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Urgent Action Needed to Safeguard Saint Lucia’s Biodiversity

Climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Wildlife conservationists consider it to be one of the most striking parrots of its kind. Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by its bright green plumage, purple forehead and dusty red-tipped feathers. But a major conservation organisation is warning that climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, including the parrot.

Sean Southey chairs the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

He told IPS that urgent action is needed to safeguard the eastern Caribbean island nation’s biodiversity, which is under constant threat.

“With climate change, countries like St. Lucia [experience] significant weather events. The increase in hurricanes, the increase in bad weather and mudslides – these are incredible consequences of climate change,” Southey said.

“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags,” Sean Southey, chair of the Commission on Education and Communication.

Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else.

Other species of conservation concern include the pencil cedar, staghorn coral and St. Lucia racer. The racer, confined to the nine-hectare island of Maria Major, is thought to be the world’s most threatened sake.

Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands, Southey said.

But he said it was not too late to take action, and he urged St. Lucia and its Caribbean neighbours to take advantage of their small size.

“The smallness of islands allows for real society to get involved. What it means is helping people connect to the environment,” Southey said.

“It means that they need to know and feel and appreciate that their individual behaviours make a difference. Especially the biodiversity decisions [like] land use planning. If you are going to sell your family farm, do you sell for another commercial tourist resort, do you sell it to make a golf course or do you sell it to [produce] organic bananas? These are the type of individual decisions that people have to make that protect an island or hurt an island,” he said.

Southey added that thoughtful management of mangroves and effective management of shorelines, “can create natural mechanisms that allow you to cushion and protect society from the effects of climate change.”

St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

The CEC chair said recent extreme weather events have forced people in the Caribbean to understand climate change more than inhabitants from other countries in the world do.

“If you’re over the age of 30 in the Caribbean, you’ve seen a change in weather patterns. It’s not a story that you hear on the news, it’s a reality that you feel during hurricane season every year. So I believe there is an understanding,” he said.

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through many of St. Lucia’s neighbouring islands, including Barbuda.

The category five hurricane wreaked havoc on Barbuda’s world-famous frigate bird colony. Most of the 10,000-frigate bird population disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed the mangroves in which they nest and breed.

While many countries in the Caribbean are working on building natural barriers and nature-based solutions in response to climate change, Southey still believes there needs to be a greater strengthening of that sense that people can actually do something to contribute.

Reducing plastic waste

In June 2016, Antigua took the lead in the Caribbean with a ban on the commercial use of plastic bags.

The island’s environment and health minister Molwyn Joseph said the decision was made in a bid to reduce the volume of plastic bags that end up in the watercourses and wetlands.

“We are giving our mangroves a fighting chance to be a source of healthy marine life, that can only benefit us as a people,” he said.

Antigua also became the first country within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the second within the Caribbean Community, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Nagoya Protocol provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.

On Jul. 3 this year, one of the Caribbean’s largest supermarket chains launched a campaign to discourage the use of single use plastic bags for bagging groceries at its checkout counters, while actively encouraging customers to shop with reusable bags as a more eco-friendly option.

Managing director of Massy Stores St. Lucia Martin Dorville said the company is focused on finding more permanent solutions to reducing plastic waste and its own demand for plastic bags.

He said the decision to encourage customers to use less plastic was bold, courageous and will help manage the adverse impacts of single use plastic on the environment.

“I am very thrilled that one of the number one supermarkets has decided to ban all plastic bags. It’s a small behaviour but it helps everyone realise that their individual actions make a difference,” Southey told IPS.

“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags, so I was very appreciative of that. But what I really liked is that when I spent over USD100, they gave me a recyclable bag as a bonus to encourage me to use that as an individual so that my behaviour can make a difference,” he said.

He added that if school children could understand the importance of mangroves and complex eco-systems and the need to protect forests, wildlife and endangered birds “then I think we can make a huge difference.”

Credit: Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency

12 countries ratify access and benefit-sharing treaty

UN Decade on Biodiversity

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization will enter into force on 12 October 2014 following its ratification by 51 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

In the last weeks, 12 countries have deposited their instruments including Belarus, Burundi, Gambia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Peru, Sudan, Switzerland, Vanuatu, Uganda, and today, Uruguay. Its entry into force will mean that the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol can now be held from 13 to 17 October 2014, concurrently with the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea.

Ratification of the Nagoya Protocol by 51 Parties to the CBD represents a major step towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 16, which states that, “by 2015, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.”

The entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol will provide greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources, creating a framework that promotes the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge while strengthening the opportunities for fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use. Hence, the Protocol will create new incentives to conserve biodiversity, sustainably use its components, and further enhance the contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development and human well-being.

“Practical tools such as the Nagoya Protocol are critical for the sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity. I commend the Member States that have ratified this important international legal instrument. By fulfilling the promise made at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, they have made a significant contribution to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda,” said Mr. Ban Ki­moon, United Nations Secretary-General.

H.E. Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment, Forests & Climate Change of India, said: “The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing translates and gives practical effect to the equity provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity. I am happy that this landmark treaty received the requisite number of ratifications during India’s Presidency of the Conference of Parties for its entry into force. I congratulate my counterparts for making this happen. A new era is now ushered in for implementation of CBD that would contribute to achieving sustainable development and a glorious future for all living beings inhabiting our mother Earth.”

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary for the Convention on Biological Diversity, said, “The Nagoya Protocol is central to unleashing the power of biodiversity for sustainable development by creating incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity while guaranteeing equity in the sharing of benefits.”

“Entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol means not only a big step towards achieving Aichi Target 16, but is an important step in mainstreaming biodiversity into sustainable development. I congratulate all Parties who have ratified the Protocol, and I invite others to do so in time to participate in the first meeting of the COP-MOP, in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea,” he concluded.

The following Parties have now ratified or acceded to the landmark treaty: Albania, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, European Union, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Norway, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Samoa, the Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. While the European Union will be a Party to the Protocol, its approval of the Protocol does not count towards the 50 instruments required for entry into force.

Further information on becoming a Party to the Protocol is available at: http://www.cbd.int/abs/becoming-party/

Information about the Protocol, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found at:

http://www.cbd.int/abs/about/default.shtml

Notes to Editors

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization was adopted at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2010, in Nagoya, Japan, and significantly advances the objective of the Convention on the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources by providing greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources. By promoting the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and by strengthening the opportunities for fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use, the Protocol will create incentives to conserve biodiversity, sustainably use its components, and further enhance the contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development and human well-being. The full text of the Nagoya Protocol is available at: http://www.cbd.int/abs/doc/protocol/nagoya­protocol-en.pdf.The list of signatories of the Nagoya Protocol is available at: http://www.cbd.int/abs/nagoya­protocol/signatories/.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 194 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a supplementary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 166 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit: http://www.cbd.int.

For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at david.ainsworth@cbd.int; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at johan.hedlund@cbd.int 

Credit: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 

Call for nominations for the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards 2015

Ramsar Convention On Wetlands

Ramsar Convention On Wetlands

The Ramsar Convention is the lead implementation partner for the Convention on Biological Diversity regarding wetlands. The Ramsar Secretariat invites you to consider nominating individuals, organizations, or initiatives for the Ramsar Convention Wetlands Awards for 2015 as per the criteria below.

The Ramsar Convention Secretariat has launched a call for nominations for the sixth edition of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards, which will be presented at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in June 2015.

Three Awards will be given – each with the Evian Special Prize of US$10,000 kindly offered by the DANONE Group – in the following categories:

a) The Ramsar Convention Award for Wetland Wise Use

b) The Ramsar Convention Award for Wetland Innovation

c) The Ramsar Convention Award for Young Wetland Champions

The Ramsar Secretariat invites you to consider suitable individuals, organizations, or initiatives that could be nominated, as well as to disseminate this call widely within their network, so as to attract as many good nominations as possible.

For more information regarding the Criteria and Procedures for the Award, nomination forms, as well as on previous editions of the Awards please consult the Ramsar web site: http://www.ramsar.org/Ramsar-Award/

The deadline for the receipt of nominations is 15 July 2014. Nominations should be sent to the Ramsar Secretariat.

The text of this notification is also available on the CBD website at: http://www.cbd.int/doc/notifications/2014/ntf-2014-066-wetland-en.pdf

Credit: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, UNEP

Four new ratifications edge landmark genetic resources treaty closer to entering into force

Credit: Google IMages

Credit: Google IMages

With four new ratifications in the last week, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization has received 66% of the necessary ratifications, with only 17 more ratifications needed for it to enter into force. Ratifications by Guyana, Hungary, Kenya and Vietnam bring to 33 the total number of ratifications to the ground-breaking treaty under the umbrella of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“These ratifications by Guyana, Hungary, Kenya and Vietnam suggest the momentum is rapidly building towards entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol in time for the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention, to be hosted by the Republic of Korea in October 2014,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary. “It is important that we maintain and quicken this pace of ratifications, as the early entry into force of the Protocol will also mean achieving Aichi Target 16. I encourage all countries that have yet to do so to take the necessary steps needed to ratify the Protocol.”

Guyana becomes the first Caribbean state; Hungary the first European Union member state and second Central and Eastern Europe state; Kenya the second African mega-diverse country and fourteenth African state; and, Vietnam the twelfth Asian country, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol. Their support underlines the global recognition of the importance of this instrument for obtaining access to genetic resources and for sharing benefits arising from their use.

