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Conference on world's ecosystem opens in Nairobi.

NAIROBI, May 15 Kyodo

An intergovernmental meeting on biological diversity and conservation opened in Nairobi on Monday to explore a comprehensive strategy for biological resources, officials said.

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity brings together some 1,500 government officials and observers, who will examine

threats facing the world's ecosystem and identify solutions to be implemented at the international, national and grassroots levels.

The conference running from Monday to May 26 at the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) headquarters, comes barely a month after the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Life and Flora (CITES) which saw the suspension of the ivory trade for another two years.

Officials said the issues surrounding biodiversity would be more abstract and complex, than, for example, the CITES discussions on the ivory trade.

Scientists define biodiversity as "the variability among living organisms from all sources, mainly terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part."

The Convention on Biological Diversity is a project aimed at reversing the tide of devastation that humanity has wrought upon the natural world. Experts say that although some 40% of the world's economy is derived from biological diversity, humanity is pushing species to extinction faster than at any other time since the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.

"We must convince and empower people to make conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity their guiding principle," said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP.

"Whether it is making tourism environmentally sustainable, developing new strategies for reviving the world's highly stressed dry lands, or creating a legal regime on access to genetic resources that protects the interests of both local communities and commercial firms, we need to resolve the tough issues without delay," Toepfer said.

Hamdallah Zedan, executive secretary of the biodiversity convention, said, "The convention encourages the use of social, cultural and economic incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources."

Although the total number of species remains unknown, estimates suggest that there are at least 14 million and possibly as many as 100 million species, of which about 1.7 million have been identified.
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Comment:Conference on world's ecosystem opens in Nairobi.
Publication:Japan Science Scan
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 22, 2000
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