Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hope for the Future

Last year, the disaster that was COP-15, the Convention on Climate Change that took place in Copenhagen, there wasn't a whole lot of hope for the future. After all, this huge conference that was supposed to bring about all sort of changes that would encourage us all, it was even held in the greenest city in the greenest country on the planet. You would expect that all that environmentalism would wipe onto the delegates. Well it was an epic fail.

So now we have COP16, it's going to be held in Cancun Mexico. When I heard about the location, the thought of nice climate, useless junket came to mind. Let face it, at the end of November, which has to be one of two grumpy months in the northern hemisphere, the other being February. You know that all those meetings will have members thinking about the beach and the cabana huts, plus the multi-coloured drinks will be on everybody's minds.

You know I'm going to be watching things close when they start.

But for some reason I've got a bit more hope for this one then last year. Part of it may be due to the lowering of expectations. Who knows, more may be accomplished around the bars that are part of the swimming pools then in meeting halls.

What may bring about hope is what happened in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan last month. That is when the Convention on Biological Diversity took place and it seems something actually good happened.

First of all, there was actually an agreement. This is something for an international convention, a decision which seems positive. It is so impressive that the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Secretary-General welcomes the adoption of an historic new protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Saturday morning, 30 October, in Nagoya, Japan, which sets ground rules for improving access to, and the equitable sharing of, the world's genetic resources. The new treaty, he said, provides an innovative approach to conserving and protecting the world’s rapidly diminishing living resources, while providing benefits to all, in particular, local communities in developing countries.

The Secretary-General said the landmark treaty was a positive step in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and demonstrated that countries were committed to pragmatic cooperation in meeting the challenges of sustainable development. He also welcomed the adoption of a new 10-year plan by the 193 countries of the Convention that contains achievable targets to reduce the loss of biodiversity. He also thanked the Government of Japan for hosting a successful conference.

Biodiversity is very important, we live in an interconnect planet. For so many years we've gone to the mono culture, from our front lawns to huge farms that have the same plant or grain or trees. A few years ago there was a concern if one disease hit the rubber plants and rubber plantations, our modern lifestyle would be radically changed, and not for the better.

Some of the decisions:
Among the targets, it is important to note that Parties:
- Agreed to at least halve and where feasible bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests;
- Established a target of 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas;
- Through conservation and restoration, Governments will restore at least 15 percent of degraded areas; and
- Will make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs.

The Guardian had some positive articles regarding the conference. As I have said, one of the great newspapers that cover environmental issues and such conferences is The Guardian. I will be reading them closely when COP16 starts.

Of course, not everyone agrees, one commentator, George Monbiot had a totally different view on the conference. He wrote that we have been conned. One of his concerns was the lack of any "big names", with the exception of about five nations, most couldn't be bothered to send the head of states or head of governments. I would agree that this could be a bad things, but then again, perhaps we had the people who did all the work showed up and did what was needed. After all, all those big names showed up at Copenhagen and they all brought their entourages and egos and nothing happened.

While Mr. Monbiot brings some good points, perhaps we need to consider, there is an agreement and that is the start of all things. Let's hope.

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