Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Human element of species protection

Hailed as the biological equivalent of the Kyoto climate accord, agreements signed during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity seek to stem the loss of species by protecting the habitats that support them.

It's not easy to steal the show from a wide-eyed panda, but actual people managed to share top billing at an environmental conference in Nagoya, Japan, at the weekend. Hailed as the biological equivalent of the Kyoto climate accord, agreements signed during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity seek to stem the loss of species by protecting the habitats that support them.

But implicit in many of its goals are attempts to link biodiversity to human well-being and, in particular, food security. Such an approach was decades in the making - and long overdue.

Placing food security with conservation is one way to bridge the divide between pragmatism and ideology, a gap that too often derails the most well-meaning policies. Such an approach may be just what the world needed to wake up to the dangers of mismanaging natural resources. Monique Barbut, the CEO of the Global Environment Facility, put it simply: "Achieving poverty reduction requires the recognition of the value of biodiversity."

As Ms Barbut suggested, properly valuing the world's biology may be the best way to conserve it. Delegates from more than 190 nations agreed to increase the area of sea and land under permanent protection by 2020. While the details remain to be worked out, marine reserves are one of the most effective conservation practices to protect fisheries that are the main source of protein for so many people.

The World Bank estimates improper management and unnecessary subsidies cost the global economy a conservative $50 billion (Dh182.5 billion) annually. As countries in the Gulf already know, mismanagement of the natural environment can wreak havoc on traditional food sources - the hammour fishery comes quickest to mind.

Not everyone will be content with the convention's final protocols. Some conservation groups would have preferred more robust targets, and there's always the question of who pays for the protection.

Yet as the failed climate talks at Copenhagen showed last year, sweeping treaties on environmental policy are notoriously complex and fraught with sovereign interests. Incremental steps and clearly defined targets are essential. As the story that unfolded last week in Nagoya suggests, the world is beginning to understand the link between what feeds us and what sustains us.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 A still from the 27-second black-and-white video that was taken using a satellite owned and operated by Skybox Imaging.

Burj Khalifa stars in HD video from space

A 27-second black and white video of a plane flying over Dubai's skyscrapers captures the imagination of some.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 JP Duminy played a cameo knock of 52 not out from 35 balls to tip the game in Delhi Daredevils' favour. Pawan Singh / The National

Kolkata Knight Riders lose way as Duminy sizzles for Delhi Daredevils

JP Duminy keeps his head as cameo at the death helps swing it in Delhi's favour in Dubai after captain Karthik plays the anchor role.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 The mother removes the noose with the help of her husband from around the neck of Balal.

In pictures: Mother forgives her son’s killer as he awaited his execution

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National