Life Insurance for our Changing World
week, in New York, leaders of the world will review progress made
towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These
goals embody the international community's aspirations for a better
world, where hunger and poverty are eradicated, all people enjoy
basic rights, and equity and health prevail in all countries.
We call upon the leaders to recognize that to make the MDGs a
reality in a highly populated planet, biological diversity needs
to be used sustainably and its benefits more equitably shared.
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth: genes, species,
ecosystems. The services we use from ecosystems, such as clean
water, food, fuel and fiber, medicines, and climate control, cannot
be provided without biodiversity. Failure to conserve and use
biological diversity sustainably will perpetuate inequitable and
unsustainable growth, deeper poverty, new and more rampant illnesses,
continued loss of species, and a world with ever-more degraded
environments which are less healthy for people. Unless we change
the way we use natural resources and distribute the wealth generated,
the MDGs will be remembered only as a utopian ideal.
The importance of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity
to achieving the MDGs has already been recognized by world leaders
in their support for achieving a significant reduction in the
rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 - the so-called 2010 target.
They set this target because biodiversity is disappearing at an
unacceptable rate as a result of human activities. Habitat conversion,
overexploitation, pollution and climate change, are driven by
an ever increasing demand for natural resources. This requires
urgent and concerted action. We must sustainably manage and protect
biodiversity, guarantee the continued provision of ecosystem goods
and services and ensure that the world has the capacity to adapt
to future changes.
As advances in reducing poverty and improving well-being for
our growing human population are made, we will more clearly understand
the need for effectively functioning ecosystems. A wide range
of crop and livestock genetic diversity is essential to ensure
that our agro-systems can adapt to new challenges from climate,
pests and diseases. The biological wealth in marine environments
will be needed to feed growing populations and provide livelihoods
for coastal communities around the world. Wetlands are needed
as water regulators to protect us from floods and storm surges,
to help in moderating climatic change with other ecosystems such
as forests, and to act as living filters for pollutants and excess
fertilizers. We must not forget that biodiversity is central to
many of the world's cultures, the source of legend and myth, the
inspiration for art and music. It is the basis for medicinal knowledge,
drawing on the property of a variety of plants and animals for
healing. Provision of these services across all these ecosystems
depends on maintaining biological diversity.
We, the heads of the secretariats of the international Conventions
dealing with biological diversity, emphasize the important role
that biodiversity plays in the achievement of all the MDGs. Biodiversity
can indeed help alleviate hunger and poverty, can promote good
human health, and be the basis for ensuring freedom and equity
for all. All of us rely on biodiversity, directly or indirectly
for our health and welfare. The 2010 biodiversity target is thus
the foundation for our wellbeing, and continued sustainable existence.
We must ensure that biodiversity will be available for us, and
for all future generations. We thus urge governments and civil
society to act in helping to conserve and use biological diversity
sustainably, thus ensuring all a share in the benefits of a diverse
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