Conference on Biodiversity and Society open to interested parties

21 May 2001 Tomorrow marks the start of an open international four-day Conference in New York (USA) on the theme of human security and conservation of biodiversity.

One of the most important challenges facing society today is that of adopting an integrated approach to human security and biodiversity conservation. Failure to meet this challenge will lead to instability and conflicts with grave, far-reaching consequences.

To address this challenge, UNESCO and Columbia University are jointly organizing the International Conference on Biodiversity and Society from 21 to 25 May.

The Conference is unique in many ways. It is based on the recognition that, as long as people lack personal and environmental security, long-term solutions to environmental problems will remain a pipe-dream. As stated in paragraph 33 of the Declaration, ‘The objective should be a move towards sustainable development strategies through the integration of economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions’.

The Conference will build on pilot projects being conducted in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and similar sites selected for their high biological diversity and social, economic and cultural importance. These projects will form the core of discussion, leading to the identification and development of viable strategies for the long-term stewardship of the Earth.

The Conference will articulate a common vision for an integrated approach to human security and biodiversity conservation. The insights gained will help set the tone for such vital political discussions as those planned for Rio+10 and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Conference provides a rare opportunity for scientists and other scholars concerned with global issues to meet with the policy-makers who must confront the realities of balancing environmental conservation with economic development.

The Conference brings together leading environmental and social scientists, managers of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, high-level policy-makers from developed and developing countries, journalists, leading institutions including private corporations, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and international lending institutions.

Far from being a closed shop, the Conference is open to interested parties. The organizers have the following message, ‘If you would like to contribute to the debate and learn more how changes, conflicts, and governance affect people and biodiversity in developed and developing countries alike, please join us for an exciting week of good science, oriented toward solutions for real people in real places’.

For further information, contact the Conference Co-ordinator: Christine Alfsen-Norodom ca320@columbia.edu;

or go to http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/events/events/biodiversity.html