Save Biodiversity 03/06 - Update from Countdown 2010

In this Issue

^Dear Countdown 2010 Partners, dear Readers,

Spring has reached Europe, and with it a bustling bouquet of activities to save biodiversity. In the last couple of weeks we have seen Portugal and Sweden joining the Countdown 2010, the European Commission has launched its ambitious roadmap towards 2010 and a number of organisations in the Caucasus biodiversity hotspot issued the Message from Gudauri following the Malahide example of a call for action to save biodiversity.

While this newsletter is being written, the Green Week on Biodiversity features lectures, exhibitions and discussions on all aspects of biodiversity and its conservation. Countdown 2010 is the overarching theme of the event and the initiative now asks the more than 4.000 participants to support the initiative and sign the petition “Save Biodiversity – End Poverty”. The conference concludes with a high-level session on "Countdown 2010 - the Community Commitment".

For this and other events, the Countdown 2010 secretariat has published a new brochure to introduce the initiative and a six-page summary of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. These and other materials can be found online or ordered at

Hope you enjoy this newsletter,
Looking forward to your feedback,

Sebastian Winkler

Sebastian Winkler
Head of Countdown 2010

June 2, 2006

^The EU’s Biodiversity Communication launched on International Biodiversity Day

The European Commission adopted its Biodiversity Communication on the 22nd May, which sets out a list of more than 150 actions to be implemented by the Commission and Member States, to meet the EU’s 2010 biodiversity target. As well as underlining the importance of protecting the EU’s most important priority species and habitats through successful implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Natura 2000 network, the Communication emphasises the need to integrate biodiversity into other policy sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, regional development and research. It also proposes new areas for EU action such as combating invasive alien species and supporting biodiversity adaptation to climate change.

The Communication also outlines actions to reduce the EU’s negative impacts on global biodiversity, through integration into development co-operation, trade and international governance and includes actions designed to protect biodiversity in the EU’s overseas territories and regions, which harbour many valuable species and habitats but are not covered by the EU’s nature Directives.

The vital issue now is ensuring that these actions are implemented, as there is little time left to reach the 2010 biodiversity target. Countdown 2010 can play a valuable role in this regard by making sure that governments in the EU turn these words into action.

^Observations from Green Week 2006 - Biodiversity is Life!

Green Week 2006 "Biodiversity is Life" is a major conference organised by the European Commission. The event attracted several thousand participants to Brussels this week. The quotes below are taken from letters, speeches and interviews during the event.

While Climate change is the clear and present danger, biodiversity loss is an even more serious threat. No matter what measure we take, extinction cannot be undone.
Stavros Dimas
It is not good to think that growth is something that can go on forever
Vaclav Havel
Destroying biodiversity for short term gain is long term suicide.
Peter Carl
The environment can less and less be portrayed as an economic constraint. It is becoming an economic imperative.
Achim Steiner
We need to put the monoculture of the mind behind us.
Vandana Shiva
We are using 23% more of our ecological assets than can be generated by nature in the same year – a debt we cannot repay.
Mathis Wackernagel
Soil provides vital socio-economic services – but nobody is writing cheques to the earthworms for the excellent work they do.
Winfried Blum
We must not allow our vital natural support system to shrink further, for our sake and for the sake of future generations.
László Sólyom, Heinz Fischer, Tarja Halonen and Valdas Adamkus

^Plan - Act - Review: Countdown 2010 and Assessment

Having a strategy is one thing - but with many actors involved, it is equally important to know what is being done and what not. As the EC's Biodiversity Communication addresses the EU as well as the Member States - and many more strategies exist, the Countdown Secretariat together with WCMC is developing a tool to monitor the progress of European countries in taking the necessary steps to halt the loss of biodiversity. The tool aims to look at, not only the actions taken specifically to meet the 2010 target, such as the development of national or regional 2010 strategies, but also to look at policy actions within each sector. Using the indicators developed at the European and global level to monitor changes in the state of biodiversity, the tool will look at the performance of countries in developing and implementing the necessary policy tools to halt biodiversity loss.

