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Page 481 PART 8 INFRASTRUCTURE FOR SUSTAINING BIODIVERSITYPOLICY
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Page 483 Linking Science and Policy: A Research Agenda for Colombian Biodiversity Cristián Samper Instituto Alexander von Humboldt, Calle 37 #8–40 Mezanine, Santafe de Bogota, Colombia The close interaction between nature and human society has been the basis of life for cultures worldwide over many generations. Indigenous tribes, such as the Yukuna living along the Mirití River in the Colombian Amazonia, view their world as the conjunction of all biophysical, biological, and cultural elements. They have a “humanized” view of the forest, in which all the elements are closely connected, and they see themselves as the guardians of the spirits contained in plants, animals, and minerals (van der Hammen 1992). In recent years, more and more people around the globe have been facing environmental problems as part of everyday life, and many of us have seen changes within our lifetimes. Access to clean water is increasingly difficult, the air in our cities is increasingly polluted, forests are being cut down, and some species are becoming increasingly rare or extinct (WRI 1996). As pressures on natural resources have increased and environmental degradation has become evident, public awareness has increased to an all-time high, and the interdependence of human society and our natural environment is widely accepted. Environmental issues have become important in local, national, and international agendas, and decision-makers are facing the challenge of designing and implementing policies that achieve an adequate balance between environmental, economic, and social goals. Although much progress has been made in agriculture, transportation, and energy (Dower and others 1997), we are still seeing a steady decline in biological diversity worldwide. One important reason for the decline is the gap that still exists between scientists and decision-makers. On the one hand, scientists are not providing the
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Page 484 information that is required for the decision-making process at the right time or in the right language to be useful. On the other, decision-makers at all levels are not necessarily framing questions to scientists or providing the support that is needed to carry out research. In this paper, I describe the attempts made by scientists and decision-makers in Colombia to overcome this problem, and I present a research agenda for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The Earth Summit and the Convention on Biological Diversity In June 1992, leaders of over 100 countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro as part of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit. It was by far the largest gathering of decision-makers from around the world to discuss environmental issuesa clear recognition that these themes do not recognize political boundaries but require international cooperation. The results of the conference include Agenda 21, a global plan to halt and reverse environmental damage to our planet and to promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in all countries (Sitarz 1994). In addition, three legally binding conventions were signedon biodiversity, climate change, and desertification. The Convention on Biological Diversity has been ratified by 173 parties and has become a global framework for decision-makers (see Juma, this volume). The convention defines biological diversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part, this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems” (UNEP 1994). The convention has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable distribution of benefits derived from its use. The last objective is far-reaching, ambitious, and difficult to achieve, but it is essential for future sustainable development. The organization of the convention includes the Conference of the Parties (the highest ranking body), in charge of decisions that are legally binding on all parties. It also has a Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), in charge of analyzing relevant information on issues defined by the Conference of the Parties and making recommendations that are then offered for adoption by decision-makers. This scheme is intended to bridge the gap between science and policy, and it has allowed progress to be made on such issues as coastal and marine biodiversity, agricultural biodiversity, and capacity-building for taxonomy. Many parties to the convention have adopted measures for its implementation on a national level. Colombia has taken steps to implement the convention, and I will examine the measures taken to strengthen scientific research on biodiversity to provide a stronger basis for designing policy and monitoring its effects.
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Page 485 The Biodiversity of Colombia Colombia is among the countries with the richest biodiversity. With a land area of 1,140,000 km2 (about 0.7% of the continental surface of the globe), it is home to over 40,000 plant species, over 1,815 bird species, over 604 amphibian speciesmore than 10% of the species of any of these groups. Colombia's enormous richness can be attributed to its geological history and location. Its location near the equator, as a land bridge between North America and South America, allowed the migration of species between the continents. Many species, such as the oaks (genus Quercus), are widespread in North America, are found in the higher-elevation forests in Central America, and are in forests in the Andes of Colombia as far south as the border with Ecuador. The geological history of Colombia has also played an important role in speciation and diversification. The oldest rock formations in Colombia are parts of the Guyana shield and are found as giants standing over the plains of the Orinoco and parts of the Amazonian region of Colombia. The Andes are more recent and split into three distinct ranges, with the eastern range stretching as far north as Venezuela. The Pacific coast of Colombia, known as the Chocó, has one of the largest rainfallssome locations get more than 12,000 mm of rain annuallyand