Vol 5 N° 3 [July–September 2007]



p 2 - Watchdogs of the public interest

p 8 - A new science policy for Ethiopia
p 8 - Manual alerts children to plight of dolphins
p 9 - Biosphere Connections takes to the sky
p 10 - International rock stars meet to map the world
p 10 - Photo contest
p 11 - A virtual campus for teacher training in Egypt
p 11 - Systematic measures needed to end poaching in DRC
p 12 - A first geopark for Southeast Asia
p 12 - UNESCO pays tribute to Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

p 13 - Andrew Dobson explains why a warmer world will be a sicker world

p 16 - A blue goldmine in need of protection
p 20 - The heat is on for Australia's forests

p 24 - Diary
p 24 - New releases
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De-carbonizing development

The inconvenient truth about the impact of climate change is sinking into the public consciousness. As Andrew Dobson argues in this issue, a warmer world will be a sicker world, as vectors of disease extend their geographical ranges. If rising temperatures will be a boon for pathogens, they will wreak havoc among harmless and useful plant and animal species: even a rise of 1oC in Australia – a very plausible scenario – will drive the Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvus) of the Blue Mountains to extinction, as a case study in this issue reveals.

With the growing awareness of the threats posed to biodiversity by climate change has come the realization that it will be a daunting task to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, the target fixed by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in April 2002. UNESCO will be hosting the twelfth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention from 2 to 6 July in Paris, which will assess the global community’s progress thus far in attaining this target. Early indications are that biodiversity loss is actually accelerating.

But is all climate change-related news bad? Maybe not. On World Environment Day on 5 June, UNDP and the banking and insurance giant Fortis announced, just days before the G8 Summit in Germany, a ‘carbon finance’ partnership. Under this scheme, UNDP will help developing countries to conceive projects that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while generating real, sustainable benefits for the environment and broader human development; UNDP will ensure that these projects meet the Kyoto Protocol’s agreed standards. Fortis will then trade in the emissions-reduction credits generated by these UNDP projects. The proceeds from Fortis’ trading in emission credits are expected to flow back to developing countries and communities to finance much-needed investment in sustainable development. Can partnerships like that forged by UNDP and Fortis turn back the clock? Most unlikely.

Can they help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change? Most likely. The climate change threat is creating hitherto unimaginable opportunities for cooperation between environmental and financial stakeholders. Current trends in cooperation are opening up new ways of bundling finance for carbon sequestration, human development and sustainable biodiversity use that can be mutually beneficial. UNESCO’s 507 biosphere reserves in 102 countries can be learning laboratories for innovative partnerships like these. Just last May for instance, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme signed an agreement with the Star Alliance, a consortium of 20 airline companies, to bring UNESCO projects for biosphere reserves combining global determination to mitigate and adapt to climate change with the need to reduce biodiversity loss and promote sustainability to the attention of the many potential partners who are also frequent flyers.

W. Erdelen
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences

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