The Convention on Biological Diversity: Was it enough?

Photo by Haja Nirina |

The past two weeks have been a great one for biodiversity lovers and conservationalists alike. The Convention on Biological Diversity, which began in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, met in Nagoya, Japan in October and made the most progress we’ve seen in terms of political will to preserve biodiversity to date – potentially.

The technicalities of such a political conference are greatly complicated; however, the missions within many agendas were accomplished. The outcome was that Parties:

• Agreed to at least halve and where feasible bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests;

• Established a target of 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas;

• Through conservation and restoration, Governments will restore at least 15 percent of degraded areas; and

• Will make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs.

Although some of these targets were lower than expected by some groups (Conservation International, for example – who has Harrison Ford on their roster), they are great steps in the right direction,  if the steps are taken.

I’ve been a proud supporter of biodiversity from the moment I started my education about the environment and the issues we face. However, it is this knowledge I’ve gained that leads me to know that targets are simply targets until they’re reached. We just can’t afford to have another case of the Kyoto Protocol, where targets mean nothing to so many countries.

Another worrisome aspect of these outcomes is in their wording. “Making special efforts” does not give us a universal definition of what to do – and as such, may not elicit the response we truly wanted.

It is for this reason that we must keep these goals in mind as we move forward. I speak rather critically of these newfound objectives – but this does not mean I do not have hope for them. I simply raise these questions to provoke us to keep thinking about biodiversity and to understand that this is not the end of the problem.


Fellow Starfish followers – please comment below and let us know your opinions. Are these outcomes strong enough for you? What else should we commit to in order to ensure that we achieve our goals for biodiversity?