CBD COP11: Area size of South Africa may be lost to urban expansion

CBD COP11: Area size of South Africa may be lost to urban expansion

Rio Conventions Pavilion TV, CBD COP11 (12/10/2012) Thomas Elmqvist, Professor in natural resource management at the University of Stockholm, describes the biodiversity challenges and opportunities faced in a rapidly urbanising world.

Elmqvist explains that 50% of the global population currently live in cities and this figure could rise to as much as 70% in a couple of decades. He argues that this will create many challenges but also opportunities in how we manage biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Elmqvist is attending the CBD COP11 to deliver a report on biodiversity in cities requested at CBD COP10 two years ago.

Elmqvist says that the report is about far more than biodiversity in cities, however: he asserts that urbanisation has an impact far beyond the city limits. Over the next couple of decades, Elmqvist states that urban expansion will claim an area of land the size of South Africa, much of this being prime agricultural land – which will be sorely missed as population rises and demand for food increases.

This is why Elmqvist believes urban expansion must be done in a sustainable way, in which case he asserts that human wellbeing and the quality of our urban natural environment could be vastly improved.