The Gambia is first country to establish citizen forum for achieving 2010 biodiversity target

'Friends of the Convention on Life on Earth' will promote action for the planet by civil society

The President of The Gambia, H.E. President Dr. Alhaji Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, has announced the creation of the "Friends of the Convention on Life on Earth. The Gambia therefore becomes the first Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity to establish a forum for citizen engagement on action for the 2010 biodiversity target.

The citizen forum is a direct response to the message to the citizens of the world issued by Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf the first day after assuming his duty as the new Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In his message of 3 January 2006, Dr. Djoghlaf stated that "the Earth's life support systems, from its forests and flowers to its coral reef and waterway, are under assault as never before." He reminded the international community of the world of the urgent need to fulfill the commitment adopted in Johannesburg in 2002 by 110 Heads of State at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to substantially reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010, and called for all citizens of the world to engage in action to achieve the 2010 biodiversity target.

H.E. President Dr. Alhaji Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, the President of The Gambia, invited other countries in Africa and around the world to take up the challenge. The announcement came on the margins of the most important gathering of ministers of the environment in the history of the United Nations Environment Programme - the ninth special session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.

In announcing the creation of the "Friends of the Convention on Life on Earth", President Jammeh stated "Reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity in the world cannot be achieved without the full and effective engagement of all citizens of the world. Therefore I have decided to establish a popular forum in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity which will allow the citizens of The Gambia to make their contribution for protecting life on earth and I sincerely hope that this initiative will be followed in other parts of Africa and the world"

In the context of South-South cooperation, President Jammeh also declared his intention to explore the establishment in The Gambia of an African training centre for the achievement of the globally agreed upon target of substantially reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010.

Dr. Djoghlaf stated, "The decisions announced by the President of The Gambia are major contributions for the preparation of the next global gathering on biodiversity to be held in Curitiba, Brazil, in March 2006. I am confident that these actions will inspire and guide the more than 100 ministers expected to attend the upcoming meeting in Brazil, which is one of the most megadiverse countries in the world, and fully committed to contribute to the protection of life on Earth. "

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Information for Journalists: The text of Dr Djoghlaf's statement to the citizens of the world can be found on the website of the CBD at: http://www.biodiv.org

The Virtual Curitiba Biodiversity Conference: Achieving the 2010 Target is accessible online at: http://2010.biodiv.org


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