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World Day to Combat Desertification

UN Decade on Biodiversity

The land under our feet is ancient. Minerals and organic material have mixed together over decades, if not centuries and millennia, to provide the bed upon which our food is grown. The plants which grow in this soil are not only the basis for food and fibre they are also contribute to our supply of clean water and are a storage place for carbon. Land is the key for life and livelihoods today.

As the global population increases in the years to come, and as climate change affects the availability of water, with consequences for water and food security, land will become even more important. Dry lands hold a significant proportion of the world’s soil carbon stock, and land degradation contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable land management is therefore a key climate change mitigation strategy.

Biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management will be critical for managing our ecosystems so that they can support improved water security for food production as well as being more resilient to climate change.

Ecosystem-based adaptation, which integrates biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall adaptation strategy, can be cost-effective and generate social, economic and cultural co-benefits. This approach can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity while providing climate change adaptation benefits.

The Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held 2010 in Japan, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which provide a framework for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration and sustainable land management.

In particular, I would like to highlight Aichi Biodiversity Target 15 which calls for the enhancement of the resilience of ecosystems and the restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification. Also relevant are: Target 5 which aims that by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced; Target 7, which calls for areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry to be managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity; and, Target 14, which aims that by 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities and the poor and vulnerable.

As sister Rio Conventions, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification have many areas of convergence, the most significant being the work to conserve, restore and sustainably utilize dry-land ecosystems. In fact, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets provide strong bases for implementing the synergies between the two Conventions at the national level.

As we prepare to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification let us strive for sustainable strategies that integrate the management of land, water and biodiversity through sustaining ecosystem services. In this way we can combat desertification, help adapt to climate change and achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

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

Indoor Mini-Farms to Beat Climate Change

Industrial engineer Ancel Bhagwandeen says growing your food indoor is a great way to protect crops from the stresses of climate change. So he developed a hydroponic system that “leverages the nanoclimates in houses so that the house effectively protects the produce the same way it protects us,” he says.

Bhagwandeen told IPS that his hydroponic project was also developed “to leverage the growth of the urban landscape and high-density housing, so that by growing your own food at home, you mitigate the cost of food prices.”

The hydroponic unit can also run on solar energy. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

The hydroponic unit can also run on solar energy. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

Hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrients in water, is increasingly considered a viable means to ensure food security in light of climate change.

His project is one of several being considered for further development by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC), headquartered in Jamaica.

The newly launched CCIC, which is funded mainly by the World Bank and the government of Canada, seeks to  fund innovative projects that will “change the way we live, work and build to suit a changing climate,” said Everton Hanson, the CCIC’s CEO.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, 
chairs the CCIC's Management Committee.

A first step to developing such projects is through Proof of Concept (POC) funding, which makes available grants from 25,000 to 50,000 dollars to successful applicants to “help the entrepreneur to finance those costs that are related to proving that the idea can work,” said Hanson.

Among the items that POC funding will cover are prototype development such as design, testing, and field trials; market testing; raw materials and consumables necessary to achieve proof of concept; and costs related to applications for intellectual property rights in the Caribbean.

A POC competition is now open that will run until the end of March. “After that date the applications will be evaluated. We are looking for ideas that can be commercialised and the plan is to select the best ideas,” Hanson said.

The CCIC, which is jointly managed by the Scientific Research Council in Jamaica and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute in Trinidad and Tobago, is seeking projects that focus on water management, resource use efficiency, energy efficiency, solar energy, and sustainable agribusiness.

Bhagwandeen entered the POC competition in hopes of securing a grant, because “this POC funding would help in terms of market testing,” he explained.

The 48-year-old engineer says he wishes to build dozens of model units and “distribute them in various areas, then monitor the operations and take feedback from users.” He said he would be testing for usability and reliability, as well as looking for feedback on just how much light is needed and the best locations in a house or building for situating his model.

“I would then take the feedback, and any issues that come up I can refine before going into mass marketing,” he said.

Bhagwandeen’s model would enable homeowners to grow leafy vegetables, including herbs, lettuce and tomatoes, inside their home or apartment, with minimal expense and time.

The model uses smart electronics, meaning that 100 units can run on the same energy as a 60-watt light bulb, he said. So it differs from typical hydroponics systems that consume a great deal of energy, he added. His model can also run on the energy provided by its own small solar panel and can work both indoors and outdoors.

Bhagawandeen said his model’s design is premised on the fact that “our future as a people is based more and more on city living and in order for that to be sustainable, we need to have city farming at a family level.”

U.N. report says that “the population living in urban areas is projected to gain 2.6 billion, passing from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050.” Most of that urban growth will be concentrated in the cities and towns of the world’s less developed regions.

To meet the challenges of climate change adaptation, the CCIC “will support Caribbean entrepreneurs involved in developing locally appropriate solutions to climate change.”

Bhagwandeen said that support from organisations like the CCIC is critical for climate change entrepreneurs. “From the Caribbean perspective, especially Trinidad and Tobago, we are a heavily consumer-focused society. One of the negatives of Trinidad’s oil wealth is that we are not accustomed to developing technology for ourselves. We buy it.”