is separated from other lowland forests by the Andes. This complex geography gives rise to over 140 biogeographic zones (Jorge Hernandez Camacho, unpublished). The Institutional Structure in Charge of Colombia's Biodiversity The environmental sector in Colombia was restructured as a response to the commitments of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by Colombia in 1994. The result is a series of institutions and organizations that are collectively known as the National Environmental System. The highest-ranking body is the National Environmental Council, which is made up of representatives of the different ministries and government agencies and of the private sector, universities, and the civil society. This body is in charge of establishing general policy guidelines and facilitates cross-sectoral coordination. The restructuring also led to the creation of the Ministry of the Environment, as a small entity in charge of supervising environmental policy and representing Colombian positions in international conventions and treaties related to the environment. Environmental control and management are decentralized in the new system and are in charge of regional autonomous corporations for sustainable development. Most important for the purpose of this paper are the research institutes that are in charge of providing the scientific and technical support to the environmental system. The institute in charge of biodiversity research, named after Alexander von Humboldt, was established in 1995 as a joint venture of 24 partners, including the Colombian Ministry of the Environment, the Colombian Science Foundation, universities, and nongovernment organizations. This innovative institutional
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Page 486 approach was designed to bring together the skills and experience of the public and private sectors and to bridge the gap between science and policy. The institute's mission is to promote, coordinate, and carry out research that contributes to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in Colombia. A Conceptual Framework for Biodiversity Research The development of a biodiversity research strategy for Colombia requires a conceptual framework. The Convention on Biological Diversity itself has recognized several levels of organization, including genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. Noss (1990) developed a useful framework to study biodiversity that recognizes those three levels of organization and three attributes that can be surveyed (composition, structure, and function). The result is a two-dimensional matrix that allows any combination of attributes at any level of organization. In the framework presented by Noss (1990), composition refers to the identification of the components of biological diversity, such as species lists. Structure refers to the characterization of these components, including their relative abundance, for example, the types of ecosystems in a given area. By function, we mean the study of the dynamic nature of biodiversity in space and time, for example, monitoring allele frequency in a population over time or the effects of management practices on demography. It is not surprising that an analysis of biodiversity research over the last few decades shows that most work has been done on composition at the species level and very little on function at the genetic and ecosystem levels. A helpful addition might be to include the human dimension and to evaluate the use of biodiversity at any level along a gradient of human intervention, from “pristine” habitats, through extractive systems, to highly transformed or even degraded areas. That would enable us to address such matters as the impact of logging on genetic diversity of nontimber forest products or the effects of wetland restoration on ecosystem services. A Strategic Agenda for Biodiversity Research in Colombia The strategic plan for research in biodiversity in Colombia is designed to address the conceptual framework as a whole, identify gaps and weaknesses, and design actions to overcome them. The plan, developed in collaboration with 100 institutions and scientists nationwide, has six main objectives: • to continue the inventory of biological diversity; • to provide the scientific basis for the conservation of biodiversity; • to develop new ways to use and value biodiversity; • to study the effects of cross-sectoral policies and legislation on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
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Page 487 • to strengthen the national capacity to carry out scientific research and promote international cooperation; and • to design ways to disseminate the results of research, especially to decision-makers. Biodiversity Inventories Although biological inventories have been carried out for the last 2 centuries, we still have little information on what biodiversity we have and where it is. Most of the biological collecting done since the journeys of Alexander von Humboldt and the botanical expedition led by Jose Celestino Mutis in the early 19th century has focused on vascular plants and vertebrates, especially birds and mammals. Invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria have received little attention, and overall we estimate that we probably know less than 10% of the species found in Colombia (figure 1). Research related to characterization at the genetic level is scarce, except for some species of importance for agriculture and health, although the cost and speed of molecular techniques are making these increasingly available to researchers worldwide. The Alexander von Humboldt Institute has completed an exercise to determine the high-priority geographic areas for biodiversity inventories through a series of workshops involving leading scientists. The criteria to evaluate geographic priorities include species richness, endemism, current state of knowledge, and degree of threat, including such variables as extent of original habitat left, degree of fragmentation, rate of change, and existence of protected areas. Use of those criteria has led to the identification of areas that have top priority, primarily those with a Figure 1 Estimated percentage of known species in taxonomic groups in Colombia.
