G8 ministers pledge support for biodiversity
At the recent G8 summit in Siracusa, Italy, global environment ministers agreed strong actions which underline the links between conserving biodiversity, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and reducing poverty. “The BirdLife Partnership welcomes the principles outlined in the Siracusa Charter on Biodiversity, and urges more action to agree concrete conservation targets post 2010”, said Dr Marco Lambertini – BirdLife’s CEO – as he addressed the G8 delegates.
The Minister of the Environment of Italy convened the meeting which was attended by G8 Environment Ministers - together with the Ministers of Australia, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic and Sweden as the current and upcoming Presidencies of the European Union, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea and South Africa.
Following three days of presentations and debates – which included input from BirdLife and some other Non Governmental Organisations – the delegates agreed the new ‘Carta di Siracusa on Biodiversity’. “The Siracusa Charter highlights in particular the link between the conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and global, social and environmental issues such as poverty and climate change”, said Dr Lambertini.
BirdLife has shown that poverty elimination and biodiversity conservation are issues that must be tackled side-by-side. “We all depend on environmental goods and services, but for poor people their dependence is much higher. By supporting careful management of environmental resources by local communities, we’re promoting sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity into the future”, said David Thomas – BirdLife’s Head of Environment and Sustainable Development.
“The BirdLife Partnership welcomes the principles outlined in the Siracusa Charter on Biodiversity” —Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife’s CEO
Biodiversity also provides the critical ecosystem services upon which sustainable development depends, including air and water purification, soil conservation, disease control, and reduced vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms and landslides. “BirdLife strongly supports the Siracusa Charter’s call to maintain and restore the long-term flow of ecosystem services that are vital for both people and wildlife”, said Marco Lambertini. “In particular we welcome the emphasis on the role of biodiversity in tackling climate change, through invaluable ecosystem services like carbon storage and sequestration”.
BirdLife champions mechanisms that recognise the role of ecosystems, like forests, in combating climate change. In Siracusa we urged the G8 ministers to ensure that the forthcoming UNFCCC meeting in Copenhagen later this year agrees a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation that recognises the value of forests, promotes their conservation and restoration, and generates financial incentives for local and national economies in countries who preserve their forests for everyone’s benefit.
“We strongly support the charter’s call to develop joined-up policies that value the critical role which biodiversity and ecosystems play in both regulating our climate and in adaptation to climate change”, said Melanie Heath – BirdLife’s Head of Climate Change. “Healthy bio-diverse environments play a vital role in increasing resilience to climate change - enabling both people and nature to better cope with existing climate variability as well as future climate change”.
The charter also highlights that the world is failing in its 2010 pledge to achieve a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biodiversity. Delegates at the G8 meeting agreed on the unmistakable need to strengthen conservation efforts, and that significant economic losses occur when biodiversity is unsustainably managed.
“We must not repeat again the delusions and disappointments of previous global deadlines on biodiversity conservation” —Marco Lambertini
“BirdLife is pleased that the Siracusa Charter highlights a need for planning a common path for post 2010”, said Dr Lambertini. “However, it is vitally important that any post 2010 objectives and targets are specific, time-bound and measurable. We must not repeat again the delusions and disappointments of previous global deadlines on biodiversity conservation. Nature’s clock is ticking, and the time to act is now!”
Minsters also called for further better integration of science, research and policy, especially in developing countries - a call echoed and supported by the BirdLife Partnership – and acknowledged the role of biodiversity in business and wider economics.
BirdLife was one of only two conservation organisations invited to speak at the Siracusa meeting, and has had an active engagement in the G8 process in both 2007 (Potsdam, Germany), and 2008 (Kobe, Japan): with input from BirdLife Partners in USA (Audubon), Canada (Nature Canada), UK (RSPB), Japan (Wild Bird Society of Japan) Germany (NABU), Italy (LIPU), Brazil (SAVE Brazil), South Africa (BirdLife South Africa), India (BNHS), and Mexico (Pronatura). Claudio Celada, Conservation Director at LIPU, played a key role in facilitating the Partnership’s successes in Siracusa.
By providing support at an international level, collaborating closely with convention Secretariats, attending meetings such as Convention on Biodiversity Conference of the Parties and specialist working groups, BirdLife Partners are well-placed to follow-up the consequences of policy work at national and local level.
Click to download the Siracusa Charter