the appointment of a Threatened Species Commissioner to spearhead the efforts.

Australia has some 749 species of plants, mammals, birds, frogs, fish, reptiles and other animals listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, with the numbers rising each year, Hunt said.

Over the past two decades, 53 land-based species moved to a higher threat category, but only 15 moved lower.

A study released earlier this year showed Australia's mammal extinction rate was the highest in the world, with more than 10 percent of species wiped out since Europeans settled the country two centuries ago.

  • Feral cats were identified as the main culprit, although feral foxes were also responsible. Other factors contributing to the extinctions include climate change, fire and habitat destruction.

Australian states and territories have separate threatened species lists and are "struggling with similar problems," Hunt said, adding that legislation is failing to arrest the declines.

"I have set a goal of ending the loss of mammal species by 2020.

"What's more, I want to see improvements in at least 20 of those species between now and then," he said.

The measures would focus on major threats such as those posed by feral cats, which number between 10 to 20 million across Australia and kill countless native animals every night.

  • Cats were first introduced to Australia by British immigrants in the late 1700s as domestic pets. But they went wild and spread across the continent over the next 100 years.

One measure under consideration is the development of a "new, humane bait" called Curiosity, which Hunt described as a "potential game-changer."

Apart from tackling the feral-cat threat, Hunt said the government was committing $2.9 million to the recovery of the endangered Tasmanian devil.

Sources: AFP - globaltimes.cn
16-17/10/14
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Τετάρτη, Οκτωβρίου 15, 2014

Guangzhou using invasive species against mosquito-borne fever

Southern Chinese authorities' introduction of an invasive fish species to combat a surge in dengue fever has sparked fears that the practice will break the environmental balance.

The water bureau in Guangzhou Municipality, China's third-largest city, has reacted to the mosquito-borne disease by adding mosquitofish to "controllable static waters." While the fish are named for their diet of mosquito larvae, they are also known for harming indigenous species worldwide.


Professors of environmental studies at local universities including the the renowned Sun Yat-Sen University have cautioned against the move.

"The best solution to the dengue problem is to improve the overall environment. Introducing foreign species must be meticulous. The impacts must be controlled," said Li Yanliang, chairman of the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association.

Although the bureau said limiting the number of mosquitofish would ensure that the environment is not affected, it told Xinhua it did not know how many of the fish it had thrown into Guangzhou waters.

Local media reported one district in Guangzhou received more than 54,000 mosquitofish.

Guangzhou has seen a rise in dengue fever cases since September, with over 27,000 cases reported. 

Source:Xinhua - globaltimes.cn
15/10/14
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Παρασκευή, Οκτωβρίου 10, 2014

Ocean Acidification from Climate Change Could Cost $1 Trillion

The United Nations Environment Programme and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released a report this week at a conference in Korea, compiling studies on the impact of increased ocean acidification, caused by absorbing carbon dioxide, on the marine and coastal ecosystems. 

The report updated a 2009 report, since the amount of research into ocean acidification has grown, along with concerns about the effect it is having on marine organisms and the economies dependent on them.


“The oceans are facing major threats due to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said CBD’s executive secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souzo Dias in the report’s introduction. “In addition to driving global climate change, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide affect ocean chemistry, impacting marine ecosystems and compromises the health of the oceans and their ability to provide important services to the global community. The impacts of ocean acidification are beginning to be felt in some areas, but future projections indicate even more broad-reaching deleterious impacts if action is not taken.”

The report finds that ocean acidification has increased about 26 percent in the past 200 years, absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon released by human activity. “Ocean acidification is a direct result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, cement production and other human activities,” it says.

It points out that the absorption of carbon by the ocean has significant benefits: by absorbing more than a quarter of human-produced carbon emissions, it has substantially slowed climate change. But that’s offset by the negative impact on seawater chemistry and its effect on marine life, as well as the economies and communities dependent on it.