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Page 488 combination of high diversity, high endemism, poor knowledge, and high degree of threat. The resulting maps are used to establish a set of geographic priorities that are used by institutions nationwide for inventories (Samper 1997). In the research plan, the strengthening of biological collections nationwide and the repatriation of information to Colombia are very important. The 29 biological collections in the country house an estimated 1.7 million specimens. However, the collections are not always adequately curated, taxonomic identification is not always reliable, and the information is not readily available for studies in biogeography. Therefore, an important step is to support the exchange of material with national and international specialists and institutions, and a major effort is under way to computerize all collections in Colombia by the year 2000. An additional step is to establish agreements for the repatriation of information housed in museums and other biological collections abroad. Conservation Biology A second major line of work is related to research that directly contributes to the conservation of biological diversity at all levels. Research should address the direct causes of extinction, namely, habitat transformation, overexploitation, competition with alien species, and pollution and climate change (Heywood1995). Research related to conservation should focus on a better understanding of the current status, monitoring, and trends of biological diversity, with emphasis on endangered or threatened taxa or habitats. Preliminary results of this work have resulted in a complete list of threatened plants of Colombia, including 620 species so far, according to the criteria used by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (UICN 1994). We find that a major group of threatened plants consists of species with restricted geographic distributions and those commonly used by humans. By far the largest percentage of these species are orchids (29%) because of overexploitation for ornamental purposes and transformation of habitats (Calderón 1997). Some plant families that are used for timber are also threatened or endangered. A recent survey of major ecosystems in Colombia has revealed that nearly onethird of the habitats have been altered or transformed as part of development (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente 1997). The most degraded ecosystems are, not surprisingly, those with the highest population pressures (table 1), such as the Andean cloud forests (26.5% of original cover remaining) and the tropical dry forests of the Caribbean lowlands (1.5% remaining). To conserve natural ecosystems and diversity, Colombia has set aside more than 9 million hectares in 45 protected areas, roughly 8% of the country. Although some ecosystems, such as the Andean and Amazonian forests, are well represented in the national park system, others, such as the Orinoco grasslands, are underrepresented. Furthermore, many of the areas lack the size or latitudinal gradients that would make them viable in the long term. In this context, the Alexander von Humboldt Institute is identifying critical areas for the establishment of new parks or biological corridors and is making recommendations on investment of limited resources to maximize the diversity preserved under in situ conditions.
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Page 489 TABLE 1 Current Status of Major Natural Ecosystem Types in Colombia Ecosystem Type Original Area, km2 Area Remaining, km2 Fraction Remaining, % Tropical lowland humid forests 550,000 378,000 68.7 Tropical dry forests 80,000 1,200 1.5 Deserts and xerophytic vegetation 11,000 9,500 86.4 Andean cloud forests 170,000 45,000 26.5 Andean Páramo 18,000 18,000 100.0 Flooding forests (Amazonia) 36,000 36,000 100.0 Orinoco grasslands 113,000 105,000 92.9 Amazonian grasslands 14,000 14,000 100.0 Caribbean grasslands 3,500 1,000 28.6 Amazonian shrublands 7,500 7,500 100.0 Gallery forests 118,000 95,000 80.5 Wetlands 13,000 6,500 50.0 Mangrove forests 6,000 3,500 58.3 Source: Ministerio del Medio Ambiente 1997, based on Etter. An additional strategy is to conserve components of biodiversity under ex situ conditions, such as germplasm banks and zoological and botanical gardens. The most important ex situ collections held in Colombia are related to genetic diversity of agricultural crops and livestock. The country has 16 registered botanical gardens, but they contain fewer than 5,000 plant species and no more than 5% of the threatened plants of Colombia. A major effort is under way to strengthen the role of botanical gardens in conservation of and research on endangered flora. However, in situ conservation is generally favored in the absence of a complete understanding of diversity and interactions. One aspect that has received little attention in tropical ecosystems is the effect of alien species and living modified organisms on biodiversity. Research in other countries has shown that introduced species can make up an important fraction of local biodiversity, and in extreme cases, such as the islands of Hawaii, the total number of plants has doubled over the last 2 centuries. Some introduced species can be aggressive and more tolerant to environmental change and can therefore outcompete native species. The effect is especially severe in island and freshwater ecosystems. Over 140 species of freshwater fishes and crustaceans have been introduced into Colombian rivers and wetlands since the turn of the century and might have led to the extinction of several endemic freshwater fish species (Hernando Alvarado, unpublished data). Use and Valuation of Biodiversity. Biodiversity has played a major role in the structuring of human populations. That can be clearly seen in the effects of crop and livestock exchange between continents in recent history and their effect on modern cultures (Hobhouse 1985;
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Page 490 Viola and Margolis 1991). Our livelihood ultimately depends on the direct benefits that we derive from biological diversity (for example, food) and ecosystem services (such as watershed regulation and air control). Colombia is home to 81 ethnic groups that have interacted closely with their environment and in some ways shaped it over the centuries. The traditional knowledge of components of biodiversity, their ecology, and their natural history and of ways to manage resources is critical to our understanding of biodiversity. This knowledge is being lost at alarming rates, primarily as a result of the changes in cultures as they incorporate elements of western society. Some of the indigenous groups, such as the U'wa in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy and the Arhuacos in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, have developed complex production systems that take into account seasonal variations and migrations along an altitude gradient that stretches from sea level to the timberline at 3,000 m (Franco 1997). Documenting these management practices and promoting the training of younger generations to preserve the knowledge have high priority. The Convention on Biological Diversity is to some extent addressing a great paradox: the countries with the highest diversity are the ones with the least economic development. Those countries have legitimate interests in using biological diversity for their development in the 21st century, although the short-term economic benefits are often overestimated. It is important to provide a research basis that recognizes the roles of traditional and scientific knowledge. Preliminary results of our work indicate that the total value of goods and services derived from biodiversity in Colombia can be around $300 billion per year, 5 times the GNP (Mansilla and others, in