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Environment

World biodiversity conference opens in India

An international conference on biodiversity opened in Hyderabad, India on Monday. Delegates are discussing solutions to the epidemic of extinctions threatening to wipe out the planet's rarest plants and animals.

Delegates from 193 nations are gathered in Hyderabad for the next 10 days to discuss biodiversity and environmental protection at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 11). The goal of the conference is clear: to finally act on plans and targets set at the last round of talks two years ago in Nagoya, Japan. At that time, a 20-point plan was created to fight mass extinctions and the loss of vital habitats around the world. Governments were to use the following decade to prioritize the protection of biodiversity. But, since then, the convention has only been ratified by five nations.

Bilder aus Hyderabad, vom COP 11 (Konferenz für Biodiversität) Was: Konferenz Teilnehmer vom COP 11, Konferenz für Biodiversität, in Hyderabad Datum: Oktober 8,2012 Credit: SCBD/ Govt of India

Delegates from 193 nations are at the talks

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, says the conference in Hyderabad comes at just the right time. "Although we have seen an increase in commitment from governments and civil society on the need to protect nature and enhance biodiversity conservation, we still see a mismatch between these commitments and real action."

Funding trouble

Discussions on day one have focused on questions about how to fund biodiversity. Jane Smart from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature believes that while Europe is finding itself unable to spend adequately for the preservation of biodiversity, more could be done to improve private sector involvement.

A Greenpeace banner protesting the hosting by India of the COP11 conference, atop the Charminar monument in Hyderabad,

A Greenpeace banner hangs over the Charminar monument in Hyderabad, protesting against the conference

"Individual governments could also do more. When you consider a government's buying power - if they went for a greener alternative when doing their spending, it could make a major difference," Smart told DW while attending the talks in India.

The German government has also sent a delegation to the conference in Hyderabad. On their website, the Federal Environment Ministry has noted the funding of biodiversity issue as one of their main focus areas. Germany also wants to see more effort made to maintain marine biodiversity.

German Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmeier will not be attending the conference however. Despite being one of over 90 countries to have signed the international Convention on Biological Diversity, Germany has not yet ratified the international agreement.

Conservationists sceptical

Ahead of the conference, environmental protection organisations expressed scepticism about the possible outcomes of the meeting.

A video screen shows German President of the Federal Environment Agency Jochen Flasbarth presenting the opening address at the opening ceremony of the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in Nagoya city, Aichi prefecture, Japan, 18 October 2010.

Only five countries have ratified the agreement made in Nagoya

"In Nagoya, we agreed on a big plan with ambitious yet realistic targets to save our planet's biodiversity," Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature told news agency DPA. "We need to keep the momentum going. Biodiversity loss continues and has breached safe planetary boundaries.”

According to the group's list of threatened species, 41 percent of amphibians, 33 percent of corals, 25 percent of mammals, 13 percent of birds and 30 percent of conifers face extinction.

Lasse Gustavsson, WWF International's Executive Director for Conservation, was more cautious on what to expect from the conference in Hyderabad. "Governments must prove that Nagoya was not just a platform for empty promises. They need to start taking real steps and implement the targets and commitments they agreed on."

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