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Funding deal at biodiversity conference leaves shortfall

Poor countries are to get a doubling of annual funding to slow species extinction by fostering national parks and sustainable land usage. The deal was reached at a UN biodiversity conference in India.

The boost in funding to about 7.7 billion euros ($10 billion), mainly from European countries, is still vastly short of the 115 to 330 billion euros which an expert panel said was needed to slow habitat loss and meet goals set at a similar conference in Japan two years ago.

Saturday's promise of extra funding, reached at the end of the two-week conference in Hyderabad, requires at least 75 percent of recipient poor countries to report on their spending by 2015 and to draw up national biodiversity plans.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias speaking at a press conference. Photo: ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/GettyImages)

Brazilian de Souza Dias faces a daunting task of saving species

The executive secretary of the Convention of Biological Diversity Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias said despite economic crises the conference result showed that "the world is committed to implementing the Convention of Biodiversity (CBD)."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that a quarter of the world's mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41 percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building corals are now at risk of extinction.

Funding hit by economic crises

During the conference, Brazil and China expressed sharp opposition to higher payments for species protection projects. Canada, Japan and Australia also expressed reluctance.

"For many European countries as well, additional payments currently are difficult in light of the continent's budget situation," said Guenter Mitlacher, leader of biological diversity at the German office of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

But another representative, WWF's conservation chief Lasse Gustavsson said "the deal reached on financing... is a disappointing result, because it is not nearly enough money to reach the ambitious targets to protect biodiversity the world set two years ago."

"In the context of the financial crisis, this is a good deal," French Environment Minister Delphine Batho said.

European commissioner for the environment Janez Potocnik welcomed the deal as "an essential contribution."

The Hyderabad conference awarded the next CBD meeting in 2014 to South Korea, where the focus will be on protecting the world's largely unregulated oceans.

ipj/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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