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Climate change key driver to biodiversity loss

by BuaNews Online
on 09 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Scientific evaluations on climate change have confirmed that climate change is indeed a key driver to biodiversity loss and stress to the country's resources, says Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

The minister was speaking on Wednesday at the three-day World Parks Congress (WPS) meeting, which aims to reflect on progress made and challenges faced by protected areas since the last WPC in 2003.

He said it was predicted that by the year 2030, the number of people living in areas of water stress would increase by 1 billion to 3.9 billion.

He said it was imperative to adopt a Business Unusual approach to the climate change challenge.

"Through the approach to 'Business Unusual', we need to address the unmanageable through mitigation and unavoidable through adaptation," he said.

"It is therefore critical to design and strengthen regional water regimes to manage the challenges around increased water scarcity, and more specifically to appropriately govern international rivers, watersheds and underground water resources," the minister said.

The minister further said South Africa was currently assessing how the planning, management and expansion of national parks can build resilience to climate change.

"South Africa, as a developing country, stands ready to do more - but we also need the most economically advanced nations to do even more and to come good in supporting us," he said.

He said tools are in place to address the problem in an affordable way that will reduce some impact and avoid extreme ones.

According to the department, one of the greatest challenges facing protected areas continues to be the effective implementation and management of protected areas.

This includes the need to ensure that protected areas provide sustained and equitable benefits to local communities and reduce poverty and biodiversity loss and adaptation to climate change.

The meeting is also expected to provide impetus to achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Programme on protected areas.

The adoption of CBD Programme of work adopted in 2004 defines global cooperation on protected areas planning and management.

However a challenge which is also an opportunity to Africa is to use the trans-boundary water resource management to promote regional cooperation and development.

In addressing biodiversity problems globally, the minister urged delegates to continue to build on 2010 targets set by the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

South Africa has already published the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment publication, to guide the conservation and management of biodiversity to ensure sustainable and equitable benefits for all.

The meeting is attended by local and foreign delegates including the IUCN President and former DEAT Minister, Valli Moosa and Chairperson of the Convention of Nik Lipoukhine.

The World Parks Congress takes place every ten years. - BuaNews

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