“It is now nearly inevitable that within 50 to 100 years, continued anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will further increase ocean acidity to levels that will have widespread impacts, mostly deleterious, on marine organisms and ecosystems, and the goods and services they provide.,” says the report. “Marine calcifying organisms seem particularly at risk, since additional energy will be required to form shells and skeletons, and in many ocean areas, unprotected shells and skeletons will dissolve.”

It points out that the cost to industries linked to just coral reefs could lose as much as $1 trillion annually by the end of the century if no action is taken.

“When ecosystems stop delivering the way they should, they essentially deliver less services and less benefits,” said Salvatore Arico of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “In the case of coral reefs, those systems are essential for people’s livelihoods in many regions of the world and they will be significantly affected.”

But the report also finds that international awareness of these consequences is growing, along with the amount of research being done.

“Many programs and projects are now investigating the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity and its wider implications, with strong international linkages,” it says. “The United Nations General Assembly has urged States to study ocean acidification, minimize its impacts and tackle its causes. Many United Nations bodies are focusing attention on these issues.”

| October 9, 2014
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Τρίτη, Οκτωβρίου 07, 2014

Benefits of investing in protection of biodiversity outweigh financial costs, says UN-backed report

UN, 7 October 2014 – Implementing measures that promote the sustainable use of biodiversity is a worthwhile investment that will bring multiple economic and environmental benefits to countries, according to a United Nations-backed report released today.
The report, released at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-12) in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, found that there is a gap across all countries and regions between investments needed to meet the 20 global biodiversity goals known as the Aichi targets, and the resources currently allocated to this endeavour.

“Even though political commitment is there, we don’t have a good financial investment plan behind it,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Chair of the High-Level Panel on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which authored the report.
“The report will help parties understand how we can develop these financial investment plans.”

The report also highlights benefits in areas such as health and well-being and food security that would benefit from higher investments in biodiversity initiatives. 

Mr. Rodriguez, who is also the Vice President for conservation policy at Conservation International, stressed that countries should not simply think of higher expenditures, but they need to look for innovative ways in which development investments also take into account biodiversity.

“Political coherence is urgently needed at the country level,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “If we see how governments behave it’s quite contradictory. On the one hand, we see agencies promoting development with a high environmental cost, and on the other hand we see environmental agencies trying to repair the damage that development agencies have created. We need governments who are able to break down this kind of silo effect.”
Recommendations in the report include diversifying sources of finance for biodiversity; investing in protecting marine and land ecosystems with the view that this will tackle not just biodiversity issues but also wider development issues such as climate change; and strengthening dialogue between governments, the private sector and civil society on biodiversity initiatives.

“We hope that this report will allow parties to move forward actions at the national level as well as the Convention level that are consistent with the political commitment of the Aichi targets,” Mr. Rodriquez added.
un.org
7/10/14

Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 29, 2014

Commission welcomes the Council's adoption of the Invasive Alien Species Regulation

European Commission, Statement, Brussels, 29 September 2014:

Today the EU adopted legislation that will tackle the rapidly growing threat to biodiversity from invasive species. The Regulation is a crucial step towards achieving the EU's 2020 biodiversity targets, while also delivering on a commitment under the Convention on Biological Diversity to establish rules to address the threats posed by these species.
European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "This new Regulation fills a long-recognised gap in EU biodiversity protection.
It is carefully targeted, focusing on the most serious threats from invasive species. By working together within the EU to tackle a problem estimated to cost EUR 12 billion every year, we are taking a decisive step towards meeting our objective of halting the loss of biodiversity in the EU by 2020."
The Regulation equips Europe with an effective system that will prevent the introduction and spread of species that can cause significant adverse impacts on the environment, the economy, and human health. The system will be based on a list of species of Union concern, to be drawn up with the Member States on the basis of comprehensive risk assessments and robust scientific evidence. The list will focus on the species that cause the most serious damage. When considering species for listing, their socio-economic benefits, and the concerns of established commercial sectors, will be taken fully into account.