press). Further research is required to determine the value of goods and services from biodiversity and to examine new uses of and markets for products. Policy and Legislation Research on biodiversity is too often left to biology and related disciplines, and little room is left for other fields of research. Therefore, a high priority in the research agenda is to strengthen policy research to evaluate the effects of crosssectoral policies on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. One clear example is the agrarian reform policy that was promoted during the 1960s and 1970s in Colombia, where “unproductive” land, defined as land that was not used for agricultural and livestock production, was redistributed to small farmers. The policy served as a disincentive for conservation, and the result was that many areas that had remnants of natural forest ecosystems were cleared to give way to pastures and crops. Not only has the policy been changed to be compatible with conservation of natural ecosystems, but also economic incentives for conservation of forest remnants have been established in recent years. Another critical component is research on legislation at the international, national, and local levels and its effects on biodiversity goals. International conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, are increasingly important as we move toward a global economy. It is important to examine the relationship of legislative developments in related conventions, such as the negotiations
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Page 491 under the Convention on Climate Change, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the World Trade Organization. On the national level, the 1991 revision of the constitution of Colombia allowed for many environmental issues to be included. Additional developments have been made at the regional level, such as the agreement among the countries of the Andean Community (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia) for a common regime for access to genetic resources, known as Decision 391 de la Junta del Acuerdo de Cartagena. Training It is no secret that the distribution of research capacities is severely unbalanced geographically and that many developing countries need to train scientists in many of the topics and areas described above. That is done in close collaboration with national and international universities, and our goal is to double the number of researchers in biodiversity in Colombia over the next 25 years. Specialized courses, scholarships, and internships will also play a major role in strengthening national capacity. Communication and Information One element that is often not considered in designing research programs is related to information management and delivery of the results in a manner that is useful for different audiences. Potential users include decision-makers, other scientists, the communication media, and the general public. Each audience has its own interests, background, and ways to receive information. A helpful exercise is to identify user groups, needs, and means. The basis of all communication strategies is information, and such issues as database management are critical for research and decisions. Technological advances in hardware, software, and telecommunication are improving the exchange of information in developing countries. A number of initiatives, such as the clearinghouse mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the InterAmerican Biodiversity Information Network, will strengthen database management and facilitate information exchange. The results of scientific research on biodiversity are traditionally published by scientists in academic journals, and little effort has been made to deliver these results in other ways that make them readily accessible to decision-makers and the general public. Research on the natural history of plants and animals has served as the basis of an increasing number of documentaries that are featured on television networks around the globe. Strengthening the technical capacity for production and worldwide distribution of documentaries on Colombian biodiversity has high priority. Conclusion The actions described in this paper should strengthen capacity to carry out research that is strategically important for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The institutional developments undertaken in Colombia in response
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Page 508 and Rosenthal 1997). This goes beyond the contribution to particular medicines (for example, the antibiotic cyclosporin or birth-control pills from a Mexican yam) to the contribution to research and development in the life sciences (particularly the health sciences). A most dramatic example is an enzyme from the bacterium Thermus aquaticus, originally discovered in a Yellowstone hot spring, which makes the polymerase chain reaction possible. This reaction, the development of which was honored by the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993,1 is a rapid magnifying reaction that produces copious copies of genetic material in the space of hours. Among other things, it is fundamental to the Human Genome Project, with all its incalculable promise for human health, and is central in diagnostic medicine and a wide variety of biological research. Second is the contribution of wild genes to agriculture and animal husbandry, which produce enormous benefits for people. This contribution is potentially greater today because genetic engineering essentially allows a gene to be transferred between any two species rather than only species that can be coaxed to interbreed. The importance of this contribution is evident in light of the need to feed the soaring human population by intensifying agriculture while reducing associated negative environmental affects. However, like any technology, it must be used carefully. A third contribution of wild species to agriculture is that at the organism level, including pollination and integrated pest management that enhance agricultural production and health and save lives. An example of the latter was the identification, through the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, of a parasitic wasp from Paraguay that was the natural predator of the cassava mealy bug then on the verge of creating major famine in West Africa, where neither cassava, the mealy bug, nor the wasp was native (Herren and Neuenschwander 1991). Integrated pest management not only enhances agricultural yields (for example, it prevents billions of dollars of agricultural loss annually in the United States), but also reduces adverse environmental effects of pesticide use. A fourth contribution of biological diversity to the health and well-being of individuals involves the physical threats stemming from the failure of ecosystem services (Myers 1996). A classic example is the flooding and loss of life in Bangladesh and India from deforestation further up the Ganges watershed in Nepal. The impact of Hurricane Mitch on Central America in 1998 was significantly aggravated by the loss of forest cover. A less well-known example, related to the ozone layer and the protection that it provides against UV radiation, is that a 1% increase in UV radiation causes a 10% increase in the incidence of cataracts; there is very little research on the implications of increased UV radiation for other forms of life and what they might mean for people. Biological diversity contributes, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, to the growth of the life sciences. This goes way beyond medical research itself to involve important but serendipitous medical implications, such as how accidental 1 The 1993 Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Kary B. Mullis for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method.
