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Biodiversity is a critical, and often little understood component of the health of our planet. At the recent Conference on Biodiversity, held this year in Nagoya, Japan, this issue was debated and reviewed by many of the top scientists in the field.

18,000 people attended the meeting, representing the 193 parties that are signatories to the International Convention on Biodiversity. Loss of habitat and climate change are recognized as the key factors in the ongoing decline in biodiversity throughout the world.

The meeting had three key goals on its agenda, all of which the participants were able to accomplish over the course of the multi-day conference.

The first goal was the adoption of a new ten year Strategic Plan to help steer national and international efforts to preserve biodiversity. This plan requires enhanced efforts to meet the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The second goal was to create a resource mobilization strategy that would see an increase in official development assistance and support for biodiversity.

The third goal was the creation of a new international protocol on access and sharing of the benefits resulting from the use of the world’s genetic resources.

At their core, these goals are about the idea of living in harmony with the world.

The “Aichi Target”, the new Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, was adopted at the meeting. It included 20 targets, broken down into five strategic goals that address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reduce the pressures on biodiversity, safeguard biodiversity at all levels, enhance the benefits provided by biodiversity, and provide for increased size and number of protected areas.

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Some of the most important targets in the strategic plan included an agreement to at least halve, and where possible bring close to zero, the rate of habitat loss, including forests. The signatories also agreed to establish a target of 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas as protected spaces. Other targets include a call to governments to restore at least 15 percent of degraded land, and a special call went out to reduce the pressures on coral reefs.

Parties also agreed to a substantial increase in the level of financial resources in support of implementation of the Convention.

The “Aichi Target” will be the guideline on biodiversity not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system. Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into national biodiversity strategy and action plans within two years.

The key to preventing biodiversity loss is preventing habitat loss. Human population growth puts immense pressure on habitat spaces, as does the ongoing pattern of climate change.  Ultimately, the challenge to the Convention is finding a way to manage human growth and habitats so that they can co-exist.

Colin Dunn was born and raised in Northern Alberta. Growing up in the boreal forest gave him an appreciation for nature, an appreciation that was enhanced by the works of his artist mother, Svala Dunn, who captured the landscapes and wildlife of the north in her oils and watercolors. He holds a Degree in Geography from the University of Alberta, with a concentration in Urban Studies. He has since found career in information technology, but still pursues his first interests in geography and the environment. He lives and works in southern Vancouver Island, with his wife and three children.

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