UN conference urged to agree on biodiversity goals
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Wednesday that flexibility was needed to avoid a failure of the UN Conference on Biodiversity beginning in Bonn next week, dpa reported.
"The conference is at a crossroads," the minister told a news conference in Berlin. "In essence it is about the survival of mankind."
The meeting, which runs from May 19-30, brings together around 5,000 representatives from 190 countries, among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Its aim is to "reduce significantly" the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010, a target laid down at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and the Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg a decade later.
Gabriel said efforts to save threatened species from extinction was one of the most important global political issues along with measures to combat climate change.
The conference agenda includes the destruction of indigenous forests and the plundering of the sea, as well as the question how to counter the resulting loss of biodiversity.
Other themes include tapping traditional knowledge on medicines, the need to promote biodiversity in the world's poorest cities and the impact of biofuels on agriculture.
Gabriel appealed to Brazil and other nations to show willingness to compromise so that an agreement taking into account the interests of both the world's richest and poorest countries could be reached.
"I hope that Brazil shows more flexibility," he said in reference to the South American powerhouse's decision to link progress at the conference to concessions in World Trade Organization (WTO) talks.
"Adopting such a hardline position will not benefit them in the long run," the minister said.
Gabriel said Germany wanted to see an equal sharing of the benefits arising from the use of animal and plant life in products made by the pharmaceutical industry.
"Developing countries are quite right to describe it as biopiracy when industrial nations help themselves to genetic resources in the rain forests and produce medicines from them without paying a cent in return," he said.
The ninth conference of the parties to the Convention Biological Diversity (CBD) is the last major gathering before the 2010 target date. Its central aim is to draft a document similar to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to take over after 2010.
The organizers are keen to secure binding commitment to clearly laid down targets, along the lines of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol global warming and the successor agreement which began to take shape at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali in December.