The planet at the bedside of biodiversity in crisis

More than 750 experts from around the world gather for a week in Colombia to assess the "crisis" of biodiversity facing the Earth and advocate for solutions against the massive extinction of species, the first since the disappearance of dinosaurs

"Protecting biodiversity is as important as fighting climate change," said President Juan Emmanuel Santos, opening the sixth plenary session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 19659002] This forum brings together scientists and decision-makers from 116 of the 128 member states of IPBES until March 26 in Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, the most bio-diverse country on the planet after Brazil.

" What happens to one happens to all, and if we are aware of it, we can be more responsible for protecting the environment and preserving peace. " Mr Santos, whose country is slowly emerging from more than half a century of armed conflict, is one of the world's biggest

"Today, the world is at a crossroads," said Sir Robert Watson, President of the United Nations. IPBES, lamenting that "the historical and current degradation and destruction of nature sabotages human well-being for the present and countless future generations."

According to IPBES, the Earth is facing a "massive extinction" of species, the first since the disappearance of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, the sixth in 500 million years.

– Five reports, three years of work –

In Medellin, experts will assess the damage on the fauna, flora and soils of the Earth. Then will be revealed the outline of five bulky reports, as well as solutions to minimize the impact of human activities on the environment.

"By degrading biodiversity, we also reduce people's food, the clean water that we must drink and the forests that are our lungs, "warned the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Erik Solheim, in a message relayed from Brasilia, where he participated in the World Water Forum.

To take stock of its situation, IPBES has divided the planet into four regions: Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe-Central Asia. Each has been the subject of a thorough analysis and a report of 600 to 900 pages, which experts will study behind closed doors. Then the diagnosis will be made next Friday.

A second report will be extracted Monday, March 26 from a fifth report, the first of its kind on the state of the world's soils, more and more degraded by pollution, deforestation, Mining and unsustainable agricultural practices that impoverish them

"An immensely ambitious challenge awaits us this week," said Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of IPBES.

For three years, some 600 Researchers have volunteered on these assessments, which synthesize data from about 10,000 scientific publications. The final result covers the entire Earth, apart from the international waters of the oceans and the Antarctic.

The IPBES delegates are in a country with more than 56,300 species of plants and animals.

Colombia, number 1 for the number of orchid species and birds (more than 1,920, 19% of the world), is crossed by three Andean Cordilleras, a complex topography that allowed the evolution of 311 different ecosystems.

– The challenge of deforestation –

The war, which claimed more than eight million lives between the dead, missing and internally displaced, has long converted into banned areas of huge areas of the country. thus paradoxically preserved.

But 1,200 species are threatened by deforestation and pollution, due in particular to extensive agriculture and livestock farming, illegal plantations of marijuana and coca, a raw material for cocaine, which has used to finance the conflict, and underground mining operations.

"We are still facing a huge challenge related to the control of deforestation", admitted in February the Colombian Minister of Environment and Development Luis Gilberto Murillo, reporting about 170,000 ha deforested in 2017.

The experts will also prepare summaries of about thirty pages, addressed to the leaders of the member countries of IPBES, in order to guide them in protecting biodiversity. The content will be negotiated "word by word."

Moving from transportation to education, through agriculture, these "summaries" are not binding. These are "suggestions," Larigauderie told AFP before the forum.

"Some countries may not be satisfied with what the report says about the state of their biodiversity," he said. warned

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, by 2080, climate change could threaten between a quarter and half of the world's 33 richest biodiversity species.

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