Governments Make Strong Commitments to Biodiversity, UN Says 

Human Wrongs Watch

19 December 2016 – Countries attending the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Mexico reached agreements on actions to integrate biodiversity in forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and tourism sectors and to achieve the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Butterflies in Mexico. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark | Source: UN News centre

The 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), also known as COP 13 saw governments from 167 countries agree upon a range of measures that are expected to accelerate the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by 2020, as well as generate action for protected areas, ecosystem restoration, sustainable wildlife management, and a range of other themes.

“Governments demonstrated their commitment to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and showed that the biodiversity agenda is central and essential to the global sustainable development and climate change agendas,” announced CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias as the conference nearly three week Conference wrapped up over the weekend in Cancun.

“With the integration of three meetings addressing the Convention and its two Protocols, the world community also realized the importance of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing in effectively contributing to the Targets and sustainable development,” he added.

Together, the protocols help to ensure that modern biotechnology and other uses of genetic resources are practiced safely and that they take into account potential adverse effects on biological diversity.

Countries who participated in the conference have committed to develop legislation, policies, and actions over the next four years that will support the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.


“We applaud and support the global community’s commitment made during this COP to integrate biodiversity considerations into the activities of other critical sectors of our economies: agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and tourism; and value its natural capital for sustainable development, as expressed in the Cancun Declaration,” said Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

She added that the GEF was “encouraged by the strong support of many donor and recipient countries to maintain consistency with our current biodiversity programming strategy with integrated approaches in response to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, while seeking out new innovation and creating financing opportunities.”

During the Conference, stakeholders deliberated about pollination management and its relationship to sustainable food production systems and agriculture, agreed to establish additional protected areas, reviewed opportunities to reverse biodiversity loss, and identified biologically significant marine areas to be protected.

Central to conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems are the contributions made by indigenous peoples and local communities, particularly with regards to their traditional knowledge.

This year’s Conference recognized this through Article 8(j) of the Convention, which obliges Parties to “respect, preserve, and maintain knowledge, innovations, and practices of indigenous and local communities” who support conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

COP 13 also included a decision to work with pledges from the Paris Agreement. Going forward, parties are to consider biodiversity as they undertake climate change mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction measures.

The Convention also reiterated the importance of reducing anthropogenic emissions and increasing the removal of greenhouse gases. (SOURCE: UN).

Countries urged to prioritize protection of pollinators to ensure food security 

Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are increasingly under threat from human activities and countries must transform their agricultural practices to ensure global crop production can meet demand and avoid substantial economic losses, the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity on 6 December 2016 – heard**.

A bee does its business in Kenya’s Kerio Valley. Photo: FAO/Dino Martins

“Pollinators affect all of us. The food that we eat like our fruits and vegetables, our coffee and chocolate, all rely on pollinators. However, pollinators are facing many challenges, from intensive agriculture, pesticides, climate change, which are putting a lot of pressure on them,” said Simon Potts Professor at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

Potts is the co-chair of a major report on pollinators being discussed in Cancun, Mexico, today at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), also known as COP 13.

“There are many solutions and policies that countries can adopt to protect pollinators, so the trick here in Cancun is for countries to take these ideas and really make them work,” he added.

According to the global assessment on pollinators produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 75 per cent of our food crops and nearly 90 per cent of wild flowering plants depend to some extent on animal pollination, which is the transfer of pollen between the male and female parts of flowers to enable fertilization and reproduction.

In addition, the annual value of global crops that depend on pollinators is estimated to be worth $577 billion.

Without pollinators, crops such as coffee, cacao and apples would drastically suffer, and changes in global crop supplies could increase prices to consumers and reduce profits to producers, resulting in a potential annual net loss of economic welfare of $160 billion to $191 billion globally.

Beyond food, pollinators also contribute directly to medicines, biofuels, fibres like cotton and linen, and construction materials.

“Pollination services are an ‘agricultural input’ that ensures the production of crops. All farmers, especially family farmers and smallholders around the world, benefit from these services,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the (FAO) in the report’s foreword.

“Improving pollinator density and diversity has a direct positive impact on crop yields, consequently promoting food and nutrition security. Hence, enhancing pollinator services is important for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as for helping family farmers’ adaptation to climate change.”

The majority of pollinator species are wild, including more than 20,000 species of bees, some species of flies, butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other vertebrates. Currently, 16 per cent of vertebrate pollinators, and more than 40 per cent of invertebrate pollinators, are facing global extinction.

The report, which was released earlier this year, offers a number of solutions to halt the decline in pollinators. Some of these include: the promotion of sustainable agriculture, creating greater diversity of pollinator habitats in agricultural and urban landscapes, crop rotation, using indigenous local knowledge and decreasing use of pesticides.

Recognizing that this is a pressing issue, 11 European countries have already announced a ‘Coalition of the willing’ at COP13, which seeks to implement national pollinator strategies, consistent with IPBES report and share new approaches, innovations and best practices, as well as establish new partnerships to safeguard these valuable creatures.(**SOURCE: UN).

2016 Human Wrongs Watch

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