London, England (CNN) -- A deal to protect the world's ecosystems over the next decade has been agreed by the United Nations at the biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan.
Delegates from more than 190 countries debated into the early hours of Saturday morning to finalize the agreement of a 20-point Strategic Plan aimed at curbing losses in biodiversity which have accelerated in recent years.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity said: "History will recall that it was here in Nagoya that a new era of living in harmony was born and new global alliance to protect life on earth was established."
Jane Smart, director of International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Biodiversity Conservation Group, told CNN: "I think governments have gone out of their way to show a spirit of compromise and flexibility in order to reach these agreements.
"Many countries made it very clear that they didn't entirely agree with everything but they were going to go on for the sake of the agenda."
Under the agreed protocol, governments have committed to protecting 17 percent of land and 10 percent of the world's oceans by 2020.
Smart says the figure for land protection is "a little low." Many countries, she says, have already achieved the figure and that 13 percent of land globally is already protected.
But she said the target for oceans was a "fantastic result," considering that only one percent of the world's oceans are protected at present.
"10 percent by 2020 is the right kind of challenge," Smart said.
Jim Leape, director general of environmental group WWF International, called the deal a "historic achievement."
"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," he said.
Long-standing disagreements between richer nations and the developing world on the equitable sharing of the genetic resources -- the Access and Benefit Sharing protocol (ABS) -- were also overcome in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Developing nations -- including Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador -- all expressed concerns that the ABS protocol had "suffered many changes" during two weeks of discussions and was "substantially diminished," denying them a proper share of profit from their countries' natural resources.
"I think they have got a pretty good deal. I think if they hadn't, they would not have agreed to everything, and they made that very, very clear," Smart said.
She believes the agreement in Nagoya will afford scientists and governments a better platform from which to get their message across to the public.
"Many people understand how beautiful nature is, but they do not understand that nature is in desperate trouble and they don't understand that they depend on nature for their whole life.
"Our whole economic structure depends on nature and this isn't realized. Now, with renewed vigor and energy we can take this plan, put it into life and really get this message across to the general public," Smart said.
Andrew Deutz, director of international relations at The Nature Conservancy said in a statement: "By adopting this new treaty and global goals for conservation, the conference has overcome the curse of Copenhagen [at the U.N.'s 2009 climate change summit] and demonstrated that the multilateral system can deliver real results for nature and for people."