Biodiversity conference sees Germany taking the lead

29th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

The huge UN conference on biodiversity taking place in Bonn is heading into its final day, with Germany attempting to bring all sides to an agreement

Bonn -- The German government is striving to ensure a major UN conference on biodiversity being held in Bonn achieves significant results as it heads into its final day on Friday.

Germany has put forward a "Life Web" initiative aimed at expanding a global network of conservation areas on land and sea by 2010. Under the initiative, poorer countries rich in biodiversity will be able to put forward conservation areas to be funded by the industrialized world.

Speaking to the delegates from more than 190 countries attending the meeting on the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would "personally back this platform" and seek the support of other countries.

Merkel also announced a significant increase in Germany's financial contributions to conserve indigenous forests and other ecosystems, pledging 500 million euros (785 million dollars) by the end of 2012 and a further 500 million euros a year after that.

The pledge, which catapults Germany into leadership, alongside Norway, in protecting biodiversity, drew applause from conference delegates.

Germany has been a leader of the environmental movement for more than thirty years with one of the world's largest and most influential green parties. The environment is also a personal favourite of Angela Merkel, a strategy which has bought her into conflict with more traditional conservatives such as US President George W Bush.

Conservation organizations have welcomed the Life Web initiative, with spokeswoman Rebecca Patten of the Nature Conservancy calling the conservation areas the "foundation stone" for a global conservation strategy. She stressed that the kind of funding put forward by Merkel was essential for the initiative to succeed.

Some 60 countries, including Germany, Britain, France, Japan, Poland and the Netherlands have put their weight behind an initiative of the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) to back moves to end deforestation.

All at the conference acknowledge the core function of forests, particularly tropical rain forests, in protecting biodiversity and also as the world's "lungs" in soaking up carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

CBD General Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, the senior UN official at the conference, also backed the initiative.

On Thursday, a major international study on financing the conservation of sensitive ecosystems was being presented, with conference participants stressing the commercial potential for new technologies gleaned from nature. DPA

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