'Species 2000' is the latest UN/World Bank venture to take an integrated look at the world's biodiversity. The current tally puts the total number of plants, animals, fungi and other microorganisms at about 13.5 million species; estimates had varied anywhere between seven to 20 million. The new venture proposes to create a unified data system covering all existing species and will provide species information to the signatory countries to the biodiversity convention. It will be spearheaded by Frank Bisby, leader of the biodiversity and bioinformatics research group in Southampton University's School of Biological Sciences in UK.

Things may just about look up for the beleaguered UN after the US decision to pay its dues to the world body for the current year. Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the UN announced at Norway on April 26 that her country, which owes more than US $1 billion to the UN, has voted to contribute its share for the 1996 fiscal year. However, attached to its decision to pay up is the condition that the UN must limit its spending to within a budget of US $2,608 billion for a period of two years.

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