Building Tools and Guidelines for Integration of Biodiversity into national planning process
In the last few months, the Africa Hub has been involved in developing tools and guidelines for integration of biodiversity into development documents such as national policies and planning processes. An expert in the field was brought in to review the overall status of biodiversity policy and integration in the national, regional and continental development strategies, plans and decision making processes.
The tools and guidelines support countries to integrate biodiversity into sectorial strategies and national plans and assess their effectiveness in Africa. It also provides a repertoire of lessons learnt and best practices in the integration of biodiversity into decision making processes, keeping in mind the African context. This is an important step in building capacity in dealing with biodiversity issues among the 49 African Union member states, which are the beneficiaries of the ACP MEAs programme.
The tools and guidelines seek to be a source for institutions and policy-makers, particularly in Africa, to guide them in building innovative strategies, policy options, and priority measures for the integration of biodiversity issues into national development and planning. (The tools and guidelines will be shared in the next newsletter.)
Support to African delegation ahead of the joint regional preparatory meeting for the CITES conference
The Africa Hub assisted Parties to the Conventions from the region in preparing for the respective meetings for the Conference of Parties for CITES held in September in Johannesburg as well as the recently-concluded UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 13) held in Cancun, Mexico in early December last year.
During the joint preparatory meeting, some of the main agendas on the item for African delegates included resource mobilization and financial mechanism, enhancement of capacity building, specifically technical and scientific cooperation.
A number of key outcomes were decided as a result of the preparatory meeting, including:
(i) the agreement on submitting the financial reporting framework in time for CBD COP 13 and, in the longer term, using it as a basis for domestic resource mobilization;
(ii) facilitation and scaling up of integration of biodiversity into cross-cutting issues, such as climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and impact assessments;
(iii) tasking a number of countries in the UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) to be expanded in order to help develop the capacity to mobilize resources.
Especially relevant to the Programme, many delegates vocalized the need to scale up capacity-building support for the implementation of CBD national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) as well as attaining other Aichi targets and ABS negotiations at the national level.
Supporting Caribbean negotiators for the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Meetings of the Parties of the associated Protocols
Since the start of the ACP-MEAs Programme, this is the third time that the CARICOM Secretariat has been able to support and assist countries in preparations for the CBD COP. Each time the level and scope of support the Secretariat has been able to provide has increased. The key objectives were to:
(i) familiarise participants with the COP-13, MOP-2 and MOP-8 agendas and the issues to be discussed and negotiated;
(ii) enable participants to identify and analyze those COP-13, MOP-2 and MOP-8 issues most relevant to their national and/or regional interests;
(iii) enable exchanges of views among participants about key COP-13, MOP-2 and MOP-8 issues, desired outcomes, and potential negotiating strategies; and
(iv) support the determination of national and/or regional positions and talking points on key COP-13, MOP-2 and MOP-8 issues.
As part of the preparation, the Caribbean Hub organized a regional preparatory workshop two months ahead of the CBD COP 13 in Georgetown, Guyana from 11 – 13 October 2016 and was attended by 8 representatives from 7 project countries and 1 regional organisation.
At this meeting, country representatives were briefed on the agendas of the upcoming COP and MOPs and reviewed key draft decisions of interest to the region, with special attention to any text in brackets. Participants at the workshop discussed and agreed upon shared perspectives and positions on agenda items of priority concern, including synthetic biology, resource mobilization, capacity building and invasive alien species.
Participants also received interactive refresher training in MEAs negotiations. They were briefed on the proposed organization of work for the COP/MOPS, especially the arrangements for holding of concurrent meetings, and outlined a strategy to cover key issues as a region, despite the small size of individual national delegations.
In evaluating the workshop, participants deemed the workshop appropriate, well organized, engaging and dynamic. They indicated that not only was the workshop timely, informative, very well facilitated and insightful, but it was also useful in strategizing for CARICOM countries’ effective participation at COP13.
Following the workshop, the CARICOM Secretariat prepared and circulated a negotiator’s brief to all member states prior to the COP, along with a report of the full proceedings of the workshop.
For the first time under the ACP MEAs Programme, the Caribbean Hub Coordinator was able to attend the COP to provide on-site support and assistance to countries, including assisting with the drafting of statements and coordinating collaborations with other regional groupings, including the Pacific SIDS. The Coordinator also participated in several side events with regional and international partners.