Background
Alien species are plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms that have been transported across ecological barriers such as mountain ranges, or oceans as a result of human intervention, and have become established in an area outside their natural range.
About a quarter of these species are brought into Europe intentionally, but most arrive by accident. There are currently more than 12 000 alien species in the European environment. In their new environment, some spread rapidly and become invasive alien species (IAS), causing significant damage to biodiversity, human health or the economy. Roughly 10-15 % of alien species arriving in Europe eventually become invasive.
These species are a major cause of biodiversity loss, and they can also cause significant damage to human health and the economy. Examples include the American bullfrog, allergy-causing ragweed and musk rats that damage infrastructure.
Invasive alien species are estimated to cost EUR 12 billion annually in health care and animal health costs, crop yield losses, fish stock losses, damage to infrastructure, damage to the navigability of rivers, and damage to protected species.
 http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-14-286_en.htm?locale=en 
29/9/14
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Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 22, 2014

First World Conference on Indigenous Peoples set to open at UN headquarters

UN,  21 September 2014 – The week of high-level events that marks the opening of the United Nations General Assembly's annual general debate kicks off this year with the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), which opens Monday.

Convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the Assembly, the two-day World Conference is expected to draw over a thousand indigenous and non-indigenous delegates who will have the opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of their rights, including pursuing the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007.


Indigenous peoples represent remarkable diversity – more than 5,000 distinct groups in some 90 countries, making up more than 5 per cent of the world's population, some 370 million people. These peoples continue to self-identify as distinct peoples with strong links to traditional territories with their own social, economic and political systems as well as unique languages, cultures and beliefs.

The World Conference is expected to result in a concise, action-oriented outcome document on the implementation the rights of indigenous peoples and the promotion of the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, prepared by the President of the General Assembly on the basis of inclusive and open consultations with Member States and indigenous peoples.

Opening remarks at the Conference are expected to be delivered by General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, among others.

The opening plenary will also include an opening ceremony involving indigenous peoples and the adoption of the World Conference outcome document.

The meetings will be co-chaired by indigenous representatives from all regions: Pacific, African and Asian, as well as Western and Eastern European, and Latin American and the Caribbean.

[un.org]
21/9/14
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Τρίτη, Ιουλίου 15, 2014

Turkish activists make the ‘big jump’ to free rivers from dams (Turkey faces losing 80 percent of its biodiversity)

Activists in Turkey have gathered along several rivers across the country to make a swan dive in the global “big jump” event calling for the protection of waterways to protest the scores of hydroelectric plant projects (HES) and dams that threaten dozens of environmentally protected or untouched areas.

One of the venues was the picturesque town of Hasankeyf at the border of the Tigris River, which will be flooded by the gargantuan Ilısu reservoir when completed.

The Nature Association, which sponsored the event in Turkey, stressed the Constitutional Court had halted legislation that exempted companies making huge energy investments from the validation of an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report earlier this month.


  • It also said that Turkey faces losing 80 percent of its biodiversity if the HES projects are to be completed in the near future.

“While in a normal state of law it would be impossible to think not to what’s required by this ruling, in Turkey all the unlawful projects are ongoing,” said Engin Yılmaz, chairman of the association.

  • “Rivers are the source of life. Each river is also the heart of all the life destroyed by dams and HES. We don’t only lose our biodiversity, like in Hasankeyf, we also lose the cultures that have lived in these lands and are our roots,” he said.

Other similar demonstrations have been held at the fiery Fırtına River in the Black Sea province of Rize, at the Süvari Çayı River in Ankara and nearby the Alakır River in the southern province of Antalya. 

[hurriyetdailynews.com]
14/7/14

Δευτέρα, Ιουνίου 09, 2014

World Oceans Day 2014 (U.S. State Department)

John Kerry, Secretary of State, June 8, 2014:

"World Oceans Day is a time to pause and focus on protecting our ocean: our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystem.
Life as we know it wouldn't be possible were it not for our ocean. We depend on the ocean for life’s essentials: the food we eat and the air that we breathe. It provides jobs for millions of people around the world, and a home for countless unique species.


