NAIROBI, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Governments from around the world will next month gather in Nagoya, Japan to make three key decisions that will determine whether current and future generations continue to benefit from nature's riches.
On the table is a comprehensive 10-year strategy that, if enacted, would revolutionize the way the human beings manage and interact with the world, and bring immense social and economic benefits to people worldwide.
Scientists warn that such action is urgent to prevent tipping points, such as the collapse of fisheries, a widespread dieback of the Amazon rainforest and cascades of extinction triggered by invasive species. "The three big outcomes of the COP10 meeting in Nagoya would be global agreement on a new strategy, the mobilization of the finance needed to make it happen, and a new legally-binding protocol on access and benefit sharing," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD). "The decisions we take now will affect biodiversity for the coming millennium. We can't have one outcome without the others. The COP10 meeting is all or nothing," he said in a statement on Thursday.
Also up for agreement in Nagoya are large flows of finance that will be needed to enact the strategy. For instance, to support developing countries that are asked to protect large areas of wilderness for the good of all of humanity.
The costs will be high but the returns on the investment will be far greater as biodiversity provides an important variety of goods and services that benefit humankind, from ensuring food security and clean water supplies to stabilizing our climate.
According to UNCBD, the third piece of the puzzle is a new set of international rules that would provide transparent access to the biological resources of the world while ensuring that countries and communities get a fair share of any benefits that arise from their use such as when companies develop commercial medicines from plants or other life-forms.
This new 'protocol' on access and benefit-sharing could create major incentives for countries to protect their forests and other natural capital while enabling businesses to use biological resources to develop useful new products in a sustainable way.
Scientists say Kenya's biodiversity plays a key role in generating sustainable livelihoods and contributing to national development.
The country has diverse habitats that include mountain forests, grasslands, coastal and marine ecosystems, and a rich variety of crops that provide food and incomes for millions of people.
Kenya is home to Africa's "Big Five" mammals (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant) and rich coral reefs, so safaris and diving are major tourist attractions that generate substantial economic benefits. "This biodiversity is at risk from threats that include pollution, changing land use and encroachment of populations on protected areas," the scientists warn. "Efforts to preserve biodiversity are hindered by inadequate financial and technical resources, a low level of awareness about national biodiversity goals, and poor institutional and regulatory coordination at national and sub-national levels."
The East African nation has a strong policy on protected areas and has established 27 national parks, 34 national reserves, and other protected areas, although 70 percent of Kenyan biodiversity still occurs outside of these areas.
Conservation is also happening in places such as gene banks, botanic gardens and aquaria.
The meeting in Japan, known as COP10, will bring together 193 parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international law that was created at Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
Since then, there has been growing awareness of how important nature is to human health, livelihoods and national economies.
But at the same time the state of the natural world has continued to decline steeply, as revealed in the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 report which was released in May 2010.
In 2002 governments agreed to reduce significantly the loss of biodiversity by 2010. But they failed in large part because they did not address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss such as a lack of awareness of the true value of biodiversity and a failure to include the true costs of biodiversity loss in policies and plans.
With a new, more ambitious and better-designed strategy, governments now have another chance to create a global agreement to preserve and wisely use our planet's living resources in ways that bring benefits to all. But the meeting in Japan could be a missed opportunity if governments cannot reach agreement on key issues.
COP10 is preceded by a special High Level Meeting on Biodiversity of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22.
Through a series of interactive panel discussions, governments will discuss the strategic plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the role of biodiversity in sustainable development and in the fight against climate change, and the relationship of biodiversity to the Millennium Development Goals.