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Jun-12-2010 00:18printcomments

Alliance for Zero Extinction and the Convention on Biological Diversity Join Forces

The United States participated in the treaty’s development but has not ratified it.

The Blue-billed Curassow, a Critically Endangered bird, is one of many species that may benefit from a new Memorandum of Cooperation. Photo: Fundacion ProAves
The Blue-billed Curassow, a Critically Endangered bird, is one of many species that may benefit from a new Memorandum of Cooperation. Photo: Fundacion ProAves

(WASHINGTON D.C .) - Two of the world’s premier institutions promoting biodiversity conservation—the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), a global alliance to prevent extinction of species, and the Convention on Biological Diversity and its 193 Parties—are entering into a partnership through a new cooperative agreement to prevent species extinctions and maintain ecosystems and habitats at key sites for endangered species.

The Convention on Biological Diversity is the international legal instrument adopted in 1992 to sustain the diversity of life on Earth. A recent review found that meeting its goals to halt species and habitat loss is proving very challenging.

“Seventeen years after the Convention was entered into force, the need to preserve biodiversity has only grown,” said Mike Parr, Chairman of AZE and Vice President of American Bird Conservancy. “Targeting protection efforts to sites identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction is one way Parties to the Convention can effectively reach their conservation goals.”

A Memorandum of Cooperation between AZE and the Convention Secretariat was signed during a plenary session of the fourteenth meeting of the Convention’s scientific advisory body (SBSTTA), held last month at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, with the participation of delegates and scientists from the 193 Parties to the treaty, as well as from the United States which has yet to ratify the convention.

“This Memorandum will help us better prevent species extinctions by establishing a collaborative framework between the Convention and AZE by specifically laying out areas of cooperation,” said Parr.

"While the biodiversity family is actively engaged in shaping a new biodiversity vision for 2050, the support of the Alliance for Zero Extinction is crucial,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention. “The experience gained by this unique initiative will be essential for the successful implementation of this new vision.”

Areas of cooperation identified in the Memorandum include:

(a) Use of AZE expertise to support implementation of the revised and updated CBD Strategic Plan, particularly regarding the target of zero extinction of species;

(b) AZE assistance to Parties to the Convention in integrating the zero-extinction target into national biodiversity strategies and action plans;

(c) AZE establishment of a forum on best practices and lessons learned;

(d) AZE assistance in the implementation of the CBD work program on communication, education and public awareness, in particular, the International Day for Biological Diversity, the International Year of Biodiversity (2010), and the International Decade on Biodiversity.

In 2001, biodiversity-conservation scientists came together over a common concern: that landscape‑based conservation approaches alone could not conserve all species, and that many extinctions would occur imminently if key sites were not identified and protected. These concerns led to the formation of AZE, a global initiative of biodiversity conservation organizations that aims to prevent extinctions by identifying and safeguarding key sites where endangered or critically endangered species are in imminent danger of disappearing. To date, AZE has identified 595 sites that are the last refuges for 794 of the world's most highly threatened species.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) serves as Chair of AZE and has been a leading member since its creation. ABC has been actively involved in conservation at AZE sites, and has helped partner groups in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru purchase more than 75,000 acres to create or expand seventeen reserves for AZE species. These include the Dusky Starfrontlet, Colorful Puffleg, Blue-billed Curassow, Long-whiskered Owlet, Jocotoco Antpitta, and Pale‑headed Brush-Finch.

The Convention on Biological Diversity went into effect in December 1993 and has three main objectives: 1) The conservation of biological diversity; 2) The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity; and 3) The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The United States participated in the treaty’s development but has not ratified it.


American Bird Conservancy conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

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