Thursday, 25 October 2012

Has the world ceased to care about biodiversity loss?

A guest blog by Dr Terry Parr of CEH, who spoke at a side event during the recent Convention on Biological Diversity (COP11) meeting in Hyderabad, India.

Has the world ceased to care about biodiversity loss? Judging by the dearth of UK media coverage of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) high level conference of national government representatives held in Hyderabad, India over the past two weeks, you'd be forgiven for thinking so.

I dipped into the middle of the event and tested the mood of the things. At a previous CBD meeting governments agreed on some challenging new targets to halt biodiversity loss and maintain essential ecosystem services by 2020. But here in Hyderabad, discussions on how much the rich north would pay the poor south to help achieve those targets were faltering against the hard rock of economic reality. My own small contribution was also in danger of becoming irrelevant.

I was there as co-organiser of an EC side-event on "Mechanisms for delivering biodiversity benefits from REDD+". REDD+ is a new UNFCCC programme that aims to pay tropical countries to reduce destruction and degradation of their forests.  But it was becoming apparent that the initially high hopes that REDD+ would also deliver co-benefits in the form of biodiversity and sustainable development were also being undermined.

Our side event discussed the implementation of REDD+ from policy, business and research perspectives. I talked about a new EC project (called ROBIN) involving 12 European and Latin American partners, coordinated by CEH. I explained how our socio-ecological research will underpin the development of practical decision support and monitoring tools. But I also stressed how it would also help us understand the risks we take if we fail to take into account "the ROle of BIodiversity in climate change mitigatioN" (ROBIN).

And how did it all turn out in the end? Well, there was a last-minute compromise: developed countries will double funding to support efforts in developing states to help reach the 2020 targets and a call for enhanced collaboration between the CBD and the UN climate change initiatives, including REDD+.  A result of sorts. So perhaps my time was not wasted after all.

Terry Parr

Dr Terry Parr, head of a section at CEH's Lancaster site which works across Water and Biodiversity Research programmes, leads the CEH topic on "Observations, Patterns and Predictions for Biodiversity" and is involved with several national and international ecological research networks.

Additional information

Convention on Biological Diversity COP11 (8-19 October 2012)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

REDD+ programme

Role of Biodiversity in Climate Change Mitigation (ROBIN)

Staff page and research interests of Dr Terry Parr, CEH

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