Day Ten

21 May 2010 | News story

I’ve been dreaming that I’m in plenary at night. A bit of a shame really, as I would rather be dreaming about the graceful masai giraffe’s in Nairobi National Park or the baby hyrax hopping around the grounds of the IUCN regional office. Oh well, writes Josephine Langley, Network Coordinator from IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group.

Beautiful day, cool in the shade with a clear blue sky. The air smells so fresh after all the recent rain and the vegetation is lush- none of the dust usually associated with Nairobi. The United Nations compound welcomes you in with its well maintained grounds. The meeting rooms are another matter - they take you into another dimension - any large conference facility anywhere in the world. All of a sudden we enter limbo.

Today started in working group 2 discussing biodiversity targets and indicators that are supposed to guide 193 countries, NGOs, and everyone else to some better version of the planet for life on earth by 2020. A little summary informed us that we had spent 6.5 hours discussing the 20 targets, their indicators and technical and scientific rationale this week during the 3 previous ‘informal ad hoc open ended’ groups, 2 of which finished after 9:30 the previous nights. We were also reminded that we had not ‘negotiated’ the text but were providing a menu of options for next weeks’ political discussion.

Highlights of the week from the official agenda included an enlightening and highly scientific and technical debate on the difference between everyone, everybody, all users of biodiversity and the general public. An interesting philosophical and bio-geophysical challenge emerged in the idea including users of biodiversity, as if someone could avoid being a user of biodiversity. Who isn’t breathing oxygen, drinking water, eating or calmed and inspired by the living things around us?

Biodiversity underpins ecosystem services - everyone breathes (99.9% of oxygen in the atmosphere comes from plants- a supporting ecosystem service), our bodies are 70% water (plants are pretty key in water cycle- a regulating ecosystem service), not to mention food and drink ( provisioning ecosystem services) and the papers we are all reading.

Personally, I think Japan wins on conveying the concept of cultural ecosystem services though. The logo for the Convention on Biological Diversity 10th Conference of the Parties to be held in Nagoya, Japan in October this year, is a ‘cartoon’ set of origami animals. Over the lunch break, the IUCN National Committee for Japan had a workshop teaching us how to create wildlife by folding paper. An interesting alternative to how we have been using paper during this meeting! Surrounded by purple elephants and blue frogs I felt a weight of despondency lift. I settled down with ladies dressed in kimonos to try to fold a camel. What a wonderful example of cultural ecosystem services. Now - this is a fun way to communicate the diversity of life on earth. An element the new Strategic Plan should definitely not omit!