Scientific research has a crucial role to play in helping the EU to achieve its targets for the protection of biodiversity, according to EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. Speaking at a UNESCO conference on 'biodiversity, science and governance' in Paris on 24 January, Mr Dimas lamented the fact that widespread concern about the loss of global biodiversity has yet to result in a determined political effort to reverse the trend. 'Biodiversity - and the good and services it supplies - is essential to sustainable economic growth. [...] Let us be absolutely clear: protecting biodiversity means that governments will have to take difficult decisions where the benefits will only result in the longer-term,' said Mr Dimas. 'It is the job of politicians - and not just environment ministers - to have the political vision and courage to lead this effort. But - as the example of climate change shows - good politics is a lot easier if it can be based on good science,' he continued. 'I am not a scientific expert on biodiversity, but I am well aware that there are still substantial and critical gaps in our understanding of the living world. I have discussed this with my colleague, Janez Potocnik, the Commissioner for Science and Research, and we both strongly advocate a central role for research in achieving our biodiversity commitments for 2010 and beyond.' Mr Dimas made an appeal for adequate resources to be mobilised and for research efforts to be better integrated and structured at national, EU and global level. The Commissioner also added his voice to calls by European environment ministers for more funding to be made available for biodiversity research under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). 'The most important outcomes I would like to see from this conference are, first, recognition by governments of the need to build the scientific capacity to meet the biodiversity challenge - and the commitment of resources to back up this recognition. 'Second, a strong reciprocal commitment from the scientific community to speak out - and if possible to speak out with one voice. Like those who make the case for climate change we need to ensure that the messages are clear and are more effectively communicated,' stressed the Commissioner. Citizens will demand action once they have been better informed about what biodiversity loss actually means - economically, environmentally, ethically and emotionally - he added. 'It is the job of science to provide this information. And it is the responsibility of governments to act decisively upon it in order to protect our common natural heritage,' Mr Dimas concluded.