Remarks by Jacqueline Alder, Coordinator of the Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Branch, United Nations Environment Programme at a CBD SBSTTA - 14 Side Event
Alien Invasive Species: Helping Islands Adapt
Nairobi, 18 May 2010
Delegates and colleagues,
Thank you for inviting me to part of your side event, an important follow-up and report back from the previous workshop, relating to invasive species and island biodiversity, held in April in New Zealand.
Workshops and side events like these are crucial to highlight successes, deepen connections within regions and facilitate exchange of experiences, showcasing how victories can be major gains for conservation and development.
From case studies and success stories, we need to accelerate and expand national, regional and international action on invasives and drive effective management from local to regional and global levels.
We are beginning to grasp the true cost of invasive species and their devastating effect on biodiversity, livelihoods, development and trade. Invasive species are of course, part of overall biodiversity loss and their presence is contributing to a worrying ongoing trend - bringing us closer to a number of potential tipping points - all of which would vastly reduce the capacity of ecosystems to provide essential services.
In a recent BBC article, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner warned that "Far too many governments have failed to grasp the scale of the threat from invasive species." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8615398.stm)
Perhaps this should be our starting point. On a global scale, Alien invasives are thought to be harming the global economy to the tune of $1.4 trillion (£913bn) a year, if not far more.
So as we count the economic cost... the human cost for the farmers, fishers, pastoralists is perhaps incalculable as food supplies dwindle, crops are ruined, days are spent removing swathes of hyacinth from clogged waterways in Africa, soils are poisoned and new infections proliferate.
Overall losses to invasives may amount to more than $12bn in respect to Africa's eight principle crops.