The wonders of the ocean were impressed upon me at an early age in Massachusetts. my father taught me how to fish, and my mother taught me what happens when trash dumped into the ocean ends back up on the shore or kills sea turtles. I learned much more as a Senator working for fishing families that saw their way of life threatened when the oceans weren't properly protected.

We all have a responsibility to protect our ocean against the threats of overfishing, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. The entire system is interdependent, and we ignore that fact at our peril.
The bad news is that our ocean is in trouble. The good news is that we know what’s threatening it, and we know what we need to do in order to deal with these threats.

It’s not lost on any of us that we haven’t yet achieved the political consensus necessary to spur action. And, frankly, we know there’s no way that governments are going to tackle these enormous challenges alone. We need grassroots action to push us over the finish line, and that includes action from businesses, students, community groups, and advocacy and research organizations.

As Secretary of State, I am committed to doing everything I can to leave a healthy, thriving ocean for our children and future generations. But we need to do this together. One week from tomorrow, on June 16-17, I will host the “Our Ocean” conference. We’re bringing together high-level representatives from governments around the world, scientists, the environmental community, industry, and other stakeholders to address the challenges of sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification, and how we can work together to solve them.

Every action counts. It’s our ocean to share and that means we each share the responsibility to act as its steward. So - please pause - enjoy - celebrate - and let’s commit to work together as we chart a new way forward for a healthy ocean and a secure, prosperous planet."

[State Department]
8/6/14
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Τρίτη, Ιουνίου 03, 2014

We need a new revolution (Janez Potočnik)

European Commission, New Environmentalism Summit, Brussels, 3 June 2014:
Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment: 
"Good afternoon everyone, thank you James.
I hope you all agree it has been a fascinating day with really excellent speakers.
Recently I gave a TED talk which had the title 'New Environmentalism and the Circular Economy'. Some of you may have watched it on YouTube so I will try not to repeat too much of what I have said before but some of the points I made in that talk are highly relevant to this one and need to be repeated.

First, though: How did I become interested in environmental issues?
I was born and grew up in Slovenia, a country rich in nature and biodiversity. I am a farmer's son and spent my childhood in close contact with nature. We are proud of nature in our country and we place enormous value on our forests, lakes, mountains and coastline. In fact more than 37% of Slovenia is covered by Natura 2000 –the highest percentage in the EU.
Although my background is in economics and politics, I am also a citizen of the world and a father of 2 sons. I've always been aware of environmental issues, whether global ones such as nuclear power, acid rain, pollution, deforestation, species extinction and so on, or more local issues such as property development or motorway routes.
However, I must admit that it was not until I became Commissioner for Environment that I began to fully realise the extent of some of the challenges we face in the 21st Century. Any alien falling to Earth in our times would be struck by the convergence of a number of environmental crises, to all of which we humans seem to be taking an extraordinarily long time to respond adequately:
  1. Our world is warming in a way which, if unchecked, risks bringing global catastrophe
  2. Our consumption of finite resources is skyrocketing
  3. The ecosystems on which we depend are being degraded
  4. Emblematic species are threatened with extinction
It's not as if we are not aware of these things. It's not as though nobody cares or nobody has been actively campaigning. We have heard enough warnings, read enough papers, seen enough documentaries and protests, and the public largely agrees that something needs to be done. And yet we seem to be stuck in a kind of paralysis which prevents us from making progress on things on which any alien would think we should easily agree, since we need to make very urgent progress.