The Nagoya Protocol will enter into force on the 90th day after the date of deposit of the 50th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Guyana, Hungary, Kenya and Vietnam join Albania, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mauritius, Mexico, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Norway, Panama, Rwanda, the Seychelles, South Africa, the Syrian Arab Republic and Tajikistan are the countries that have ratified or acceded to the landmark treaty so far.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as part of his message for the 2013 International Day for Biological Diversity called “on all Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity who have not already done so, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and therefore help us all to work toward the future we want.” His statement of support follows on his letter to all Heads of State/Government highlighting the valuable contribution that the Protocol can make to sustainable development and urging ratification at the earliest opportunity so that the international community can move to the implementation phase.

In a January 2014 joint letter addressed to all CBD Parties, M. Veerappa Moily, COP 11 President and Minister of Environment and Forests, India, and CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias expressed the hope that countries could finalize their internal processes towards the ratification or accession of the Nagoya Protocol as soon as possible but no later than 7 July 2014.

Earlier, a December 2013 United Nations General Assembly resolution (A/RES/68/214) invited Parties to the Convention to ratify or accede to the Nagoya Protocol so as to ensure its early entry into force and implementation.

Further information on how to become a Party to the Protocol is available at: http://www.cbd.int/abs/becomingparty/

The Nagoya Protocol was adopted at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2010, in Nagoya, Japan, and significantly advances the objective of the Convention on the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources by providing greater legal certainty and
 transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources. By promoting the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and by strengthening the opportunities for fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use, the Protocol will create incentives to conserve biodiversity, sustainably use its components, and further enhance the contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development and human well-being.

The full text of the Nagoya Protocol is available at: http://www.cbd.int/abs/doc/protocol/nagoya-protocol-en.pdf

The list of signatories of the Nagoya Protocol is available at: http://www.cbd.int/abs/nagoyaprotocol/signatories/

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety is a subsidiary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 166 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit: www.cbd.int.

For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at
david.ainsworth@cbd.int; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at johan.hedlund@cbd.int

Credit: United Nations Decade on Biodiversity

Donors replenish Global Environmental Facility, but biodiversity is still underfunded

Global-Environmental-Facility

US$4.43 billion has been pledged by 30 donor countries for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support developing countries’ efforts over the next four years to prevent degradation of the global environment.

The announcement, made at the Fourth Meeting for the Sixth Replenishment of GEF Trust Fund, held in Geneva, Switzerland, 16-17 April 2014, further stated that the funding will support projects in over 140 countries to tackle a broad range of threats to the global environment. These threats include climate change, deforestation, land degradation, extinction of species, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to oceans and freshwater resources.

The GEF is the main global mechanism to support developing countries’ to take action to fulfill their commitments under the world’s major multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“This is a significant development. We welcome the efforts of the GEF Secretariat and the commitments of donor governments to replenish the GEF capital and thus allow the GEF to continue to serve as the financial mechanism of the CBD and other MEAs,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary. “This will ensure that the GEF maintains its support for developing countries and countries with economies in transitions to support the implementation of their commitments under the CDB, in particular the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for 2011-2020 and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans and associated national targets.”

“However, this still serves as a reminder that donor countries failed to fulfil the target set at the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) in Hyderabad, India, to double the international financial flows by 2015 relative to the 2006-2010 average,” underlined Dias.

“This means that we have missed the opportunity to significantly increase the investment on biodiversity to increase the efforts for achieving the implementation of the Aichi Targets,” said Mr. Dias. “This limited effort of multilateral funding, which represents a 30% increase over the baseline of 2006-2010, puts undue pressure on bilateral funding, domestic funding and private funding to compensate for this shortcoming to meet the estimated funding gap if we hope to achieve the agreed Aichi Targets by 2020,” he said.

The conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity can provide solutions to a range of societal challenges. For example, protecting ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services by poor and vulnerable groups are an essential part of poverty eradication.

Failing to pay due attention to the global biodiversity agenda risks compromising the capacity of countries to eradicate poverty and to enhance human well-being, as well as their means to adapt to climate change, reduce their vulnerability to extreme natural disasters, to ensure food security, to ensure access to water and to promote access to health.

“Without adequate funding for the global biodiversity agenda the continual availability of biological resources and ecosystems services will be compromised and impact the capacity of the business sector to continue to operate and supply the market with products, services and employment,” said Mr. Dias. “I encourage all countries to ramp up their contributions complementary to the GEF Trust Fund to ensure a better and more sustainable future for us all.”

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties up to now, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is a subsidiary agreement to the Convention. It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 166 countries plus the European Union have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. For more information visit: http://www.cbd.int.

For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at david.ainsworth@cbd.int; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at johan.hedlund@cbd.int

Credit: United Nations Decade on Biodiversity
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