Geneva /Nairobi, 9 May 2003 - Ministers and senior officials from 55 countries will meet in Kiev from 21-23 May for the 5th Pan-European Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe", the region's highest-level environmental forum.
Key items on the agenda include protecting the largest remaining wilderness in Europe (outside of Russia) by adopting the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians.
Another highlight will be a decision to formally adopt the goal of halting the degradation of the region's biological and landscape diversity by the year 2010, together with nine specific measurable targets for ensuring that this overall goal is achieved.
"By setting clear targets that can be tracked and evaluated over the next several years, European leaders will demonstrate their commitment to achieving an environmental renaissance in this complex and dynamic region," said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
UNEP, together with the Council of Europe, services the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy through which governments and civil society organizations developed the proposed goal and targets. The PEBLDS promotes the regional implementation of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was negotiated under UNEP auspices.
The proposed new Europe-wide targets for stabilizing biodiversity by 2010 would require:
· taking effective actions by the year 2008 to prevent human activities from damaging forests;
· finalizing an inventory of all high-value natural areas in agriculture ecosystems by 2006 and ensuring that a substantial proportion of these areas are under biodiversity-sensitive management by 2008;
· integrating biodiversity concerns into all financial subsidy and incentive schemes for agriculture in Europe by 2008;
· ensuring the early development of a Pan European Ecological Network by identifying and mapping all core areas of high ecological value, as well as restoration areas, wildlife corridors and buffer zones, by 2006, and then adequately conserving all core areas by 2008;
· implementing an agreed strategy on alien invasive species in at least half of the region's countries by 2008; and
· increasing substantially public and private financial investments in biodiversity via partnerships with the finance and business sectors, establishing a coherent European programme on biodiversity monitoring and indicators, and implementing national communication, education and public awareness plans in at least half the region's countries, all by 2008.
Sir Brian Unwin, President of the European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC) and Honorary President of the European Investment bank, said, "I strongly welcome the clear biodiversity targets that leaders in Government and the economic sectors will discuss in Kiev. Europe now has a chance to demonstrate that it really means business in putting biodiversity, nature and landscape high on the political and economic agenda. But realization of this objective will require a much closer and contributory partnership between governments and NGOs and the business and banking sectors."
The goal being considered by the Ministers would represent a stronger commitment than last year's global agreement at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to reduce significantly the current rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010.
The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS) engages all European member countries of the Environment for Europe process, serviced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, stretching across the continent from Iceland to Kyrgyzstan.
The European biodiversity targets are expected to be adopted on World Biodiversity Day (22 May), which was established by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the goals of the CBD.
Note to journalists:
For information on accreditation, please see www.kyiv-2003.info. For information on biodiversity issues on the Kiev agenda, please contact Mr. Eric Falt, UNEP Spokesman/Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: +254-20-623292, Mobile: +254-733-682656, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr. Michael Williams, Chief, Information Unit on Conventions, UNEP Regional Office for Europe on Tel: +41-22-917-8242, Mobile: +41-79-409-1528, E-mail: email@example.com or Ms. Agnes Bruszik, European Centre for Nature Conservation, Central and Eastern European Regional Unit on Tel: +36-1-355-3699, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A press conference on the adoption and signature of the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians will take place on Thursday, 22 May at 13:20 at the Press Center of the Kyiv Conference, with the participation of HE Minister Shevchuk, Ukraine, Prof. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director- UNEP, Claude Martin - WWF International, and HE Minister Matteoli, Italy.
A press briefing on financing the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Europe will take place on Thursday, 22 May at 15:40 at the UNEP/ECNC/IUCN joint biodiversity stand at the Conference's exhibition area directly after the Ministerial debate on biodiversity. Sir Brian Unwin, President of ECNC and Honorary President of the European Investment Bank, will chair the press briefing and high-level representatives of a number of governments and international finance institutions will provide information on their activities and plans in the field of banking and biodiversity, which is of major importance for halting the decline of Europe's biodiversity by 2010.
UNEP Information Note 2003/06