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Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to help reduce the rate of biodiversity loss throughout the world. [116046]

The World Summit on Sustainable Development set a target to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity at the global, regional, sub regional and national levels by the year 2010. A challenge of this magnitude requires international co-operation. We are working within existing international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to this end.The CBD reviewed the outcomes from WSSD at its intersessional meeting in March 2003. The UK was among those Parties which pressed successfully for a recommendation that each Conference of Parties should assess progress towards the target. To faciliate this, the CBD together with the United Nations Environmental Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre organised an international conference in London from 21–23 May 2003 with financial support from my Department. The meeting made a number of recommendations on how we might better co-ordinate efforts to achieve the goal and monitor progress towards it.The Darwin Initiative is one means by which the Department provides direct support to other countries to help safeguard their biodiversity. This grant programme launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 assists countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in resources to conserve and sustainably use their biological diversity. Phase II of the Initiative launched in November 2002 by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, focuses on enhanced legacy to produce greater biodiversity gains, increasing partnership with local organisations and communities and stronger links to the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity. So far it has committed over 30 million to over 300 projects with links to some 100 developing countries and countries with economies on transition. On 2 August, the Prime Minister announced an increase in funding from £3 million per annum rising to £7 million a year by 2005–06.Last year also saw the largest ever replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which now stands at three billion dollars over four years. In addition to its assessed contribution to this replenishment, the UK contributed a voluntary additional amount of £15 million, making a total contribution of around £118 million. A substantial proportion of the GEF goes to biodiversity projects and within that a substantial proportion to protectedareas.