UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- As the United Nations Monday kicked off its official launch of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity to highlight the continued devastation on the world's species, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it a "wake-up call" to protect the globe's natural resources.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to the media at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, the United States, Jan. 11, 2009. Heralding 2010 as the year of development, Ban Ki-moon on Monday underscored the urgent need to ensure that action is accelerated to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.(Xinhua/Shen Hong)
In his message released by his spokesman here marking the occasion, the secretary-general said, "Over the past half-century, human activities have caused an unprecedented decline in biological diversity."
"A wide variety of environmental goods and services that we take for granted are under threat, with profound and damaging consequences for ecosystems, economies and livelihoods," the message read.
World leaders in 2002 reached a consensus to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, which was added into the Millennium Development Goals but "will not be met," Ban said.
The trends of downward consequences persist, he said, citing that tropical forests continue to hurt where endemic species have fallen and have disrupted local, regional and global climates.
In addition, Ban also named the damaging effect climate change and ocean acidification had on coral reefs. In his message, Ban called on a number of measures which include improved management for forest sustainability where they can store carbon and protect watersheds, as well as the improved preservation of coral reefs so they can continue cushioning the coasts from storms.
To raise awareness of the "impending crisis and spur the world to act," Ban said the United Nations General Assembly named 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.
In September 2010, Ban said, the General Assembly will hold a special high-level meeting where the international community will be given the opportunity to show "much needed leadership" in preparation for the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in Japan, in which a new strategic plan for putting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity into force will be adopted.
The convention, which entered into force at the end of 1993 and now has 193 parties, is based on the premise that the world's diverse ecosystems purify the air and the water, stabilize and moderate the Earth's climate, renew soil fertility, cycle nutrients and pollinate plants.
"In this International Year, we must counter the perception that people are disconnected from our natural environment," Ban said. "We must increase understanding of the implications of losing biodiversity."
"In 2010, I call on every country and each citizen of our planet to engage in a global alliance to protect life on Earth," Ban said underscoring the time is now to establish targets.
"Biodiversity is life," Ban said. "Biodiversity is our life."
The first major event of the International Year of Biodiversityis set for a high-profile meeting on Jan. 21-22 at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).