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COP 11 national preparatory meeting underway

Sep 28, 2012, 10:57 AM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

The eleventh meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 11), the governing body of the Convention on Biological Diversity, will take place in Hyderabad, India, from 8 to 19 October 2012 including the High Level Ministerial segment.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (DPWM), the lead government agency responsible for the implementation of the Convention and other partner institutions, yesterday gathered at the Baobab Holiday Resort for the preparation of the Gambian delegation to the event.

COP 11 will be a key meeting to ensure the convention maintains momentum behind the implementation of the Strategic Plan and Nagoya Protocol.

Dr Arona Soumare, WWF director of conservation, said the WWF believes that the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi targets as well as the Nagoya Protocol represent an effective global roadmap to halt biodiversity loss by 2020.  He also commended Parties for their vision and commitment in adopting these decisions in 2010, as well as thanked the Government of The Gambia for giving political commitment to the convention.

Alpha Omar Jallow, in his remarks, said biodiversity is a complex issue that calls for the involvement of everyone in society.

Therefore, governments, non-governmental organizations, industries and even individual contributions must work together to conserve biodiversity and reserve ecosystem degradation.

A multiple approach, Jallow said, cannot only serve to underline the importance of biodiversity conservation, but also results in real action and progress.

He told his audience: “Your participation allows sharing of best practices and tools and promoting sector contributions to biodiversity conservation in The Gambia.”

He urged participants attending the national preparatory meeting to give ideas, share knowledge and opinions to delegates attending the COP 11, adding that government platform can realize issues concerning the nation.

Lamin Jawara, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Forestry and the Environment, expressed appreciation to WWF-WAMPO for helping The Gambia to strengthen the capacity of the country delegation for a fruitful representation towards achieving its targeted participation goal.

According to DPS Jawara, in 1992 over 150 governments signed the document at the Rio conference and since then more than 187 countries have ratified the agreement.

The convention, he said, has three main goals: the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of the components of biodiversity, and sharing the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.

The convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development; that is conceived as a practical tool for transforming the principles of Agenda 21 into reality.

According to him, the convention recognizes that biological diversity is  more than plants, animals and micro-organisms and their ecosystems; it is about people and their need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.

This, he added, is particularly important for such sectors as forestry, agriculture, fisheries, energy, transportation and urban planning.

“Promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity will be of growing importance for maintaining biodiversity in the years and decades to come,” said Jawara.

He said that attention to environmental problems was distracted by a series of economic crises, budge deficits, and local regional conflicts.

Alagie Manjang, WWF interim country programme director, who chaired the ceremony and presented a paper on WWF, welcomed stakeholders to the meeting, saying that since 1992, The Gambia has signed the convention.

However, the WWF is concerned that almost two years later there is little evidence of progress in meeting these commitments, said WWF document given to participants at the meeting.

“Today’s meeting is highly technical to prepare Gambian delegates attending the COP 11 conference, and I’m urging delegates representing The Gambia to participate fully during sessions,” he said.