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Japan

UN seals historic treaty to protect biodiversity

Japan's Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto (C) holds the gavel, as Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf (R) claps
Japan's Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto (C) holds the gavel, as Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf (R) claps Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

A global treaty to protect the world's forests, coral reefs and other threatened ecosystems within ten years was signed at a United Nations summit on Saturday in Japan.

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With a typhoon looming outside the conference hall in the city of Nagoya, the environment ministers from 193 countries committed to key goals by 2020 after two weeks of talks.

The measures to achieve the goals include curbing pollution, protecting forests and coral reefs, setting aside areas of land and water for conservation, and sustainable management of fisheries.

One of the most significant parts of the accord is a commitment to protect 17 percent of land and 10 percent of oceans so that biodiversity there could thrive.

At the moment only 13 per cent of land and one per cent of oceans are protected.

Under the Aichi targets, fish and other aquatic life is to be given greater refuge, despite concerns that the targets are inadequately funded and insufficiently ambitious.

Some delegates said however the targets were lowered on the insistence of China and some other developing countries.

The United States is not signing up as it is one of the few countries not to have ratified the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity.

The accord was clinched after a last-minute breakthrough on an 18-year stand-off over sharing the benefits and knowledge of genetic resource riches.

Brazil, home to much of the Amazon basin and its rich resources, had insisted throughout the summit that the 20-point strategic plan must include a deal on genetic riches.

The European Union led developed nations in finally agreeing to the so-called Access and Benefits Sharing Protocol to ensure success on the 20-point strategic plan.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature nearly a quarter of mammals, one-third of amphibians and more than a fifth of plant species are under threat of extinction.

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