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Page 509 contamination of a laboratory culture by Penicillium mold led to the discovery of antibiotics. The information that is contained in living organisms of value to the life sciences constitutes the library function of biological diversity and has implications as far afield as bioindustry and industrial ecology. Economic Security Governments are naturally concerned about matters that affect the economic condition of their nations and people. One concern about important national economic resources is the possible loss of monopoly because of international theft. A classic examplealthough not of actual theftis the collapse of the Amazon rubber boom after rubber tree seeds were exported by Henry Wickham, an Englishman residing in the lower Amazon; the exported seeds provided the entire basis of the Malaysian rubber industry which supplanted Amazon rubber. A second category, which might be far less obvious, is the effects of alien species that can cause serious problems when introduced into places where they are not native. Alien species are the second greatest cause of extinction after habitat destruction, but by and large they are not regarded as a security issue or as of great economic import. For example, the loss of the American elm through Dutch elm disease is probably viewed more as an aesthetic consequence than as an economic one. But, the collapse of the lake trout fishery in the Great Lakes because of the introduction of the lamprey and the clogging of the pipes of electric plants by the zebra mussel have clear economic consequences. The comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi (transported in ballast water from the Atlantic coastal waters of the New World) has short-circuited the food chain in the Black Sea and is now equal in biomass to the 250-million-dollar-a-year anchovy fishery that it has replaced (Carlton 1996); this clearly is an economic-security issue for the Black Sea nations. Sometimes, the combination of two alien species can create a problem that each alone does not. The zebra mussel accumulates polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) through filter feeding in the Great Lakes and could even have been a good bioremediator to clean up that pollutant. The introduction of a species of fish (a goby) that feeds on zebra mussels now opens the possibility that PCBs will work their way once again up the food chain with both human health consequences and economic consequences, including the need to close down the fishery (Jude 1996). Ecosystem services provided by biological diversity provide a third connection with economic security. The Panama Canal, a strategic economic waterway, requires a freshwater supply if it is both to function as a canal and to provide a biological barrier between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea biotas. The fresh-water supply, in turn, depends on the forests of the canal watershed. A Smithsonian scientist once calculated that total deforestation of that watershed would result in 3 million cubic meters of sediments entering the canal each year. Another example is the hydrological cycle of the Amazon basin, in which half the rainfall is generated internally largely because of the forest cover. The stability of the Amazon climate, and indeed that of central South America, depends on
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Page 510 all the Amazon Pact nations' working together to maintain the integrity of that cycle. A fourth connection between biological diversity and economic security involves physical damage to territory. Biodiversity loss can be both the consequence and the cause of such damage as in Hurricane Mitch in Central America in 1998. Nonetheless, if the more ambitious versions of the Hidrovia waterway project for the Parana Paraguay drainage went forward, the economic consequences could be similar to those engendered by modifications to the southern Florida ecosystem and the Mississippi drainage. The United States is now investing large sums to restore the South Florida ecosystem by reversing the effects of 50 years of independent decisions about water that have reduced sheet flow of water by 25%–50%. There was much greater Mississippi flood damage in 1993 than would otherwise have been the case, because of diking and other projects that altered the natural riverbed. Another connection between biological diversity and economic security involves the relationships between genetic resources, science, and economic growth. For the United States and other advanced industrial nations, science and technology are essential to maintaining economic growth. Biological science and biotechnology, in particular, are sectors of research and development of major and growing importance. Access to genetic resourcesthe ability to use and study genetic material in or from other countriesis essential under appropriate rules and with due compensation, of course. Extinction, obviously, represents the ultimate loss of access, because living material no longer exists. Conflict, State Capacity, and Stability Top foreign-policy and security concerns include avoidance of unnecessary conflict, coupled with preparedness in case of need, and efforts to maintain stability both outside and inside the state. A traditional aspect involves the protection of strategic goods, usually thought of in terms of physical resources, such as oil and uranium. There might be instances in which these include genetic resources. From a historical perspective, Southeast Asian rubber is an example of a strategic target for the Japanese in World War II. A second category would be conflicts arising over resources. There have been spats over fishery issues (involving, for example, Canada, Spain, and the outer continental shelf of North America), but there seem to be no examples of major interstate conflict arising over biological resources. In this context, it is ironic that nations will fight over a square meter of territory and ignore the loss of territory in cubic meters through soil erosion. Biological resources can relate to defense preparedness. Certainly, access to rubber and quinine were essential to the Allied war effort in World War II, and antibiotics contributed in an important way as well. It is hard to see how biological resources will play as big a role in high-technology wars, except for the dark side of biological warfare. The threat of the latter is far greater than many recognize, and protocols and agreements are generally poorly developed and weak. A
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Page 511 more interesting contribution of biological diversity might be as a source of intelligence information. The provenance of a Japanese submarine was once identified by algae scraped from its hull and analyzed by Ruth Patrick (personal communication). Many species have quite limited distributions and can therefore serve as useful sources of geographic information. Microbial species that can accumulate radionuclides can be used to assess compliance and noncompliance with nuclear nonproliferation. A fourth and enormously important connection with biological resources is conflict prevention and confidence-building. Environmental cooperation between two states often leads to broader cooperation on seemingly more difficult issues. The common agenda on the environment between Brazil and the United States is an outstanding example. The water problems of Cyprus might present a first important subject of cooperation between North Cyprus and South Cyprus; certainly, the problem cannot be addressed without both parties. Binational peace parks can play an important role in reducing border tensions; in 1998, a peace park between Ecuador and Peru was a major element in resolving their territorial dispute. The fifth link of biological resources, namely political tension between countries, is probably likely to be a contributing, rather than a causal, factor. An example would be US and Canadian tensions over the management of Pacific salmon stocks. An example of a causal factor and biodiversity loss as an associated consequence2 was the El Salvador-Honduras soccer war, generally agreed to have been caused by problems with environmental refugees. The Role of Security Institutions Security institutions are generally not thought about from an environmental perspective, but biodiversity can have both positive and negative effects. The Department of Defense (DOD) now reviews any “significant military exercise” (a technical DOD term) for possible environmental effects. Although it is hard to see how this could weigh heavily during full war conditions (for example, the US military was not included in the greenhouse gas commitments negotiated under the climate convention at Kyoto, Japan, in 1997), there is substantial military activity during peacetime. DOD now works to conserve biological diversity on its extensive land holdings. Medea, a group of US scientists with security clearances, study data gathered by the US intelligence community3 to see whether they 2For more on the linkages between environmental refugees and conflict, see Homer-Dixon and Percival 1996. In response to the grossly overpopulated and severely degraded land in their native land, Salvadorans had been gradually migrating into their less densely populated neighbor, Honduras. As the land continued to be more degraded and population continued to increase, more Salvadorans were crossing the Honduran border; this led to the Honduran government's expulsion of the migrants. War then broke out between the two countries in 1969. 3 An environmental task force was established in 1992 by the Central Intelligence Agency to assess how crucial environmental issues could be solved through the use of the US national security apparatus. The task force brought together the group of 60 prominent US environmental and global-change scientists, know as MEDEA.
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Page 512 include useful environmental information. An example would be data on possible thinning of the Arctic ice cap as an early indicator of global warming. Conclusions Viewing through a traditional political-science lens, one is forced to conclude that environment (under the collective umbrella of biodiversity effects) is more often a contributing factor, with some other aspects of national interest and security, than a causal factor. The weak part of that conclusion is that although biodiversity loss is easy to ignore incrementally, for national interest and security the aggregate can be disastrous. For example, Haiti's major biodiversity loss is caused by almost complete deforestation, and loss and deforestation are clearly not in Haiti's national interest. Given present trends, the loss of biodiversity could also be disastrous on a global scale. The press of everyday problems makes it too easy, in Jessica Mathews's terms, for the urgent to override the important. Scale and rate of change affect how we should view matters. As this forum met, there were gigantic smoke clouds from extensive fires in the Amazon, as well as the better-known vast fires in Indonesia. Together they mean that more of the world burned in 1997 than ever before in recorded history. That is hard to dismiss as not of high national interest and security concern. As Madeleine Albright has observed, threats to national security are no longer confined to armed threats.4 They also come through the air, water, changing climate, and loss of biological diversity. The positive contributions of biodiversity and ecosystemspresent and potentialand the negative effects of loss are so great that they merit much more serious attention. The “important”the environment and biological diversityhas indeed become urgent. Acknowledgments. This paper required my learning about a field basically new to me, namely political science/foreign affairs, including its vocabulary. I am grateful to the Environmental Change and Security Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars for my tutorial, first and foremost to its founding director, P.J. Simmons. His successor, Geoff Dabelko, and Jessica Powers and Aaron Frank were all very helpful. J.P. Myers and Sarah Vogel helped with the information on zebra mussels, gobies, and PCBs. Kathleen Conforti was helpful in countless ways. References Brown L. 1977. Redefining security. Worldwatch Pap No 14. Washington DC: Worldwatch Inst. Carlton JT. 1996. Marine bioinvasions: the alteration of marine ecosystems by nonindigenous species. Oceanography 9:36–43. 4 Remarks at Saint Michael's College, excerpted in the 1998 Environmental Change and Security Project Report.
