November 2, 2010

Biodiversity conference highlights major solution in diet change

Concluding Friday, October 29, the two-week United Nations conference on biodiversity has involved intense negotiations by delegates from over 190 nations toward a new protocol on managing natural resources and halting the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, which scientists have warned is presenting an ever more urgent threat to humans’ way of life.

Janez Potocnik - European Commissioner for Environment (M): Biodiversity, it’s an issue which was sometimes too much in the shadow. Also in the shadow of the climate change, which is extremely important, but we should understand that biodiversity is actually the other side of the same coin.

VOICE: One of the main issues considered was access to resource management, especially in consideration to indigenous residents.

Nigel Crawhall - Director of Secretariat, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee (M): I think what we know about successful conservation is that communities must be empowered and supported to help conserve the resources they rely on.

VOICE: Other issues discussed were a new plan to protect biodiversity through such measures as by setting aside land and marine sanctuaries and supporting a new scientific organization to provide recommendations for policies on preventing biodiversity loss.

During the ministerial meeting on Wednesday, October 26, Japan and the European Union each announced financial support that would be provided to developing countries in curbing damage to natural areas.

During the conference, a report was also presented by the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency, offering new strategies to dramatically reduce global biodiversity loss.

The study highlighted that conservation practices, though valuable, would fail to be a sufficient solution alone. Rather, a combination of actions would be more effective, with by far one of the best outcomes resulting from a global switch to a meat-free diet. The reason is that livestock raising causes a large part of biodiversity loss through occupying land, destroying forest habitats, and using up vast grain supplies for feed.

Ben Ten Brink - Program Manager, Nature, Landscape and Biodiversity, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (M): We found out indeed that lowering the consumption of meat or even vegetarians, or eat no meat at all, is one of the strongest and better ways of preventing the loss of biodiversity.

VOICE: Leading delegates agreed about the importance of dietary lifestyle change as a constructive way to protect ecosystems, mentioning the added benefits of reducing climate change, increasing food security, and improving health.

Jo Leinen - European Parliament Member, Chair of Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (M): The protection of biodiversity means that we have to reduce emissions and the consumption of resources; and that means we have to change our lifestyle – our lifestyle is much too heavy for the nature and the ecosystems, and especially our eating habits have to be changed. I think we eat too much meat and we eat too much fish, and we have to reduce both and be more vegetarian.

Pavan Sukhdev - Study leader for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), Special Advisor and Head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative (M): I take the view that we should have less meat in our diets and more vegetables, and I think it makes sense for nature, it makes sense economically, and it actually is a solution to the world food problem.

Ben Ten Brink - Program Manager, Nature, Landscape and Biodiversity, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (M): Things like cancer is also partly caused by eating too much meat and another reason is that it’s very beneficial for climate change. The less meat we eat, the lower will be the change in climate. So that’s I think three good reasons: biodiversity, climate change and personal – it’s healthy to reduce the consumption of meat.

VOICE: We sincerely thank all participating scientists, government and organization leaders for your efforts to find ways to save our co-inhabitants in the natural environment, and thus humankind.

May we adopt the soundest policies, beginning with the cost-effective, life-supporting shift to an organic vegan diet, to ensure a vibrant future for all.

Ben Ten Brink (M): Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet!

VOICE: During an August 2009 videoconference in Thailand, Supreme Master Ching Hai emphasized the need for more benevolent consideration of our co-inhabitants, to ensure our own well-being and that of the planet.

Supreme Master Ching Hai: If we want to live according to nature and let things evolve accordingly, then we should respect all nature. Right now, we interfere too much with nature and we even breed animals unnaturally, like at least 55 billion livestock per year, and billions more fish, etc. These are not natural made.

Can this be called ecological or natural at all? And we can see for ourselves already that killing, torturing animals, eating animals has not been helpful to our evolution ecologically, economically, scientifically, medically – nothing. And it only brings us trouble and suffering up to now, like the mad cow disease, the swine flu, the bird flu, so many diseases, etc., etc., that now we can’t even deal with.

We have to protect all species so that we can keep our biodiversity and keep a natural evolution for all beings, including humans.

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