TOKYO — Representatives to a United Nations conference on biodiversity emerged from marathon talks early today with agreements to protect the world’s species and ecosystems from pollution, overexploitation, and habitat destruction.
Delegates to the 10th meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity agreed to protect 17 percent of the world’s land areas and 10 percent of oceans by 2020, one of 20 targets, participants said. Overcoming divisions between rich and poor countries, members also agreed on a system to share access to and benefits from genetic resources such as plants whose extracts have been developed into medicines — a key sticking point that had threatened to doom the entire two-week meeting in Nagoya.
But delegates pressed toward reaching an agreement, wanting to avoid the kind of collapse that befell UN climate talks last year.
“At a certain point in the evening, it looked like it was all going to fall apart, so this is good news,’’ said Nathalie Rey, an oceans policy adviser with Greenpeace International.
One of the conference’s key goals is to set measurable targets that will slow or halt the rate of extinctions and damage. Scientists warn that unless such biodiversity loss is prevented, extinctions will spike and the natural world could collapse with devastating consequences, from plunging fish stocks to less access to clean water.