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Page 513 Deudney D. 1991. Environment and security: muddled thinking. Bull Atom Sci April:23–8. Gleditsch NP (ed). 1997. Conflict and the environment. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Grifo F, Joshua R (eds). 1997. Biodiversity and human health. Washington DC: Island Pr. Herren HR, Neuenschwander P. 1991. Biological control of cassava pests in Africa. Ann Rev Entonol 36:257–83. Homer-Dixon T. 1999. Environment, scarcity, and violence. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ Pr. Homer-Dixon TF, Percival V. 1996. Environmental scarcity and violent conflict: briefing book. Toronto: Univ Toronto, The Project on Environment, Population, and Scarcity. Homer-Dixon T. 1994. Environmental scarcities and violent conflict: evidence from cases. Int Security 19:5–40. Jude DJ. 1996. Gobies: cyberfish of the 90's. Kakönën J (ed). 1994. Green security or militarized environment. Brookfield: Darmouth. Levy MA. 1995. Is the environment a national security issue? Int Security 20:35–62. Mathews JT. 1989. Redefining security. For Affairs 68:162–77. Myers N. 1996. Environmental services of biodiversity. Washington DC: National Acad Pr and Covelo CA: Island Pr. Myers N. 1993. Ultimate security: the environmental basis of political stability. New York: WW Norton. Patrick R. 1964. A discussion of natural and abnormal diatom communities. In: Jackson DF (ed). Algae and man. New York: Plenum Pr. Patrick R. 1961. A study of the numbers and kinds of species found in rivers in eastern United States. Proc Acad Nat Sci Phila: 113:215–58. Patrick R. 1962. Effects of river physical and chemical characteristics on aquatic life. J Amer Water Works Asso 54:544–50. Ullman RH. 1983. Redefining security. Int Security 8:129–53. UNEP [United Nations Environment Programme]. 1995. Global biodiversity assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Pr. 1140 p. Westling AH. 1999. Biodiversity loss and its implications for security and armed conflict. In: Cracraft J, Grifo FT (eds). The living planet in crisis: biodiversity, science, and policy. New York: Columbia Univ Pr. p 209–16. Wëver O. 1995. Securitization and desecuritization. In: Lipschutz RD (ed). On security. New York: Columbia Univ Pr. p 46–86.
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Page 514 Biodiversity and Organizing for Sustainability in the United States Government Timothy E. Wirth United Nations Foundation, 1301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036 This paper is based on remarks made by Mr. Wirth as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs at the Conference on Nature and Human Society at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, on 30 October 1997. After a decade of discussion on biodiversity through this Second National Forum on Biodiversity, Nature and Human Society: The Quest for A Sustainable World, it might be useful to look ahead. What do we want to have accomplished by the year 2007? On October 28, 1997, the US stock market fell dramatically, caught in a tailspin that sent global markets reeling. The Hong Kong market stuttered and gasped, and morning television in the United States quoted overnight market changes. Economies all over Southeast Asia stumbled and fell, and the international financial institutions responded with billions of dollars. The news was on the front page everywhere in the world. Meanwhile, the broadest fires in recent history were blazing in the Amazon, and the smoke from fires in Indonesia had spread over an area greater than that of the lower 48 states of the United States. El Niño was fingered, creating a convenient mask over the forces actually at the root of these crises. Negotiations for The Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (1997) intensified, with greater stakes than any such international conference before. Yet, with few exceptions, those stories were back-page news, when they were covered at all, and certainly no one stepped in with billions of dollars. The contrast was sharp and significant. Those two sets of events demonstrated the impact of globalization, which is intensifying the relationship between our economies and our environment. Consider the reaction generated when the markets crashed. But did anyone smell the forests burning? Did anyone hear the forests falling? We protect fragile
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Page 515 economies and prop up failing currencies. But what about fragile ecosystems and failing species? Certainly, if we are to have any hope of protecting the world's biological richness, we will have to do a much better job of getting people to listen and to understandto listen to their home, Planet Earth, and to understand the connections between the health of the world's economies and the health of the resources on which those economies rely. Economists, financiers, businessmen, and bankers will have to begin to recognize the costs hidden in exploiting the seas, the lands, and the air for short-term wealth. They will have to recognize that ecological systems are the very foundation of our societyin science, in agriculture, in social and economic planning. Five essential biological systemscroplands, forests, grasslands, oceans, and fresh-waterssupport the world economy. Except for fossil fuels and minerals, they supply all the raw materials for industry and provide all our food: • Croplands supply food, feed, and an endless array of raw materials for industry, such as fiber and vegetable oils. • Forests are the source of fuel, lumber, paper, and countless other products and house valuable watersheds that provide drinking water for growing urban areas. • Grasslands provide meat, milk, leather, and wool. • Oceans and freshwater produce food for people and resources for industry. In the language of the business world, you could say that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. But when we pollute, degrade, and irretrievably compromise that ecological capital, we begin to do serious damage to the economy. With that introduction, let me present a few ideas by focusing on the third Conference on Nature and Human Society, to be held in the year 2007. Globalization By 2007, this forum should have a much better understanding of the impacts of globalization. Today, our economists know that we are profoundly remaking international trade and markets. “Globalization and international trade” has become a mantra, almost an ideology, promising a radiant future for us all. But is there a dark side? Have we looked at other impacts? For example, are globalization and trade between the developed and developing worlds destroying subsistence agriculture? Are we co-opting Third World farmers into production for the international marketplace while their societies are made dependent on imported foods? The social and cultural consequences of this may be very serious. Earlier this week, we heard that the number of languages spoken around the world has declined from 6,000 to 600 in this century alone. What else are we losing? What crops are gone? What about the knowledge of those crops? What of the indigenous people who carry this knowledge?