After the expert workshop held at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen last year, the secretariat presented its proposal to the Countdown 2010 Steering Group Meeting. The Steering Group agreed on the need for a high profile monitoring tool that could highlight the positive developments in countries as well as the necessary actions. Over the summer the Secretariat will finalise the prototype and will then pilot test it.

^Steering Ahead: Partners of Countdown 2010 meet in Brussels

Ladislav Miko and Sebastian WinklerRegions and international organisations, governments, business and civil society – diversity was the key to the Countdown 2010 Steering Group meeting this week. Ladislav Miko of the European Commission used the opportunity to discuss the new Biodiversity Communication: “This ambitious roadmap is the result of extensive consultations. We are now ready to move towards implementation.” He was not the only one to present successes: Other partners shared experiences in implementing Countdown 2010 in regions from Finland to France, in communicating biodiversity to young people via computer games and competitions and in developing policy and action plans. Joint future activities of the initiative will comprise the launch of an assessment tool, a website to boost partnership interactions and a number of conferences (see events calendar).

^Do it yourself! Include the 2010 biodiversity target in the Millennium Development Goals

At the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, world leaders from developed and developing countries alike committed themselves – at the highest political level – to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These eight time-bound goals aim at reducing poverty worldwide by 2015. In addition, at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the same leaders promised to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

Now it is time that both targets finally go hand in hand: The UN General Assembly in September should incorporate the 2010 biodiversity target into the MDG framework as a stepping stone towards ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015, the seventh Millennium Development Goal.

Sign now to support the petition to the UN General Assembly and take action to save biodiversity and end poverty!

^Focus on… Georgian Centre for the Conservation of Wildlife

Ramaz GokhelashviliOn May 17, Ramaz Gokhelashvili set off a landslide. The director of the Georgian Centre for the Conservation of Wildlife (GCCW) was the first to publicly present his organisation's commitment to Countdown 2010 at the International Conference “Countdown 2010 in the Caucasus – from Commitments to Action”. 17 other organisations followed suit. Based in one Europe’s most biodiverse regions, GCCW promotes birdwatching and sustainable tourism, monitors and protects wildlife and works with others to build long term capacity for biodiversity conservation.

Together with the IUCN Regional Office for Europe, GCCW invited 60 representatives of organisations from the Caucasus region and international stakeholders to Gudauri in Northern Georgia. The resulting Message from Gudauri  calls for immediate action to manage natural resource use, improve the region’s network of protected areas and monitor biodiversity. At the same time, twelve journalists from Central and Eastern Europe received training on how to report biodiversity related issues.

Focus on... presents selected Partners of Countdown 2010 and their activities on the 2010 biodiversity target. To suggest an organisation, please send an email to

Upcoming Events

11 June
8th GEO Day of Biological Diversity (Germany)
12-13 June
Expert Meeting on Countdown 2010 in the Regions (s'Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands)
14-16 June
Conference: Innovation in Urban Biodiversity (London, UK)
26-28 June
Local Action For Biodiversity (Rome, Italy)
3-4 July
Roundtable: Responding to the 2010 biodiversity challenge (London, UK)
19-21 September
Conference "Biodiversity in European Development Cooperation" (Paris, France)
25 September–14 October
International training seminar on biodiversity and protected area management (Italy)
IUCN European Members' Meeting (Barcelona, Spain)

New Publications

News from Countdown 2010

22/05/06: Portugal joins Countdown 2010

22/05/06: Biodiversity: Action needs to speak louder than words

17/05/06: Action, action, action to save biodiversity in the Caucasus

16/05/06: Communicating biodiversity: Hard work and no fear of figures

12/05/06: Sweden joins Countdown 2010

02/05/06: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows decline of European plants and animals

03/04/06: Bridging global and local: Countdown 2010 engaging with European Regions

More news

New Partners

Countdown 2010 would like to welcome its new partners:

You want to join as well? See here or speak to the Secretariat!

For more information please contact or visit

This newsletter is issued bi-monthly by Countdown 2010. To subscribe/unsubscribe, please send an email to Wiebke Herding. We also welcome comments and feedback to the same address. Previous issues of this newsletter can be found at