`Evaluate natural resources to protect them`

The IUCN estimates that a quarter of the world`s mammals, 13% of birds, 41% of amphibians and 33% of reef-building corals are at the risk of extinction.

Updated: Oct 21, 2012, 12:01 PM IST

Hyderabad: Countries should evaluate their vast natural resources and incorporate this into their national budgets and development planning decisions to check the loss of valuable biodiversity, says the head of the world`s largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment.

Naoko Ishii, chief executive officer and chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), said the next 10 years are likely see another 700 million people added to the world and under such pressure, incremental environmental strategies alone will simply not suffice.

"We are facing a global challenge to protect our environment because we take our natural resources for granted as they come for free. The global ecosystem is very important and has a value and we need to find a way to value it in order to check its extinction," Ishii said in an interview on the sidelines of the UN conference of biodiversity here.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that a quarter of the world`s mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41 percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building corals are at the risk of extinction.

Ishii, who took over as GEF chief last August, said efforts should be made to integrate the ecosystem evaluation process into the government policy-making decisions.

"We have to put value to the nature and we have to mainstream those in the decision making system and national budget, development planning and also day-to-day decisions," she said, noting that countries like India are already doing it in some way.

"India is already doing good work, when it comes to evaluation of natural resources. They perform tiger and elephant census," she said.

The GEF unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.

Established in 1991 as a program in the World Bank, GEF has grown to become an independent institution and a financial mechanism for several United Nations conventions on environment.

Ishii, former deputy vice minister of Finance in Japan, said the coming decade presents challenges unprecedented in the history of mankind.

"We have already reached or exceeded the carrying capacity of several of the earth`s ecosystems. The next 10 years will likely see another 700 million people added to the world population. More than one million additional world-class consumers, and 50 percent growth in economic output," she said.

Ishii, who has also served as World Bank country director in Sri Lanka, emphasised that all key actors - from local communities to national governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and indigenous people - must recognize the part they must play in finding and implementing solutions to protect nature.

The eleventh conference of parties on biodiversity, which ended Saturday, saw developed countries pledging to double their funding for biodiversity conservation.

The two-week conference was attended by over 14,000 delegates from 193 countries.