UN ecology experts look to new nature-given technologies

May 28th, 2008 - 7:50 pm ICT by admin  

Bonn (Germany), May 28 (DPA) New technologies gleaned from observing nature are set to provide exciting applications in the decades ahead that will supersede current environmentally destructive practices, UN experts said Wednesday. Ahmed Djoghlaf, general secretary of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), called on entrepreneurs to “wake up” to the new possibilities and to “work with nature, not against it.”

Djoghlaf was speaking on the sidelines of the ninth conference of the parties to the CBD being held in the German city of Bonn.

Experts sketched out new technologies that came from observing plants and animals and that were already under commercial development.

The virtually frictionless coating on the skin of a particular Sahara lizard that allows it to burrow at speed through sand was finding applications in industry that would render conventional bearings superfluous, they said.

And the ability of certain plants and beetles in the Namib to store sugars without having access to water for decades could provide technologies that would make conventional refrigeration techniques redundant.

This could, for example, allow vaccines to be stored without refrigeration and facilitate the vaccination of millions of children who currently had no access to life-saving medicines.

Achim Steiner, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said, however, that these new techniques “cannot be funded by philanthropy alone”.

“We need entrepreneuers. We need to change the way markets and economies work,” Steiner said.

He noted that most investment was going into refining what he termed “yesterday’s technologies,” rather than in the paradigm shift required.

Governments had a role in encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in these new technologies, Steiner said.

The ninth conference of the parties to the CBD, which began May 19, entered its final, political, phase Wednesday with a call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a “complete change of course” on species preservation.

Delegates needed to come to “trailblazing decision,” Merkel said.

The conference, which ends Friday, is being attended by around 6,000 delegates from around 190 countries that have ratified the CBD. The United States has signed the convention, launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, but not ratified it.

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