Everyone agrees that the new declaration on biodiversity is a triumph. Just one snag: it doesn’t appear to exist.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 2nd November 2010
“Countries join forces to save life on Earth”, the front page of the Independent told us. “Historic”, “a landmark”, a “much-needed morale booster”, the other papers chorused(1,2,3). The declaration agreed at the summit in Japan last week to protect the world’s wild species and wild places was proclaimed by almost everyone a great success. There’s only one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen it.
I checked with as many of them as I could reach by phone: all they had read was a press release, which, though three pages long, is almost content-free(4). The reporters can’t be blamed for this: though it was approved on Friday, the declaration has still not been published. I’ve now pursued people on three continents to try to obtain it, without success. Having secured the headlines it wanted, the entire senior staff of the Convention on Biological Diversity has gone to ground: my calls and emails remain unanswered(5). The British government, which lavishly praised the declaration, tells me it has no written copies(6). I’ve never seen this situation before: every other international agreement I’ve followed was published as soon as it was approved.