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ENVIRONMENT: UN declares 2011-2020 as International Decade for Biodiversity

Sep 12, 2014, 1:28 PM

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011-2020 as the ‘International Decade for Biodiversity’.

Biodiversity provides humankind with food, fuel, medicine, shelter and a cultural and spiritual connection to nature.

In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment studied the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being, delivering a state-of-the-art appraisal of the trends in the world’s ecosystems, the services they provide as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.

Therefore, forming BAJ-Gambia, an environmental and natural resources professional journalists organisation established in December 2010, with technical support from Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, is in line with the UN resolution.

The idea came about after a study tour to Senegal by Abdou Rahman Sallah, BAJ-Gambia National Coordinator, through a project called ‘Niumi-Saloum Transboundary Biosphere project’.

The United Nations has called upon its specialised agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and civil society everywhere to act to protect biodiversity as the natural wealth that exists in life on earth.

For the UNDP, one of the foundations for sustainable human development is by acknowledging the importance biodiversity and ecosystems play in sustaining the livelihoods of local communities.

This can be achieved by demonstrating the crucial services provided by ecosystems, and in making a social and economic case for investing in and maintaining these vital services.

As the financial mechanism for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the overall goal of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for biodiversity for the GEF5 period, running from 2010 to 2014, is “the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem goods and services”.

In order to support this goal, the SGP seeks to “improve the sustainability of protected area systems”, as well as to “mainstream biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into production landscapes/seascapes and sectors”.

Since its launch worldwide in 1992, the GEF-SGP has funded practical, hands-on, demonstration projects and grassroots initiatives by NGOs, CBOs and indigenous people, which promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity targeting ecosystems and landscapes.

As of mid-2012, SGP programming for biodiversity has supported more than 7,800 community-based biodiversity projects, totalling $185 million, leveraging a further $139 million in cash co-financing, and $137 million in kind contributions.

In the process, approximately 1.9 million hectares of globally significant biodiversity areas have been protected or sustainably managed by NGO, CBO and indigenous peoples.

Eligible SGP activities are restricted to insitu conservation of species, and cannot supportex situ initiatives outside their natural habitats (i.e. botanical gardens, zoos, or museums).

All SGP biodiversity projects are expected to be located in geographic areas that contain globally significant biodiversity, and/or have focused on reducing threats to biodiversity identified within the SGP Country Programme Strategy which address the following key questions:

Numerous SGP country programmes have contributed to improve community-level actions and practices, and reduced negative impacts on biodiversity resources in and around PAs and ICCAs.

The SGP works closely with the global ICCA Consortium, developed through the work of various IUCN Commissions, as well as the global ICCA Registry hosted by UNEP-WCMC, which is also responsible for the World Database on Protected Areas.

Pilot initiatives are also underway to develop SGP projects supporting the sustainable use of biodiversity and Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) arrangements under the Nagoya Protocol, as well as the Inter-Governmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) created in March 2012.

In the area of agro-biodiversity and production landscapes/seascapes, SGP supports initiatives on improved community-level sustainable use of biodiversity through community-based initiatives, frameworks and market mechanisms, including recognised environmental standards (organic certification, fair trade, rainforest alliance, bird friendly), as well as for the conservation of genetic resources important to agriculture covered by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic resources important for food and agriculture.

In most countries, SGP has also contributed significantly to increased understanding and awareness of the sustainable use of biodiversity through work with youth and schools.

Typical SGP activities in production landscapes have included ecosystem protection through pollination, seed dispersal and pest control; maintenance of traditional knowledge (TK), innovations and practices; integration of set-asides for biodiversity protection in compatible agroforestry and silvo-pastoral systems; promotion of seed banks and community biodiversity registers; improved effectiveness of traditional farming systems for conservation of locally-adapted landraces in Vavilov Centers; as well as conservation of neglected crop and fodder species.

Some key SGP partnerships in the biodiversity focal area include COMPACT; support to small producer organizations with the UNDP Green Commodities facility; Conservation International Verde Ventures programme; the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research; Indigenous Partnership for Agro-biodiversity and Food Sovereignty; Progresso Network; and the International Union of Ethical Bio-trade.

The SGP also collaborates closely with the secretariat of the CBD in relation to Biodiversity for Local Livelihoods; the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA), the Green Wave Initiative; support to indigenous peoples and protection of traditional knowledge and practices (Article 8j); customary use (Article 10c); as well as the joint programme of work with UNESCO regarding the links between biological and cultural diversity.