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2010: International Year of Biodiversity

It’s turning out to be a busy year for biodiversity, especially as the UN has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, coinciding with the 2010 Biodiversity Target, which aims to halt the decline in biodiversity by the end of 2010.


Raising awareness of biodiversity: events and activities in 2010

The International Year of Biodiversity was declared by the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2006, with the intended goal of raising the awareness of the importance of biodiversity through activities and events around the globe. Planned events range from government-led initiatives to NGOs providing support and resources for national events, such as the International Day for Biological Diversity on the 22nd of May 2010.

In the UK, the Natural History Museum is co-ordinating IYB-UK, the partnership supporting the IYB. Events in the UK during the year include the Bristol Festival of Nature and an exhibition at the Royal Institution on The Case of the Deviant Toad.


The importance of biodiversity

Biodiversity refers to the variety of species, genes and ecosystems that exist, and is a key indicator of the health of any ecosystem.

Biodiversity is important for many of reasons. We only need to look at the wide range of ecosystem services that are provided by a biologically diverse environment – along with the biological resources and social benefits that we often take for granted – to realise that a decline in biodiversity could adversely affect environmental stability worldwide.

Approaching the point of no return

As according to Professor Bob Watson, Defra chief scientific adviser and former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we are approaching a ‘point of no return’. This is a pressing concern especially considering that climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked: immediate action is essential.


The economics of biodiversity

Another biodiversity-related initiative currently underway is The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study. The study, led by UNEP with support from Defra, the European Commission, and German Federal Ministry for the Environment, was started in 2007 in response to a proposal by the G8+5 Environment Ministers, with the aim of highlighting the major global economic benefits of biodiversity, and the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

TEEB aims to demonstrate that ‘economics can be an powerful instrument in biodiversity policy’, while also raising awareness of the impact that individuals can have upon the environment. Autumn 2010 will also see the release of the final TEEB synthesis report, in time for platforms such as the Convention on Biological Diversity COP10 meeting, which takes place in October in Nagoya, Japan.

Wild flowers

Hope for the Earth’s biodiversity

The strong focus on Biodiversity through 2010 should make it the year when the implications of a decline in biodiversity are not only fully realised, but also acted upon. A concerted effort is needed to help halt the decline in biodiversity – fortunately, later this year in Japan, there will be a real chance to help safeguard the results of billions of years of evolution.

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