Why?
For the answers I think we have to look at two elements in particular: Individual behaviour and governance.
There is a good quote from the Polar explorer, Robert Swan. He said "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”. And he's right. Yes, some individuals believe their actions can change the world, and we all know that if 7 billion of us took collective action we could certainly change it, but I think we all know that is not going to happen without some external force directing, or even obliging us.
The vast majority of individuals make choices based on what seems to be best for them. Businesses are similar - if left to their own devices the vast majority will naturally try to make as much profit as possible.
This is normal human behaviour. No matter how aware they may be about environmental impact, an individual will still tend to buy a house, car, washing machine, smartphone, TV and other modern conveniences if they feel they can afford it. As long as each item generates a profit, a business will try to produce as much as possible.
  • Each individual choice is motivated by what will make life better for them personally (and I am just as guilty as the next person by the way). If there are 7 billion people on the planet who all think the same way then the implications for resource use, climate change and biodiversity are staggering. And don't forget that by 2045 we will be 9 billion.
  • Let's dwell on that for a second: The global population rises by more than 200.000 every day. That's a city the size of Brussels every 6 days. Or a new Germany every year. With all the demand that places on land, water, food, feed, fibre, raw materials and energy. Not to mention the emissions, pollution and waste generated.
If we carry on with business as usual, by 2050 we will need three times more resources than we currently use. And the demand for food, feed and fibre will rise by 70 per cent. Yet more than half the ecosystems these resources depend on are already degraded, or are being used beyond their natural limits. And I have not even mentioned global warming.
We can talk all we like about the importance of education; about individuals taking responsibility for the environmental consequences of their actions; about corporate responsibility. However, it is difficult to overcome human nature and I do not believe that 9 billion people are going to change their behaviour voluntarily.
Which brings me to governance (and regulation). We need national and international policies and agreements which restrict individuals' and companies' behaviour. Without it, the environment will always suffer.
And here we come to what is so frustrating for environmentalists: How do we get governments around the globe to take the action needed?
Here I must confess I am very familiar with this particular problem. I am not letting you in on any secrets if I tell you that within the European Commission it has proven very difficult to push through environmental measures during these times of economic crisis. It has proven difficult to integrate environmental considerations into other policy areas. And I suspect almost every Environment Minister in the world will tell you the same thing.
We face constantly the same refrain: times are hard, unemployment is high, job creation and growth must be the priority, not the environment.
Governments are in a position to remove environmentally harmful subsidies. They are in a position to redirect taxes from labour to resource use or pollution. But for a variety of reasons they don't.
Meanwhile, at international level, faith in the UN multilateral negotiating system has taken a battering, in particular after the Copenhagen climate conference. I am well aware from personal experience how difficult, time-consuming and downright tedious some of these negotiations are. I am only too well aware of the 'I won't move unless you do', or 'I won't act unless you pay for it' negotiating tactics. And in the meantime, Rome burns.
So far, so bad.
We can do it!
It was Confucius who said "when it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps".
So far maybe I have sounded like one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That is often the case for environmentalists. But I'm not here to talk about the end of times. My message today is - yes we can, if I can borrow that expression from the current US President. But to do it, we have to get past "it's the economy, stupid" in the words of a previous US President. 

