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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 23:25 GMT
Climate focus 'ignores wildlife'
Moabi tree (Image: John Nelson/Forest Peoples Programme)
Communities need fair access to land and resources, the authors say
Many efforts to curb climate change have paid little attention to conservation or helping the world's poor, a think tank has warned.

A paper by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said bad policy threatened biodiversity and made poor nations more vulnerable.

The authors called for projects tackling global problems to work more closely together in the future.

The report coincides with the start of a UN biodiversity meeting in Rome.

"Pro-poor, biodiversity friendly ways to adapt and mitigate climate change are clearly the way forward," said co-author Krystyna Swiderska.

"But for them to work, local communities must be involved in decisions about how biodiversity is used. Good governance and fair access to land and resources must be at the heart of these efforts."

She warned that "bad polices" could accelerate biodiversity loss and increase the vulnerability of the world's poorest communities.

Balancing act

Ms Swiderska and co-author Hannah Reid wrote that poor communities heavily depended upon biodiversity for food, medicine and sustaining livelihoods.

Policymakers have focused on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions but biodiversity is also key
Krystyna Swiderska,
IIED senior researcher
Protecting diversity would give these communities more options to adapt to a warming world, they added.

While global agreements - such as the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Millennium Development Goals - acknowledged the impact of climate change on biodiversity and poor nations, the authors said there were no shared or common goals to ensure the strategies did not conflict.

"Policymakers have focused on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions but biodiversity is also key," observed Ms Swiderska.

"For centuries, traditional farmers have used the diversity within both domesticated and wild species to adapt to changing conditions."

She said that greater recognition of local knowledge could help deliver results on a global scale.

"Many communities are already using agricultural -biodiversity and traditional practices, such as seed exchange and field experimentation, to adapt to climate change.

"Farmer/researcher collaboration can bring added value that each alone could never realise."

The publication of the IIED's paper comes as the CBD holds a government-level meeting in Rome, ahead of the organisation's annual high-level gathering in May.

The CBD, formed in 1992, has three main goals:

  • the conservation of biodiversity
  • sustainable use of the components of biodiversity
  • sharing the benefits of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way

The convention is the key international policy tool to deliver the commitment of significantly reducing the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

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