Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Biodiversity Test

First post this year. Not that I've been on holidays for three weeks, no. On the contrary, the year's started sleeply, after the usual short end of year break.

Like millions of people, I went to see James Cameron's Avatar during the break. I had never seen a Cameron film (not even Titanic), but I highly recommend Avatar: a perfect fit to start this year, designated the Intenational Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations.

[I am a bit surprised that apparently so few commentators have seen in Avatar a parabol on what's happening now to our Planet and our indigenous peoples. Read Erik Assadourian's piece Avatar meets Crude on the Worldwatch Institute's blog, if you're not convinced.]

Coming back to the designation of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, the UN decided it because the governments of the world at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002 had pledged to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss by 2010. Sadly, that's another broken promise: biodiversity has continued and still continues to shrink. For this reason, I'm a bit surprised that the UN is putting so much emphasis on "celebrating". There's not much to celebrate, and a lot to be ashamed of, I would think.

There is a good chance that the creation of the proposed Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, also known in the policy jargon as "the IPCC of biodiversity") is agreed this year, and this is good.

But if we're all serious about conserving biodiversity (Life on Earth), a good outcome for this year could be the adoption of a Biodiversity Test that would be used to screen all sectorial and cross-sectorial activities liable to adversely affect biodiversity. Any proposal that would not meet the Biodiversity Test would be stopped, and their authors sent back to the drawing board.

If we're all serious...

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