Businesses vow to protect

Businesspeople attending an international biodiversity conference here plan to produce a charter that will require them to help stop the alarming levels of environmental destruction.

A draft of the conference's declaration, which is called the Jakarta Charter, says integrating biodiversity into business strategies could contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

"The Jakarta Charter will be open for signatures to all companies in the world that adhere to its principle," Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) said on Monday.

He said the Jakarta Charter on Business and Biodiversity would be submitted for adoption at the convention's meeting in Japan in Oct 2010.

Representatives from about 200 companies worldwide in mining, fisheries, construction, forestry, tourism and cosmetics gathered in Jakarta for the three-day biodiversity conference.

The draft says the sustainable management of biodiversity will become a source of future operations in the business community.

However, it said that mainstreaming biodiversity into business should be enhanced through voluntary corporate action.

State Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta told the conference that biodiversity in Indonesia faced serious threat including from high population growth, deforestation, illegal trade, invasive alien plant species and climate change.

To make it worse, Hatta said that Indonesia had no regulation that could force business players to protect biodiversity in their operational sites.

Hatta's office plans to submit a draft bill on genetic resources to the House of Representatives, which will be used as an umbrella regulation to protect biodiversity.

He said the business community should contribute to environmental conservation to help preserve biological resources that are used for raw material by companies.

Indonesia, which has ratified the CBD, has 12 percent (515 species) of the world's mammals, the second-highest level after Brazil, and 17 percent (1,531 species) of total species of birds, the fifth-highest in the world. The country is also home to 15 percent (270 species) of amphibians and reptiles, 31,746 species of vascular plants and 37 percent of the world's species of fish.

Executive director of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, Rodrigo Fuentes, told reporters that biodiversity loss was a forgotten crisis in the region that received little attention in the media.

"The sad story is we are losing plants, animals and other species at an alarming rate due to deforestation, large-scale mining and other irresponsible activities," he said. "Biodiversity loss poses a significant threat to the ASEAN people's food security, health and livelihood."

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