“We are a society of traders and distributors and there is very little support for innovators and entrepreneurs.”

He said access to markets and investors poses a serious challenge for regional innovators like himself, who typically have to rely on bootstrapping to get their business off the ground.

Typically, he said, regional innovators have to make small quantities of an item, sell those items, and then use the funds to make incrementally larger quantities. “So that if you get an order for 500 units, you cannot fulfill that order,” he said.

Fourteen Caribbean states are involved in CCIC: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean CCIC is one of eight being developed across the world.

Credit: Inter Press Services News Agency

ICCS3 participants tour Mafoota–contemplate need for climate services

Read 3rd International Conference on Climate Services Underway in Jamaica for updates

On Tuesday afternoon, Elvis Grey of the Jamaican Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) led a “learning journey” of about 35 conference participants to Mafoota, a small farming community in St. James Parish, just outside of Montego Bay. The journey was funded by the CGIAR’s research program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS)

Visiting the farms, which are organized in a cooperative and supply the nearby hotel sector, served as a good reminder of the motivation behind the development and implementation of climate services.

Farms in Mafoota mainly produce vegetables including romaine lettuce, cabbage, sweet potato, yam, bananas, plantains, and callaloo.  Farms are fed in part by an irrigation system, though drought and flood are both challenges posed by a variable climate.

Please take a look at the below for a look at the afternoon’s trip.

Credit: Climate Services Partnership Blog

5Cs supports the Caribbean’s first ‘National Consultation on a Framework for Climate Services’

Climate Services

Filipe Lucio (left), Head of the GFCS, WMO, and Dr Ulric Trotz (right), Deputy Director, CCCCC

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) supported the region’s first National Consultation on a Framework for Climate Services in Belize last week (October 30- November 1, 2013). The consultation, organized in association with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the National Meteorological Service of Belize, and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), sought to advance the priorities under the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) by  focusing on:

  • Assessing climate services needs in the agriculture and food security sector based on
    generated climate information in the country;
  • Recommending effective mechanisms and practices to improve interfacing and interactionsbetween climate service providers and users;
  • Articulating the capacity building needs in terms of mandates, infrastructure and human
    resources for all the components of GFCS;
  • Recommending actions to improve productions, sustainable operations and accessibility for
    climate predictions and services to aid the flow of climate information from global and 
    regional scale to national and local scales;
  • Charting a roadmap for the effective development and application of climate services in support of agriculture and food security and other climate sensitive sectors in Belize,particularly water, which is of strategic import to the Agricultural Sector of theCaribbean Region.

The consultation brought together key decision-makers and users from the initial four priority areas under the GFCS: agriculture and food security, water, health and disaster risk reduction. It identified suitable mechanisms for improving and sustaining the flow of climate information to users with particular focus on agriculture and food security. The exercise also sought to enhance understanding of the need for climate services on sectors most impacted by climate change that can be implemented at the national level across the Caribbean.

The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) was established in 2009 at the World Climate Conference-3, which was organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in collaboration with other United Nations (UN) agencies, governments and partners to steer the development of climate services worldwide.

The vision of the GFCS is to enable society to better manage the risks and opportunities arising from climate variability and change, especially for those who are most vulnerable to such risks.

The GFCS, which was launched in the Caribbean in May 2013, use five components for the production, delivery and application of climate information and services in the four priority areas outlined:

  • User Interface Platform
  • Climate Services Information System
  • Observations and Monitoring
  • Research, Modelling and Prediction
  • Capacity Development

The next National Consultation on a Framework for Climate Services will be held in Barbados.

FAO Hosts GHG Emissions Statistics Workshop in Trinidad

Roundtable 1The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre participated in the recently concluded  (June 3-4, 2013) Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) Statistics Workshop in Port of Spain. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) event was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Resources for Latin American countries. This was the second of a series of regional workshops being undertaken by the FAO to raise awareness of the importance of agricultural statistics for the preparation of GHG inventories and the development of national mitigation strategies to improve agricultural productivity, food security and environmental sustainability.

Representatives of the FAO delivered presentations on agriculture and climate change, emissions from the agriculture sector and the data required for estimating these emissions. They also presented the FAO project, Monitoring and Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Potential in Agriculture (MAGHG). The activities of the project include the development of an online agriculture, forestry and land use emissions database (FAOSTAT). The database contains the emissions from all FAO Members in these sectors from 1990 to 2010 using the IPCC 2006 methodology. Further developments in FAOSTAT will include emission projections to 2050.  Representatives of the IPCC Task Force on Inventories (TFI) presented on the use of the IPCC 2006 GHG Inventories software. Representatives of Brazil, and Ecuador presented on their national experiences in developing national  GHG inventory processes.

The workshop included interactive roundtables on climate change, mitigation and adaptation, the requirements of countries to develop inventories in the agriculture sector, and the resolution of problems to improve national GHG Inventory systems especially in light of the UNFCCC decision on biennial update reports (BUR). In Doha, COP 18 decided that countries should provide biennial update reports of their GHG inventories to supplement the inventories in their National Communications.

The representatives of the FAO and the IPCC agreed that a similar workshop could be delivered to the Members of CARICOM upon their request. The Centre will undertake consultations with the climate change authorities in these countries..

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