In December 2016 the UN Biodiversity Conference took place in Cancun, Mexico. Representatives from 167 countries reached agreement on steps needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and to integrate a commitment to biodiversity into the tourism, forestry, fisheries and agriculture sectors.
The Conference Declaration states that “Biodiversity offers solutions to the pressing development and societal challenges that the world community is currently facing”, and makes 18 commitments aimed towards incorporating a recognition of the essential part that it plays across all sectors and all levels of government.
These commitments include updating and implementing national strategies and action plans, improving the regulatory framework for private sector activities, enhancing incentives and promoting tools for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
“The agriculture sectors and biodiversity have often been regarded as separate and even conflicting concerns, yet they are inextricably connected. Agriculture is by nature a major user of biodiversity, but it also has the potential to contribute to its protection,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, stating that this was a turning point.
Biodiversity Guidance Issued
The guidance for mainstream conservation issued within the Conference Declaration declares that “Biodiversity is the basis of agriculture as it is at the origin of all crops and domesticated livestock and the variety among them”, and among the 12 specific points concerned with agriculture, crops and livestock are commitments on the effective management and conservation of pollinators, the prevention of agricultural pollution and the promotion of the use of biodiversity in controlling or reducing the number of pests and diseases.
Also included is guidance which recognises the importance of the conservation and protection of native varieties, locally adapted breeds and underutilised species including those threatened by intensification of production.
New Biodiversity Platform
The Cancun meeting also welcomed the launch by FAO of a new biodiversity platform which is aimed at facilitating cross-sector dialogue. The platform aims to identify areas of shared interest and then build bridges between sectors. Sectors that depend or have an impact on biodiversity will be encouraged to adopt an integrated approach towards conservation and sustainable use by sharing experiences, identifying synergies and aligning goals.
Speaking after governments followed through on the commitments made in the Cancun Declaration in a ministerial meeting, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity, said that “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.”
Welcoming the Cancun Declaration, Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Environment Facility, applauded “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.”
She went on to say that “The GEF, as the financial mechanism of the convention, is proud to have been confirmed in its critical role to support countries to meet their commitments under the Convention and its Protocols. We also feel 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 innovative and creating financing opportunities.”
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