December 16, 2009


If we are to tackle climate change, we urgently need to instil values established in the Convention on Biological Diversity into the climate debate. As well as the fundamental importance of biological diversity, these values include the ecosystem approach and the maintenance of the knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communities.

The ecosystem approach is particularly important, yet not always well understood:
“The ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. Application of the ecosystem approach will help to reach a balance of the three objectives of the Convention. It is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies focussed on levels of biological organisation which encompass the essential processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. It recognises that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of ecosystems.”
The ecosystem approach recognises the fundamental interactivity of all planetary processes and of the many levels of organisation among living creatures. It also reminds us that human beings are an integral component of ecosystems with the ever increasing power to undermine or enrich them.
It is also important to note how the application of science is described here: as appropriate scientific methodologies, with the work appropriate and also the words scientific methodologies rather than leaping straight to the work technologies. The language of any new climate agreement should reflect this, because we are only just beginning to understand how the processes that underpin our lives actually function: how soils are built, who water operates within the planetary ecosystem and the vital importance of primary forests, wetlands, coral reefs and other complex systems threatened by climate change.
Courtesy: Convention on Biological Diversity Alliance (


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