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Page 516 In 2007, we will be asking these questions more openly and aggressively, and the scientific community will have to be prepared to answer them. Population If globalization is the first suggestion, certainly population is central as well. In 2007, we will know whether we have dealt with the urgency of the question. It is not a question of what to do, but of openly asking about population pressure. It is not always popular, but it must be done. The growth of the world's population has slowed, but the base against which that rate applies is greater than ever before. Our planet is populated by the largest generation of youth in human historyand the next generation will be even larger. There are now roughly one billion teenagers in the world900 million of who are in the developing world.1 Even if average fertility were to fall rapidly to the replacement rate of 2.1, the sheer number of females giving birth over the next several decades will be so large that population will continue to grow rapidly for many years to come. This phenomenonpopulation momentumwill account for about half of anticipated population growth in the developing world through the year 2100. At the International Conference on Population and Development, nations of the world agreedand now must implementan action plan that endorses a strategy to stabilize population growth by meeting the needs of individuals and addressing the range of factors that influence decisions about family size. But acting around the world is not enough. We also must focus here at home, with special reference to our own consumption, disproportionate use of resources, and astonishing production of waste. We must also understand better the concept of carrying capacityhow many of us can the earth sustain, in what lifestyle, and with what expectations? Obviously, population, like globalization, has a profound effect on biodiversity and on the purposes of the Conference on Nature and Human Society. Persistent Organic Pollutants Third, I would raise the issue of persistent organic pollutants. At the Department of State, we have begun to explore this issue, and it has become one of our top priorities. We recently hosted an international meeting on land-based sources of marine pollution, and we are starting to focus on how we can affect this important issue. Theo Colburn, of the World Wildlife Fund, and Diane Dumanowski and Pete Myers, of the W. Alton Jones Foundation, gave us a starting point in this discussion with Our Stolen Future. In 10 years, we will know whether this book is another Silent Spring. I believe that it is and that the research community will be deeply engaged at the next conference. How do toxicants travel? What are the 1 World Population Data Sheet, Population Reference Bureau, 1998.
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Page 517 impacts? Are we poisoning ourselves? What are the implications for reproductive health? Rethinking Biodiversity Fourth, we will have gone a long way toward rethinking biodiversity, and perhaps we will be calling it something new. I'm not sure “ecosystem services” is much better. Maybe “nature's services”? The point is that we have to tell the story better. Why do we preserve snail darters or kangaroo rats? Why do we study nematodes? How does the web of life fit together? And what does it do for the average citizen of the world? On other issues, we have learned to tell the story: • When the Cuyahoga River caught on fire, it became the poster event for the environmental movement. • Asthma caused people to worry about their children and got us the Clean Air Act. • Lead and learning were linked, and we removed lead from gasoline. • Lakes were dying, and we understood acid rain and cleaned up our utilities. • And maybe we will learn about global warming. Is El Niño the trailer for Climate Change the movie? I predict that the link of nature's services to the science of biodiversity will become the way to tell the story. The links with economics will give us new tools to become loud messengers. And I can guarantee that until we all do a better job of telling the story, the Endangered Species Act will continue to be under attack and the Biodiversity Treaty will remain unratified for want of a two-thirds majority in the Senate. One of the signal events of the third Conference on Nature and Human Society will be the awarding of a new prize, awarded for science in service to society. Perhaps we will call it the Ed Wilson Prize for Effective Individual Achievement, for the scientist who did the best job in translating his or her discipline to the public. Or the Peter Raven Award for Institutional Relevance, given to the scientific institution that best used its reach to advance public engagement in the preservation of the natural world. No matter what the name, the point is this: For too long, those public-spirited scientists who sought to take their science outside the laboratory, to the public, to the television audienceor, Heaven forbid, to the political arenahave been punished. To tell the story, to popularize, to explain has somehow been unscientific; it sullied the profession, and those who did it were suspect and unpromotable. It is imperative that we as a societyand individual scientistsdo a better job of rewarding those who translate their science, who bring it to the public's attention, and who foster broad public understanding. My first tutor in thinking about science was Walter Roberts, a wonderful man and founder of the National Center for Atmospheric Science in Boulder. Walter taught me and others about the commitment of science in service to society, and
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Page 518 he was right. Science is critical if our global society is going to develop sustainably. References Carson R. 1962. Silent spring. Boston MA: Houghton Mifflin. Colburn T, Dumanowski D, Myers P. 1996. Our stolen future. New York NY: Dutton.
Representative terms from entire chapter: