By Stephen Leahy
NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 19, 2010 (IPS)
The accelerating destruction of natural habitats will take millions of years to recover from, scientists have warned.
This may be the last chance to apply the brakes, Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme, reminded delegates representing the 193 member countries of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
“This meeting is being held to address a very simple fact: we are destroying life on this Earth,” Steiner said at the opening plenary meeting Monday. “It is absolutely essential that nations work together here.”
Ryu Matsumoto, Japan’s environment minister, warned that the world was about to reach a threshold where the loss of biodiversity would become irreversible.
“We’re now close to a tipping point on biodiversity,” he said. “We may cross that in the next 10 years.”
With 16,000 participants, the Oct. 18-29 gathering is by far the biggest international meeting on biodiversity. The term biodiversity refers to the variety of plants, animals and other species that provide a wide range of services to humanity.