As a "new environmentalist" I believe that there is reason for hope, because basically the path to economic wellbeing and environmental sustainability are the same.
Why am I hopeful? Because of our capacity for creativity and innovation, and because so many of the inefficiencies that we see all around us today can so obviously be tackled by channelling that creativity and innovation. For example:
  1. turning coal into light is still only 3 % efficient,
  2. only 15 % of the energy you put in your petrol tank is used to actually move your car down the road,
  3. 80 % of what we produce is used once and discarded,
  4. Only 1 % of the valuable rare earths that we use in products are recycled at the end of the products life.
Not to mention the fact that the sun produces enough energy in one day to power the world for a year.
Just as in the face of rising labour prices we made miraculous increases in labour productivity I believe that in the face of resource scarcities and rising prices we will be able to perform miracles in raising resource productivity. 
  • To do that we will have to break out of our habits. We are locked-in to our resource intensive ways, to our old industrial patterns of production and consumption.
Everything from our infrastructure to our financial systems, from our consumer habits to our business models are inherited from the industrial revolution. Today we need a new revolution.
Mankind's challenge is to turn the creativity and innovation that so successfully exploited natural resources to provide us with health and prosperity, to rolling out those benefits to billions more people, in ways that exploit resources less and cause less environmental pressure and damage.
To get there we will not only need technological development and innovation; we will also need new business models that decrease impact across the whole life cycle of products. We must share, re-use, update, repair and recycle. We must move from a linear economic model, where we extract, produce, use and throw away, to a circular economy model, where waste from one stream becomes the raw materials for another
To do that, we need governments, businesses and investors on board.
Using markets
To some environmentalists the words 'businesses' and 'investors' are dirty words, symbolic of greed, corruption, inequality and injustice. However, like it or not, we live in market economies and I firmly believe the role of the market will be essential to solving our environmental problems. It is the best means we have, but it is very clear that a free market alone is not enough to bring about the kind of changes we need to see.
The market cannot ensure efficiency in the allocation and use of resources if:
  1. prices do not reflect the true value and costs of resources. And today they don't.
  2. if rewards to capital are disproportionate to other inputs. And today they are.
  3. if managers on annual contracts are induced to make short term investment decisions. And today they are.
  4. if directors' business decisions are overly influenced by bonuses based on short-term share price. And today they are.
As the situation is today, market forces are too slow and imperfect; the financial, business and economic world takes a too short-term view; and politicians tend to work too tightly only around electoral cycles.
We have to address the prevailing short term logic which is built into all our systems, be it political or economic:
  1. Do you know of a politician that has been re-elected because she or he was defending longer term interests over the short term ones?
  2. Do you know a manager who was rewarded because the profits of his or her company were lower that year, but more sustainable in the longer term?
It is imperative that we built more long term logic into our data collection, reporting systems, rewarding mechanisms, decision making processes. We cannot manage the world of the 21st Century without taking into account the longer term picture and consequences. 

Conclusion
My friend Achim Steiner, who you heard earlier, said the following after the Rio+20 Summit:
"We have failed to turn things round in the past 20 years, but underneath that failure there is an extraordinary array of activity and innovation"…. "Twenty years ago, we agreed what to do, now we have the tools to do it. If we do not go into the heart of economic policy, we will meet here at Rio+40 even more culpable. Markets are social constructs. They are not a force like gravity. They can be governed."
I agree with him.
But let me be very clear on one thing: We absolutely need environmental lobbying. We need NGOs and individuals who will bring direct action to the streets and to the wilderness. We need awareness raising campaigns, petitions and protests. The 'old' environmentalism is certainly not dead. It is not even remotely redundant. But to succeed, it needs to be accompanied by a 'new' environmentalism which aims at harnessing the power of both business and government and turning them in the right direction.
Old and New Environmentalism need to go hand in hand in the same way that the economy and the environment need to go hand in hand.
Together we need to make our governments– and yes, the EU also – realise that it's not just the economy, stupid.
If we can succeed in that then maybe the alien observer will be less surprised by our human behaviour.
Thank you."
[europa.eu]
3/6/14


Urgent action needed to safeguard genetic diversity of world’s forests, UN study says

UN, 3 June 2014 – Urgent action to better manage the genetic diversity of forests – under pressure from climate change, exploitation and conversion for other uses – is needed to ensure that the benefits they provide will survive, the United Nations said in a first-of-its-kind report released today. 

“Forests provide food, goods and services which are essential to the survival and well-being of all humanity,” Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General for Forestry at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said on the release of The State of the World's Forest Genetic Resources.
“These benefits all rely on safeguarding the rich store of the world’s forest genetic diversity – which is increasingly at risk,” he added.

The report says that half of the forest species regularly utilized by countries are threatened by the conversion of forests to pastures and farmland, overexploitation and the impacts of climate change. 

Biodiversity in forest genetic resources is also essential, it says, to improving both forest species' productivity and the nutritional value of the foods they produce, which includes leafy vegetables, honey, fruits, seeds, nuts, roots, tubers and mushrooms.
A wide variability in desirable traits, such as fruit size, growing speed, oil composition and pulp proportion, is a prerequisite for breeding and domesticating improved tree species, it says. 

At the same time, it adds, genetic diversity is needed to ensure that forests can adapt to changing environmental conditions, including those stemming from climate change and invasive pests and diseases. 

