The UN biodiversity meeting in Japan has agreed a 10-year plan aimed at preserving nature.
Targets for protecting areas of land and sea were weaker than conservation scientists wanted, as was the overall target for slowing biodiversity loss.
Most developing countries were pleased with measures aimed at ensuring they get a share in profits from products made from plants and other organisms.
Nations have two years to draw up plans for funding the plan.
“This agreement reaffirms the fundamental need to conserve nature as the very foundation of our economy and our society,” said Jim Leape, director-general of WWF International.
“Governments have sent a strong message that protecting the health of the planet has a place in international politics, and countries are ready to join forces to save life on Earth.”
The meeting settled on targets of protecting 17% of the world’s land surface, and 10% of the oceans, by 2020.
These are regarded as too small by many conservation scientists, who point out that about 13% of the land is already protected – while the existing target for oceans is already 10%.
Many poorer countries say they do not have the resources to implement such targets.
“The forest and the other biological resources we have serve the general interests of the global environment,” said Johansen Voker from Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency.
“So we expect assistance to be able to effectively conserve our environment for the common good of the world community.”
Developed nations agreed to establish mechanisms for raising finance to help them – which could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year by 2020.
They are required to have a plan to raise such sums in place by 2012, when Brazil will host the second Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The sums might appear astronomical – particularly when you recall that governments are already committed to raising $100bn (