Key outcomes at U.N. talks to preserve nature


A U.N. meeting of nearly 200 countries agreed on Saturday new targets for 2020 to protect nature and a new global pact aimed at giving developing countries more share of profits made from their genetic resources.

Delegates agreed to \”take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services\”.

The new goal was set after the world failed to meet a target for a \”significant reduction\” of biological diversity by 2010.

A 20-point \”strategic plan\” to safeguard biodiversity includes the following goals for 2020:

  • At least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas are conserved
  • The extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained
  • The rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved, and where feasible brought close to zero and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced
  • All fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably
  • Pollution is brought to levels not detrimental to the functions of ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed


Delegates agreed to expand a 2008 moratorium on ocean fertilisation, in which large areas are sprinkled with iron or other nutrients to artificially spur growth of phytoplankton, which soak up carbon dioxide.

Other geo-engineering projects, such as those that try to control climate change by cutting the amount of sunlight hitting the earth, will also not take place until science can justify such activities and risks for the environment are considered.

Small scale scientific research studies conducted in controlled settings will be excluded. A footnote also said the term geo-engineering would exclude the capture and storage underground of carbon emissions from power stations and refineries.


Current funding to safeguard biodiversity is about $3 billion a year but some developing countries had said this should be increased 100-fold.

The final agreement said funding would \”increase substantially\” by 2020.

During the conference, Japan offered $2 billion over three years from 2010, while France pledged more than 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) from 2011-2020. But it was unclear if all of the pledged funding was new money.

Genetic resources protocol

Countries also agreed rules for sharing genetic resources, a step that could hand developing nations billions of dollars from drug, agri-resources and cosmetics firms.

The new \”Nagoya Protocol\” aims to give nations much better control over resources, from trees to fungi and from fish to frogs, that can lead to cures for cancer or new crops more resistant to climate change.

For example, it creates a clearing house to share data, and outlines the rules of compliance and dispute resolution as well as rules to monitor the use of genetic resources, such as the creation of designated check points.