It should be noted that in 2012, the Caribbean Hub Coordinator had the opportunity to attend a regional CBD pre-COP workshop held by the Pacific Hub. The observations made and lessons learned from this experience have been invaluable in informing the approach to COP preparations in the Caribbean: a clear example of South-South sharing of good practice.
New guidelines for environmental impact assessment (EIA) in action
In the wake of increasing development in sectors such as tourism, land mining, energy and transport, and with novel forms of development on the horizon, like deep sea mining, Pacific island countries had expressed a need for stronger EIA systems and further EIA capacity-building. Thus, in response, the Environmental Monitoring and Governance (EMG) Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) launched new guidelines for environmental impact assessment (EIA) for all 14 countries of the Pacific in September 2016.
The newly-launched publication, titled Strengthening environmental impact assessment: guidelines for Pacific island countries and territories explains that EIA is a tool for identifying and managing the impacts of development on the environment, to help ensure negative impacts are minimized and positive impacts are maximized. The guidelines also emphasize that EIA can be used to make developments more resilient in the face of climate change.
SPREP member countries have supported the guidelines by providing feedback on early drafts and sharing local challenges and insights during EIA training workshops held in-country. The new guidelines were possible with the financial and technical support under the European Union funded ACP MEAs Programme, as well as UN Environment, and the Australian and New Zealand governments.
To see the EIA guidelines in action, SPREP organized the National Environment Management Strategy and State of the Environment Reporting workshops back to back with the EIA training to complement each other and to provide a team capacity building approach that has worked well in the Pacific. Through these workshops which were organized in mid-October in the Republic of Marshall Islands, the key aim was to present the findings of the State of Environment (SOE) Report to key stakeholders, demonstrate report uses in national planning and MEA reporting and discuss next steps; provide an update on the development of the National Environmental Management Strategy (NEMS) and review the NEMS thematic areas with stakeholders. And finally, by introducing the EIA guidelines, the aim was to develop participants’ understanding of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process and strengthen participants’ EIA skills through practical exercises and discussion.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
FAO is involved in a number of diverse activities for the Programme. In the interest of brevity, only two are highlighted below:
Mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management in the Pacific Islands
FAO in collaboration with CBD and the Pacific regional partner organizations SPREP and Secretariat for the Pacific Community (SPC), released a Technical Guidance Document that provides guidance on mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management in the Pacific Islands.
The document introduces best practices for integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services into agriculture for the Pacific region, including: diversification and integration of farming systems (cropping, agroforestry and agro-silvi-pastoral systems); strengthening resilience of production systems and landscapes to the adverse effects of climate change or pest outbreaks; soil biodiversity to enhance soil health, nutrient transformation, soil decontamination, climate regulation; and ecological management to minimise chemical use. It also links ecotourism and agricultural zones to support environmental protection and agrobiodiversity preservation.
The launch at took place at the CBD COP 13 in Cancun, Mexico - as a joint FAO-CBD-SPREP-SPC publication.
National training workshop on ecosystem-based agriculture in Apia, Samoa, 22-23 November 2016
Approximately forty people – policymakers from the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and local farmers’ association and stakeholders group – attended a national training workshop organized by FAO in collaboration with MNRE, MAF, SPC and SPREP.
The two-day training workshop was the first step in developing a roadmap to facilitate a transformational shift towards ecosystem-based agriculture and reduce reliance on agro-chemical use in Samoa. The meeting facilitated the stocktaking of existing national policies and cross-sectoral coordination mechanisms, considered relevant to the task of creating an enabling environment that can support farmers uptake of ecosystem-based agriculture.
The participants were presented with case studies, as well as policy measures that support the uptake of ecosystem-based agricultural practices from around the Pacific islands and across the world. Building on existing policies and national coordination mechanisms, MNRE and MAF will now draft a Samoa implementation roadmap to support and promote the uptake of ecosystem-based practices in agriculture. The roadmap will strengthen Samoa’s institutional capacity in achieving important international goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Ms. Tauti Fuatino M-Leota, Assistant CEO at MNRE and participant to the national training, presented the policy framework that in Samoa is supporting mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation at a side event on ecological intensification held on 8 December 2016 at COP13 in Cancun, Mexico.