The meeting of the Global Biodiversity Forum (GBF) involves about 100 participants from over 30 countries, including representatives from 25 Governments, key intergovernmental organizations (such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank) and leading non-governmental organizations and scientific institutions.
Biological diversity, or "biodiversity", is the sum total of all life forms and ecological complexes on Earth, covering the diversity of genomes, species and ecosystems. It is not an abstract concept, but rather an integral part of daily life, providing goods and services essential to the livelihoods, aspirations and survival of individuals, families, communities and societies worldwide. Biodiversity conservation is essential to maintaining watershed protection, soil productivity, climate regulation and nutrient cycling, for example.
The Earth's biodiversity is being lost at a rate unprecedented in human history, due to an onslaught of human activities leading to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats and the over-exploitation of living resources, among other threats. To respond to this crisis, the Convention on Biological Diversity was signed by most of the world's Governments at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It is the first comprehensive international agreement committing Governments to conserve and sustainably use the Earth's biological resources. Over 165 Governments have now ratified the Convention.
Five years after the signing of the Convention, fundamental questions have arisen regarding what its effective implementation means in tangible terms. Governments and stakeholder groups are struggling to develop tools to measure tangible progress, and to establish more concrete implementation targets for achieving the Convention's objectives.
The Forum will focus on a range of biodiversity indicators and targets that could be used by the Convention's Parties to develop more effective national implementation reports and to measure and achieve tangible progress in implementing the Convention. The meeting is convened in response to decisions of the November 1996 meeting of the Convention Parties in Buenos Aires, which encouraged Parties to set measurable conservation and sustainable use targets. The Parties also formally endorsed work to establish a "core set" of biodiversity indicators for measuring progress, covering, inter alia, forest, agricultural, marine/coastal, and freshwater ecosystems.
Co-sponsors of the Forum include: IUCN - The World Conservation Union; UNEP; the World Resources Institute (WRI); the Governments of Costa Rica, Denmark and Sweden; the Biodiversity Action Network (BIONET); the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); the World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF) and the Worldwatch Institute.
Forum to discuss possible targets and measurements to address problem of global biodiversity loss
For more information, please contact:
UNEP Regional Office for North America
Two UN Plaza, Room 803
New York, NY 10017
UNEP News Release 1997/14