Letter of the Earth Commission

From March 20th to the 31st an important world gathering of the United Nations on biodiversity is taking place in Curitiba, Brazil, addressing items of the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity adopted by 188 countries.

This gathering is the most important of all those organized by the UN, because, in fact, it seeks to discuss strategies to safeguard life from the threats directed against it. Starting with the Summit of the Earth or Rio de Janeiro Eco-92 the topic has been gaining centrality and has been the subject of numerous official documents, especially the 2000 and 2003 Cartagena Protocols on biosecurity.

The Curitiba preparatory document, developed by specialists of the UN and of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment for issues from Brazil, defines biodiversity as follows: including all the different species of plants, animals and microorganisms (estimated in more than 10 million species), all the genetic variability within the species (10 to 100 genes per specie) and all the diverse ecosystems formed by different combinations of species. Biodiversity includes the environmental services responsible for maintenance of life on Earth, for the interaction between living beings and for the offer of goods and services that sustain human societies and their economies.>

Studying the different documents we were surprised by the thoroughness of the initiatives in favor of life. A holistic and systemic treatment has been assumed, with the understanding that all ecosystems are interdependent, and the human species, with its cultural diversity, is recognized as an integral part of those ecosystems. Only with this integral perspective can nature be preserved and its benefits for human beings be recognized in a way that is just and fair.

Why this concern with the preservation of biodiversity? Because studies of the state of the Earth over the past few years have given us the true dimensions of the threats to the system of life. The type of civilization that has been imposed in the last three hundred years, now globalized, implies a limitless exploitation of all the resources of the Planet, a terrifying extinction of species (more than three thousand species extinct every year), a form of production that stresses all the ecosystems because it pollutes the air, poisons the soils, contaminates the water and accentuates the chemical components of the food. Our standard of life is pillaging and consumerist, utilitarian and anthropocentric. It sees the Earth as a mere box from which we take the resources that are useful to us, without regard for their intrinsic value and without the consciousness that we form with them a cosmic and biotic community.

Sadly, almost all the initiatives suggested by the Convention have left untouched this intrinsically destructive system. Left to its own logic, it can destroy us all. But an exception has been made: the basic text of the II National Conference of the Environment of December 2005, provides a clear critique of this paradigm. In a realistic way, still within the system, it attempts to reduce its destructive ecology, supporting the tendencies which break with it, and promoting alternative forms of production and consumption.

This vision, in the country of the large biodiversity in the Planet, represents a significant hope for a promising future.