I am delighted to introduce the 'Global Biodiversity Outlook', the first in a series of periodic reports on biodiversity to be produced under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Biological diversity underpins life on our blue planet; without it humanity could not survive. The triple objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity - to conserve biodiversity, to use the components of biodiversity in a sustainable way, and the share the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way - represent key challenges for our times. It is the most complex and wide-ranging environmental treaty in existence.
Governments of all countries need to take urgent action to implement the provisions of the Convention, for the only way global environmental problems can be addressed is through collective action on the part of the global community. This means not just Governments, but all the sectors of society that are stakeholders in biodiversity - and this therefore means everyone, since we are all, collectively and individually, stakeholders.
The encouraging news is that 180 countries and one regional economic integration organization have committed themselves to working together to implement the provisions of the agreement. The framework is in place and important steps have been taken. This report gives an overview of the status of biodiversity and what the Convention on Biological Diversity has achieved in the eight years it has been in force.
Despite these collective efforts however, the status of biodiversity globally continues to decline. Efforts to conserve and use it sustainably must be redoubled. Greater levels of scientific assessment are needed.
The resources needed by countries in order to implement the Convention must be made available - both at the national level, by Governments recognising the urgency of addressing biodiversity issues, and internationally, through technical and scientific cooperation, and the provision of financial resources and capacity development to those countries that need them.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in South Africa in 2002, is the opportunity for world leaders to renew their commitment to sustainable development. Implementing the objectives of the Convention over the coming decade will require policy coherence between all relevant instruments and processes, renewed political will on the part of Governments, and a renewed commitment to cooperation and to providing the resources and technology required.
I hope that the publication of the Global Biodiversity Outlook will help to focus the attention of the Summit on the key role the objectives of the Convention play in achieving sustainable development. I hope it will stimulate renewed political will and a renewed commitment to providing the necessary resources to address the global environmental problems of our times. It is a moment for vision and courage.
Klaus Töpfer Executive Director
United Nations Environment Programme