Press Releases July 2007 - International Initiative Gets Underway to Track Progress in Conserving Biodiversity - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
United Nations Environment Programme
environment for development Search 
News Centre
 Home News Centre
 Media Contacts
 Press Releases
 In Focus
 RSS / Podcasts

 Printable Version [Français]

International Initiative Gets Underway to Track Progress in Conserving Biodiversity

Jointly Issued by UNEP and the Global Environment Facility

2010 Biodiversity Indicator Partnership Launched in Support for the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity

Paris, 12 July 2007 - A multi-million dollar effort to track the fate and fortune of the world's biological diversity is being launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The 2010 Biodiversity Indicator Partnership aims to complete a set of indicators that will allow the international community to better assess whether conservation efforts are succeeding towards the target of 'reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010'.

"This new partnership helps ensure that the bar is raised around the globe for accounting for biodiversity loss," stated GEF CEO Monique Barbut. "It is more important than ever for the biodiversity community to elevate its discourse and to reinforce the relevance of biodiversity conservation to sustainable economic development in the 21st Century. The biodiversity challenge is no less urgent a public issue than the climate change crisis; this effort helps move biodiversity to the front burner to help ignite policy makers to take informed action."

Several indicators already exist which are giving an insight into how well the world is addressing the biodiversity challenge.

The Red List of Threatened Species, compiled by IUCN-the World Conservation Union-estimates that nearly one in four mammals, one in three amphibians, and one in eight birds is threatened with extinction.

The main driving force is human impact ranging from deforestation and pollution to over-exploitation for food and as part of the illegal wildlife trade. The Red List Indices have so far been completed for amphibians and birds. Global trends for other groups are expected in the near future.

Protected areas, considered an important strategy for conservation of plants and animals, also contribute to another of the biodiversity indicators while at the same time forming part of assessment of the success of the UN's Millennium Development Goals. The Goals, due to be met by 2015, cover poverty eradication up to the provision of safe and sufficient drinking water.

The indicator of Protected Areas shows that around 12 per cent of the Earth's land surface is currently covered by more than 105,000 protected areas. However, the area of sea and ocean under protection is relatively tiny: just 0.6 per cent of the ocean's surface area and 1.4 per cent of coastal shelf areas are protected.

This has major implications for the sustainability of marine resources including fish and shellfish and for the livelihoods of coastal communities that are reliant upon their continued supply.

Other existing indicators include forest cover and the generation of nitrogen from sources such as fossil fuel burning, industry and fertilizer which can impact on biodiversity and wildlife habitats.

Under the new $8.8 million partnership, which has secured over $3.6 million from the GEF, a wider range of existing and new indicators will be brought together to gain greater and deeper insight into whether the 2010 Biodiversity Target is on course.

Some of the new indicators, emerging from a list chosen by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), include threats to biodiversity; the degree to which forests, farmlands and fisheries are managed in a way that protects biodiversity; the extent to which people are affected by changes in biodiversity and the contribution of traditional knowledge to the biodiversity target.

There will also be a focus on the components of biodiversity including genes, species and ecosystems. Several of the new indicators will require a comprehensive gathering of data exercise including trends in the spread of invasive alien species and trends in the health and well being of communities dependent on the goods and services provided by local ecosystems.

The 2010 Biodiversity Target was set in 2002 by the Parties to the CBD - who now number 189 countries and the European Community. The Target, endorsed by leaders at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in 2002 and at the UN Summit held in 2005 attended by 150 Heads of State and Government, has now been included within the Millennium Development Goals.

Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the CBD said: "The launch of this project could not come at a better time. Last month, at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, the Heads of State and Government committed themselves to step up efforts for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in order to meet the Johannesburg target of a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. This project will be an important contribution to achieving that target and I want to thank most sincerely the GEF and UNEP and all partners for supporting this crucial work."

Notes to Editors

UNEP and the GEF will officially launch the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership project during the second meeting of the Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

It will take place on Thursday 12 July, from 13.15 to 14.45, in Salle II at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris.

The 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership was formed in October 2005, during a project development phase funded by the Global Environment Facility and the UK Government. This launch event marks the start of the full, GEF-funded project, the first phase of which will run from mid-2007 to mid-2010.

The Partnership is composed of more than forty Partners from around the world, including U.N. agencies (such as FAO, UNEP and UNESCO), scientific research institutions (such as the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre and the Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology), and non-governmental organisations (such as IUCN, BirdLife International, and WWF International).

The majority of the 2010BIP Partner organisations are involved in developing biodiversity indicators - that is, collecting and analysing data to show trends in aspects of biodiversity over time. Other Partners are involved in issues such as communications and outreach, and use of the indicators (e.g. by national governments, regional bodies, and other conservationists).

The 2010BIP is coordinated by a Secretariat based at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK. The role of the Secretariat is to bring together the work of all the Partner organisations to ensure coordinated implementation and delivery, and subsequently to ensure streamlined communication of Partners' outputs.

The 2010BIP project will deliver three major outcomes:

1. The existence of a 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership generating information useful to decision-makers.

2. The implementation and availability of improved global indicators.

3. National governments and regional organisations using and contributing to the improved delivery of global indicators.

For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, E-mail:

GEF contacts: Clare Fleming, Global Environment Facility (GEF), Tel: +1 202 4584679. Fax: +1 202 5223240. E-mail:

Note that to access UNESCO, press will require accreditation by the UNESCO Bureau of Public Information. To register, please contact




Further Resources

Global Environment Facility (GEF)


UNEP Resources on Biodiversity

IUCN Red List

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)


Follow Us

Keep up to date with UNEP events on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

Twitter Facebook You Tube

UNEP on Facebook