In 2010, the UN's International Year of Biodiversity, the world is expected to agree new goals for preserving species.
The Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), scheduled for late October next year in Nagoya, Japan, will also try to establish an international framework for ensuring more equitable access to, and sharing of, genetic resources.
But like many regions, Africa is already certain to fail to "achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss" — the last CBD target set in 2002. Scientists say extinction rates are accelerating rather than slowing down and biodiversity-rich areas such as Africa are particularly vulnerable to the decline.
Will new targets for 2020 be any more achievable?
Comment from the editor: UNESCO can play a key roll in the next few months helping African nations to plan for the October meeting, and indeed in participating in the International Year for Biodiversity and preparing for the long term effort needed to preserve and protect African biodiversity.