Biodiversity Loss Affects Human Health – Study

24 April 2008: According to a new book, a new generation of medical treatments may be lost unless the current rate of biodiversity loss is reversed. The book, Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity, was supported by UNEP, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Development Programme and IUCN, and was edited and written by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, from Harvard Medical School, along with more than 100 contributing scientists.

On the occasion of the book's release, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said “Habitat loss, destruction and degradation of ecosystems, pollution, over-exploitation and climate change are among the powerful and persistent impacts that are running down the planet's nature-based capital, including the medical treasure trove of the world's biodiversity.”

Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the UN Development Programme, said “People everywhere, and particularly the rural poor, depend on biodiversity for food, fuel, shelter, medicines and livelihoods. Unless we can slow down the rapid extinction rate, which is currently being greatly accelerated by climate change, biodiversity loss will seriously jeopardize our prospects for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”

UNEP press release, 24 April 2008:

Harvard Medical School Sustaining Life website:

Oxford University Press: