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Deal reached at crucial UN biodiversity conference

A UN conference on biodiversity ended in agreement Friday, with delegates backing a pact to protect endangered species and the planet’s ecosystem. However, a Greenpeace adviser stated that they would have liked to see more ambitious targets.

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AP - A UN conference on biodiversity ended in agreement Friday, with delegates backing a pact to protect endangered species and the planet’s ecosystem. However, a Greenpeace adviser stated that they would have like to have seen more ambitious targets.

Representatives to a U.N. conference on biodiversity emerged from marathon talks early Saturday with agreements to protect the world's species and ecosystems from pollution, overexploitation and habitat destruction.

Delegates to the 10th meeting of the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity agreed to protect 17 percent of the world's land areas and 10 percent of oceans by 2020, one of 20 targets, participants said.

Overcoming divisions between rich and poor countries, members also agreed on a system to share access to and benefits of genetic resources such as plants whose extracts have been developed into medicines - a key sticking point that had threatened to doom the entire two-week meeting in Nagoya, southwest of Tokyo.

But delegates pressed toward reaching an agreement, wanting to avoid the kind of collapse that befell U.N. climate talks last year.

“At a certain point in the evening, it looked like it was all going to fall apart, so this is good news,'' said Nathalie Rey, an oceans policy adviser with Greenpeace International. “I would've liked to have seen more ambitious targets, especially on protected areas. But an agreement is better than no agreement.''

One of the conference's key goals is to set measurable targets that will slow or halt the rate of extinctions and damage. Scientists warn that unless action is taken to prevent such biodiversity loss, extinctions will spike and the intricately interconnected natural world could collapse with devastating consequences, from plunging fish stocks to less access to clean water.

Host nation Japan proposed a compromise text Friday to break a logjam in the prickly area of sharing genetic resources, called access and benefits-sharing, or ABS, in U.N. parlance.
 

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