Portuguese Parliamentarians together for biodiversity

25 May 2010 | News story

For the first time the Portuguese Parliament hosted a conference dedicated to biodiversity. The event brought together Parliamentarians, NGOs and scientists to share information on the challenges biodiversity is facing and to discuss the next steps for conservation.

“Working with Parliamentarians is crucial to achieve IUCN’s mission to conserve biodiversity. Adequate legislation on biodiversity is necessary to ensure our future. This conference is a step in the right direction - enhancing cooperation with the Portuguese government who is a State Member of IUCN” Hans Friederich, IUCN Regional Director (a.i.) for Pan-Europe stated.

Led by the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Territorial Planning and Local Government, the two-day international conference involved nearly 20 Parliamentarians, including the Speaker of the House, the Minister and State Secretary for Environment and the Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.

“This conference is very important for Portugal, as the challenges for our natural environment are key issues that need to be addressed by law makers, managers and scientists alike. Experts from Portugal and other European countries have provided the Parliament with valuable information to debate our future strategy for biodiversity” said Julio Miranda Calha, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Territorial Planning and Local Government.

Political leaders were joined by an impressive cast of speakers from a variety of Portuguese scientific institutions who presented facts and figures about the state of biodiversity in Portugal, as well as international representatives from IUCN, the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, and Spanish Fundacion Biodiversidad.

Humberto Rosa, Secretary of State for Environment of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning stressed the need to get biodiversity recognized as a key issue and said: “We need to develop a market for biodiversity if we want to get the public to understand its real economic value. The intrinsic value of nature is also very important, but it does not help us in convincing lawmakers and the public that losing nature and biodiversity means a real loss for humans”.

IUCN will continue to work with the Government of Portugal to help develop legislation for biodiversity and respond to the challenges which may raise from the discussions at the UN General Assembly High Segment on Biodiversity in September and the subsequent 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan in October this year.