From: Subject: =?Windows-1252?Q?UN-backed_ecological_report_warns_of_potential_new_disea?= =?Windows-1252?Q?ses_and_=91dead_zones=92?= Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2005 23:39:33 +0100 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/related; type="text/html"; boundary="----=_NextPart_000_000F_01C5364A.E4113560" X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.2180 This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------=_NextPart_000_000F_01C5364A.E4113560 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Location: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=13803&Cr=ecosystem&Cr1= UN-backed ecological report warns of potential new = diseases and =91dead zones=92
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UN-backed ecological report warns of potential new = diseases and=20 =91dead zones=92

Ecosystems = crucial for=20 economic, social, & spiritual=20 stability
30 = March 2005=20 =96 The emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in = water=20 quality, creation of coastal =93dead zones,=94 the collapse of = fisheries and=20 shifts in regional climate are just some of the potential = consequences of=20 humankind=92s degradation of the planet=92s ecosystems, according = to a new=20 United Nations-backed report launched today.=20

Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in = the last=20 50 years than in any other period; some 60 per cent of ecosystem = elements=20 supporting life on Earth, such as fresh water, clean air or a = relatively=20 stable climate, are being degraded or used unsustainably; and the=20 situation could become significantly worse during the first half = of this=20 century, according to the study.=20

=93Only by valuing all our precious natural and human resources = can we=20 hope to build a sustainable future,=94 Secretary General Kofi = Annan said in=20 a message=20 launching the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis = Report=20 compiled by 1,300 scientists in 95 countries. =93The Millennium = Ecosystem=20 Assessment is an unprecedented contribution to our global mission = for=20 development, sustainability and peace.=94=20

The four-year assessment was designed by a partnership of UN = agencies,=20 international scientific organizations and development agencies, = with=20 private sector and civil society input, in response to Mr. = Annan=92s call=20 for global support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), = which seek=20 to slash a host of socio-economic ills such as extreme poverty and = hunger=20 by 2015.=20

=93The overriding conclusion of this assessment is that it lies = within=20 the power of human societies to ease the strains we are putting on = the=20 nature services of the planet, while continuing to use them to = bring=20 better living standards to all,=94 the MA board of directors said = in a=20 statement, =93Living beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human = Well-being.=94=20

=93Achieving this, however, will require radical changes in the = way=20 nature is treated at every level of decision-making and new ways = of=20 cooperation between government, business and civil society. The = warning=20 signs are there for all of us to see. The future now lies in our = hands.=94=20

Although evidence remains incomplete, the report finds enough = to warn=20 that ongoing degradation of 15 of the 24 ecosystem services = examined =96=20 including fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water = regulation, and=20 regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests =96 = increases the=20 likelihood of potentially abrupt changes that will seriously = affect human=20 well-being.=20

Its findings include:=20

  • More land has been converted to agriculture since 1945 than = in the=20 18th and 19th centuries combined. More than half of all the = synthetic=20 nitrogen fertilizers, first made in 1913, ever used on the = planet have=20 been used since 1985, resulting in a substantial and largely=20 irreversible loss in diversity, with some 10 to 30 per cent of = the=20 mammal, bird and amphibian species currently threatened with = extinction.=20

  • Ecosystem degradation is a barrier to achieving the MDGs. In = all the=20 four plausible futures explored, scientists project progress in=20 eliminating hunger, but at far slower rates than needed to halve = the=20 scourge by 2015. Changes in ecosystems such as deforestation = influence=20 the abundance of human pathogens such as malaria and cholera, as = well as=20 the risk of emergence of new diseases. Malaria, for example, = accounts=20 for 11 per cent of the disease burden in Africa and had it been=20 eliminated 35 years ago, the continent=92s gross domestic = product would=20 have increased by $100 billion.=20

  • The world=92s poorest people suffer most from ecosystem = changes. The=20 regions facing significant problems of degradation =96 = sub-Saharan Africa,=20 Central Asia, some regions in Latin America, and parts of South = and=20 Southeast Asia =96 also face the greatest challenges in = achieving the=20 MDGs, such as halving extreme poverty by 2015. In sub-Saharan = Africa the=20 number of poor is forecast to rise to 404 million in a decade = from 315=20 million in 1999.

The report was launched simultaneously at several UN = headquarters=20 around the world. =93The challenge of ensuring the future of our = environment=20 is pressing and concerns us all, whether we work in education, = science,=20 culture or communication,=94 UN Educational, Scientific and = Cultural=20 Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Ko=EFchiro Matsuura said in = a message=20 in Paris.=20

=93The work of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment makes clear = how=20 ecosystems and human health are intertwined and further highlights = how=20 important it is that decisions related to economic development = also=20 protect the environment, in order to ultimately safeguard human = health,=94=20 said Kerstin Leitner, Assistant Director-General for Sustainable=20 Development and Healthy Environments of the Geneva-based World = Health=20 Organization (WHO).=20

=93The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment gives us, in some ways = for the=20 first time, an insight into the economic importance of ecosystem = services=20 and some new and additional arguments for respecting and = conserving the=20 Earth=92s life support systems,=94 declared Klaus Toepfer, = Executive Director=20 of the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (UNEP).=20

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Delegates=20 at UN meeting pledge green-friendly approach to=20 development in Asia and the Pacific - 29 March

Ministers=20 at UN-backed Asia-Pacific meeting seek = =91green-friendly=92=20 development -=20 28 March

African=20 nations can better fight invasive forest pests = thanks to=20 UN-backed web site -=20 24 March

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