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NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters Life!) - Actor and environmentalist Harrison Ford urged the United States on Tuesday to step up its role in protecting nature by ratifying a 1993 global convention on fighting plant and animal extinction.
Speaking on the sidelines of a U.N. meeting of nearly 200 countries in Japan, Ford said pressure on political leadership was needed to save forests, oceans and rivers that are home to nature's rich diversity of species underpinning livelihoods.
"We have to create a kind of undeniable groundswell of public opinion, a kind of movement-level effect, something like the Civil Rights Movement or the Women's Rights Movement," said Ford, vice-chairman of environmental group, Conservation International.
"One of the reasons I've come is because I want to urge the United States government to sign the treaty," he told Reuters in an interview in Nagoya, where environment ministers are aiming to set targets for 2020 to fight rising extinction rates.
The United States has signed but not ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity that went into in force in 1993, and is only taking part in the Oct 18-29 Nagoya talks as an observer.
Ford, who has had the ant species Pheidole harrisonfordi named after him in a nod to his work as a conservationist, said nature was indispensable to everyday lives.
"Nature provides us with fresh water, a way of healthy soils, foodstuffs, future pharmaceuticals and food crops," he said.
"We can't afford to create mechanisms to provide those services for ourselves that nature gives us for free when nature is healthy and protected."
Reporting by Chisa Fujioka