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U.N. biodiversity convention opens in S. Korea

Some 20,000 government officials, environmentalists and businesspeople from around the world gathered in the eastern city of Pyeongchang on Monday for a U.N. environmental convention on biodiversity, the environment ministry said.

The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, dubbed COP 12, kicked off with a ceremony for a 19-day run, with about 20,000 representatives from 194 countries attending, the ministry said.

During the conference themed "Biodiversity for sustainable development," the participants will address agenda items that include a midterm evaluation of a 2011-2020 strategic plan for biodiversity and the application of the biodiversity goals to the post-2015 U.N. sustainable development goals.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), informally known as the Biodiversity Convention, was adopted at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNECD) held in Brazil in 1992 to address environmental problems facing the planet.

The multilateral treaty handling all aspects of biological diversity, including genetic resources, species and ecosystems, is one of the three U.N. conventions aimed at protecting the environment along with the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention to Combat Desertification.

Also to be held during the Pyeongchang conference is the 7th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Sept. 29-Oct. 3) and the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (Oct. 13-17).

The COP 12 will adopt a "Pyeongchang Road Map" that sets out ways to achieve U.N. sustainable development goals and a "Gangwon Declaration" containing the results of the conference.

The Gangwon Declaration is expected to include the South Korean government's interest in the preservation of biodiversity in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) located at the inter-Korean border.

"South Korea will make it an eco-friendly conference and a chance to enhance the value of preserving biological diversity in the world," said Kim Sang-hoon, director general of the Korean Secretariat of the U.N. Biodiversity Conference 2014.

"We expect this will be a good opportunity for Gangwon Province to increase the world's awareness of Pyeongchang, the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics in the province, and its capacity to host a large-scale international event ahead of the Olympics." (Yonhap)