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Issue: July2010
HOPE FOR ECOSYSTEMS

By Victor Anderson

One of my main reasons for liking Movement Medicine is that it highlights the ecological crisis we are living in the middle of, honouring the web of life and our connectedness with past and future.  As many other people are attracted to it for the same reason, I’m hoping it will be of interest to you to read about what is going on with the ecology crisis on the levels of governments, business, and science.

Over the past five years or so, climate change has moved up the political agenda – a good thing, but it brings the danger that it can lead us to forget about the world’s other ecological problems.  Two international treaties were signed in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest-ever gathering of world leaders discussing environment and development problems.  One was on climate change, and the other was on biological diversity, species extinction, ecosystems.

Both treaties included provision for follow-up meetings (“Conferences of the Parties”, or “CoPs”).  The most recent Climate Change CoP was held last December, in Copenhagen.  The next Biological Diversity CoP is this October, in Nagoya, Japan, October 18th to 29th.  I would like to see this become a focus for our hopes and prayers/etc for the future of the world.

Although conflicts of economic interest made Copenhagen a failure, there are a few factors which could make Nagoya turn out positively.  First, the European Union was annoyed by what happened at Copenhagen, despite the best efforts of the EU to provide leadership for the process.  Taking the initiative for Nagoya, as the EU is now trying to do, is seen as a way of reaffirming an important role for Europe in the world.

Second, the scientific community is stirring, and has successfully pressed for the setting up of an equivalent to the hugely influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Currently this is being called Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, but maybe someone will come up with a catchier title in time for the October conference.

Thirdly, sections of business are taking an interest.  If you sell tinned fish, you might be getting worried about depletion of fish stocks.  If you grow anything at all, you might get worried about soil quality and water supply.  A business bandwagon is starting to roll – one sign of which is the ‘Business of Biodiversity’ event at London’s ExCel Centre on July 13th.

A combination of business concern and scientific evidence is feeding into an important programme of work highlighting the economic aspects of ecosystem destruction – ‘TEEB’, which stands for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.  This is timed to produce its final report ready for October.  It aims to do for biodiversity what the Stern Report on the economics of climate change did for climate – i.e. get economists to take it seriously at last!

Most of the world’s ecosystems are deteriorating, and there are powerful forces pushing our planet further in this same direction.  However, as I’ve outlined here, there are some moves now within government, business, science, and economics, which might just provide some new sources of hope.

 

Victor Anderson.

Victor works as an economist for WWF (formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund):

vanderson@wwf.org.uk

 

 

 

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www. schoolofmovementmedicine.com