Among the primary actions called for by the report is stepped up management and data gathering on forests resources. While existing tree species in the world is estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000, only 2,400 (around 3 per cent) are actively managed for the products and services they provide. 

Data from 86 countries in the report show a lack of data and insufficient awareness of the importance of forest genetic resources, Linda Collette, Secretary of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, said, adding that it often translates into national policies that are “partial, ineffective, or non-existent.” 

“Governments need to act and implement the Global Plan of Action for Forest Genetic Resources and FAO and its Commission stand ready to guide, support and assist countries in the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources,” she said.
[un.org]
3/6/14
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Πέμπτη, Μαΐου 22, 2014

New EU initiative to protect biodiversity and fight wildlife crime

European Commission, MEMO, Brussels, 22 May 2014:

B4Life: United for Biodiversity
  1. Why do we need EU Biodiversity for Life? What is the value-added?
EU Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) marks a change in the way the EU provides support to protect biodiversity in developing countries. In the face of the growing global threats to biodiversity, it provides for more resources, strengthened capacity and better coordination with partners.

B4Life is one of EuropeAid’s new flagship initiatives, designed to encourage broad, cross-sector partnerships to tackle major development challenges. For B4Life, this means addressing the related challenges of protecting biodiversity and building sustainable livelihoods in a green economy.
B4Life thus responds both to the growing threat to global ecosystems, including from land use changes, unsustainable use of natural resources, poaching and wildlife crime, pollution and climate change; and to the need of the poorest communities, over 70% of whom live in rural areas and depend directly on ecosystem services for their subsistence.
  1. What are ecosystem services?
Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from the wide variety of ecosystems across the Earth. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as climate regulation, climate change mitigation, flood and disease control, pollination, and the maintenance of soil fertility; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational and cultural benefits; and supporting services, such as genetic diversity and habitats, that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.
  1. What sort of activities might be eligible for B4Life funding?
B4Life will include projects with biodiversity as their main objective. This will include, for example, projects to support the sustainable management of protected areas, to develop trade in biodiversity-related products for sustainable livelihoods, to reduce deforestation and degradation of mangroves for the protection of coasts and nursery habitats for fish, and to increase monitoring and information sharing to fight wildlife crime.
  1. Which regions/countries are targeted by the initiative?
In line with the EU’s Agenda for Change (its policy blueprint to target its resources where they are most needed and can be the most effective), B4Life will focus on those developing countries most in need and with the greatest potential, by paying particular attention to Least Developed Countries and countries containing “biodiversity hotspots”, the places where ecosystems and their services are the richest but also the most threatened, like the Congo Basin, Madagascar, the West African forests, Tropical Andes, Mesoamerica, Indian Western Ghats, Kalimantan…
  1. What is the timeframe of the initiative?
B4Life will run for the current EU financial period, 2014-2020. During this period, there will be regular calls for project proposals according to the needs identified.
  1. How will it work?
A “B4Life Facility” will be created to manage and coordinate delivery of the initiative. The Facility will provide technical support, enhance communication and coordination towards achieving international biodiversity targets and coherence, promote knowledge exchange for partners and beneficiaries, and enhance the visibility and coherence of the EU biodiversity-related interventions.
  1. What is the ‘Wildlife Crisis Window’?
The wildlife crisis window is a contribution to addressing the wildlife poaching and trafficking crisis throughout the entire chain of wildlife consumption.
The challenge of wild life trafficking is huge and has recently experienced a dramatic acceleration. Illegal wildlife trade of endangered species has a major impact on biodiversity and represents a real threat to national security of many countries, and especially in Africa. Unprecedented poaching levels and sophisticated smuggling capabilities are indicative of organised criminal activity, severely compromising the security of entire communities.
The B4Life wildlife crisis window will scale-up the means allocated to tackle this issue, while addressing both supply- and demand-side, at local, national, regional and international levels. This will include increased protection of priority areas, monitoring and investigation measures and support to organisations specialised in the fight against international trafficking of endangered species.
[europa.eu]
22/5/14
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