Biodiversity means something different to each one of us, but we all depend on it for just about every aspect of our lives, from the variety of food we eat to the feel of the clothes we wear. Human development has so far occurred without proper consideration for the balances of the natural world. But our understanding has grown immeasurably in the last two decades. It is now time to turn thoughts and words into sustainable progress.

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Interview - Enrique Lahmann

¿Cuáles son las principales amenazas para la biodiversidad actualmente?

¿Cuán amenaza se encuentra la biodiversidad por el comercio de especies?

¿Representan un peligro para la biodiversidad los organismos genéticamente modificados?

¿Puede explicarnos el factor económico de la biodiversidad?

¿Cree usted que podremos cambiar las cosas en los próximos diez años?

Full interview [PDF] ¦ Entretien complet [PDF]

Interview - Jeff McNeely

What is the main issue to address right away in our effort to conserve biodiversity?

Do we need to control the human population to help conserve biodiversity?

What role does the private sector have to play in conserving biodiversity?

Are people in power too out of touch with nature to make the right decisions in time?

Will it be too late by the time we get a handle on biodiversity loss?

Entretien complet [PDF] ¦ Entrevista completa [PDF]

Interview - Jean-Christophe Vié

Comment réagir contre la surconsommation qui pèse tant sur la biodiversité?

A quel point les organismes génétiquement modifiés sont ils une menace pour la biodiversité?

Que pouvons-nous apprendre des peuples indigènes et de leurs méthodes de conservation?

Lieriez-vous la perte de biodiversité à la crise alimentaire?

Dans 500 ans, comment l’histoire jugera-t-elle notre comportement vis-à-vis la biodiversité?

Full interview [PDF] ¦ Entrevista completa [PDF]

Jean-Christophe Vié
Enrique Lahmann
Jeff McNeely

Conserving biodiversity is nothing short of conserving ourselves. Everything we have today we owe to the diversity of life on earth and the resources it has provided to make progress possible - starting with the very food we eat.

“It is possible to trace the influence of wild species on the improvement of our diet throughout history,” says Enrique Lahmann, the World Conservation Congress Manager for IUCN. “In certain cases when commercial crops, such as bananas, grapes or rice, were badly hit by pests or disease, we were forced to go back to original crops to find solutions.” Biodiversity will continue to ensure the survival of our species, but only to the extent we allow it to.

Climate change is rapidly eroding ecosystems around the world; habitat destruction, whether through deforestation, pollution, over-exploitation, war or mismanagement, is pushing numerous species toward the brink of extinction; international trade in flora and fauna is endangering a host of others; and the introduction of invasive alien species is threatening much of what remains.

According to Jeff McNeely, Chief Scientist for the IUCN, these factors are often simply considered externalities of global trade and development. “People need to be far more aware of these ‘externalities’,” he gravely points out, “and they need to understand the full cost of global trade.”

At a time when new industrial giants like China and India are coming to the fore, we also need to understand that a significant part of their demand for resources – oil, lumber, mined metals, food – is driven by our own consumption, which they satisfy with cheap goods.
“All this stuff takes up resources, costs energy and inevitably weighs on biodiversity,” says McNeely.

Everyone knows this cannot go on forever, and some big names in the private sector have begun taking the conservation of biodiversity seriously. Nestlé, Unilever and McDonald’s, for example, have approached the IUCN to create an Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture. Big oil concessions are increasingly exploited according to thorough bio-conservation plans.

And yet these remain half-measures, according to Jean-Christophe Vie, Deputy Head of the Species Programme at IUCN.

“Cooperation with the private sector has improved, though as far as I’m concerned we’re still barely off the ground. We have to do far more, making sure that companies become much more implicated than they are now.”

With consumers increasingly concerned about mitigating their environmental impact this will become easier. A window of opportunity is opening for establishing productive partnerships with the private sector. Conservation organizations like the IUCN must encourage and facilitate this process by harping on a point all business types can relate to: the win win.

“In any case at one point everything is going to grind to a halt,” Vie states bluntly. “I think it’s preferable to make sure we stay in a position of being able to choose our own destinies, rather than be confronted with a reality that will be catastrophic for everyone. This is our chance. We have to change now.”

  • Choose facts.