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NGOs call for African biodiversity centre

by Staff Writers
Libreville (AFP) Sept 17, 2010
Non-governmental organisations have called for a biodiversity centre to be set up in Africa to study species and control their exploitation, on the sidelines of a pan-African ministerial meeting.

"On behalf of civil society, we insisted on the establishment of a regional African centre on biodiversity" when experts met in Gabon from Monday to Wednesday, ahead of the ministerial conference, Nicaise Moulombi, the head of the High Council of Non State Parties, told AFP on Friday.

"One of Africa's deficits is its real knowledge of its genetic resources (...) This centre would enable us to conduct monitoring because (...) we don't know what the resources are," added Moulombi, who also heads the Gabonese NGO Growth for a Healthy Environment.

"There are big laboratories which earn enormous amounts of money in Africa from taking samples of species. So there really is a need for a centre on biodiversity."

According to the organising committee, 36 countries are taking part in the Libreville conference aimed notably at agreeing on a common African stance on biodiversity before the UN General Assembly meets next week, and before a UN summit on biological diversity due to take place at Nagoya in Japan on October 18-19.

The ministers' meeting in Gabon was due to end later Friday.

Mouloumbi said that NGOs he represented also called for "a strengthening of the regulatory and legislative frameworks covering access to genetic resources" and the means of "enabling indigenous populations, which still live off hunting and gathering, to have their share. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no equitable distribution."

He added that in looking ahead to the Nagoya summit, NGOs were "concerned because of the failure of Copenhagen," where a global summit on climate change took place at the end of 2009. Mouloumbi hoped that the Nagoya meeting would be different.

During last-minute negotiations in Copenhagen, an agreement was reached to help the countries most vulnerable to climate change to the tune of 30 billion dollars (23 billion euros) over three years (2010, 2011 and 2012), then more funds to reach the sum of 100 billion dollars by 2020.

At the beginning of May, African leaders warned that they would oppose a global accord on climate change if the developed nations did not keep their financing commitments.

earlier related report
Following is a factfile on world population growth:

- In 1900, the world's population stood at around 1.65 billion. By 2000, it had reached six billion. Today it is more than 6.8 billion, growing at around 78 million a year. By early 2012, it will exceed seven billion.

- The highest rate of population growth was in the late 1960s, at 2.04 percent, and the biggest annual increase in numbers, with 86 million each year, was in the late 1980s.

- The growth rate today is around 1.3 percent globally, but in the 49 poorest countries, it is at 2.3 percent.

- By 2050, the world's population will be 9.1 billion, increasing at the rate of 33 million annually. This is a middle-of-the road projection, based on a decline in fertility from 2.56 children per woman today to 2.02 children per woman by 2050.

- The total could be as high as 10.5 billion or as low as eight billion if the fertility variable changes up or down by "half a child" per woman as compared to the medium projection..

- In a world of 9.1 billion, 7.9 billion will live in countries categorised today as developing economies. But if fertility remains at today's levels, they will number 9.8 billion.

-- In 2005, modern contraception in the poorest countries reached only 24 percent among women of reproductive age who were married or in a union. Another 23 percent had an unmet need for family planning.

- In 31 countries, the population is likely to double by 2050, the vast majority of which are least developed, such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Niger, Somalia and Uganda.

- In 45 countries, the population is likely to fall by 2050. They include Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Korea and Ukraine.

- Slower population growth in many developed countries has led to a higher proportion of older people. In these economies, 22 percent of the population is already aged over 60, a proportion projected to reach 33 percent in 2050. This has raised concerns about economic sustainability and the future of pensions.

- In developing countries today, about half of the population today is aged under 25. Only nine percent of the population is aged 60 or more. But these countries too will face the challenge of the demographic pyramid. One fifth of their population will be aged 60-plus by 2050.

SOURCE: "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision," UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, March 2009

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