ACP MEAs newsletter First Quarter of 2016

Synergies in the implementation of Biodiversity-related MEAs

In the past few decades, multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) have exponentially increased as countries increasingly tackle global environmental challenges. With more than 500 MEAs – of which at least 25 are truly global in nature – countries face a growing number of legal obligations and have expressed concerns over the effective monitoring, reporting and implementation around these MEAs. This has led to efforts to create a comprehensive and systematic governance regime, specifically by promoting synergies among thematic clusters in MEAs.

UNEP has led a multi-stakeholder process to identify options for enhancing cooperation and synergetic implementation among the biodiversity cluster, which includes the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), World Heritage Convention (WHC), International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

Article 6 of the CBD ‘requires each Contracting Party to develop National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and to integrate conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral activities'. Article 6 is one of only two mandatory commitments under the Convention along with Article 26, the obligation to submit periodic national reports on implementation.

The NBSAPs are particularly important as the global Biodiversity-related Conventions have agreed to align their activities through these national processes and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. As NBSAP are instruments that seek to address biodiversity as a whole, all issues relevant to other Biodiversity-related Conventions can and should be covered. And thus, the adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets is crucial in creating an important momentum to foster a new generation of NBSAPs that address the coherent implementation of the Biodiversity-related Conventions within national contexts. Initiatives like the NBSAP Forum – hosted by UNEP, CBD Secretariat, UNDP and UNEP-WCMC – have sought to provide ongoing support to national capacity and knowledge sharing in the revision and implementation of NBSAPs.

In the past few years, a few areas have been identified for strengthening synergies and improving efficiency, namely: the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs); institutional arrangements and coordination mechanisms; information and knowledge management; national reporting, monitoring and indicators; communication and awareness-raising; science-policy interface; capacity building; and resource mobilization and utilization. Moving forward, the synergistic implementation of biodiversity conventions will not only require greater collaboration and cooperation among convention parties, convention secretariats, and key partners but also across sub-regional, national, and local levels and across sectors.

A number of initiatives have taken place to promote such synergies, with the most recent ACP MEAs project’s South-South Experience Sharing workshop on NBSAPs and synergies bringing together participants from African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries as well as Mexico and Brazil. During the workshop, a sourcebook jointly produced by UNEP and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) on opportunities to enhance cooperation among biodiversity-related MEAs at the national and regional levels was widely circulated (link below). In a similar vein, under the ACP MEAs project, FAO in collaboration with the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) recently launched a technical guidance document on synergies between agriculture and the implementation of the NBSAPs. The report focuses on practical issues for consideration in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans to minimize the use of agrochemicals, with a geographic focus on agricultural production and management in East Africa (link below).

Africa Hub

During the first quarter of 2016, the Africa Hub has supported ten countries of the Economic Commission for Central Africa States (ECCAS) to review and update their overall environmental and natural resources management in the sub region, with the final report submitted to the Hub and partners. With assistance from the Hub, five member states of the East African Community have also started a study on harmonization of their biosafety framework and it is expected to be finalized by mid-May 2016.

The Hub has also been involvement in the recruitment of consultants to develop (i) tools and guidelines for the management of integrated waste and chemicals in Africa, (ii) tools and guidelines for integration of biodiversity into the national planning process, (iii) legislative and regulatory framework for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) management in Liberia and Burkina Faso and resource persons to facilitate a regional workshop on enforcement and compliance for biodiversity cluster MEAs Community is ongoing.

The Hub participated in the African Regional Capacity-Building Workshop on Mainstreaming Biosafety into National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, in Addis Ababa from 9 to 12 February 2016. organized by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and African Union Commission, where the Hub made a presentation on the project achievements in the first phase and possible joint activities with CBD Secretariat and the African Union Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology.

Caribbean Hub

In the first quarter of 2016, the Caribbean Hub commenced work on preparation of the first CARICOM Regional Biodiversity Outlook, and completed the preparation of a draft Framework for Capacity-Building and Development to Support Effective Action on Access and Benefit-Sharing. In co-operation with the Secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Hub produced a fact sheet on CMS for the Caribbean region.

Accessible on cap4dev project page

Pacific Hub

The Pacific Hub – coordinated through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) – has been supporting Pacific ACP countries access GEF funds by assisting with GEF proposal development to be submitted ahead of the GEF SEC meeting in June. The Hub has also been involved in strengthening national MEA enforcement and compliance mechanisms, through the preparation of environment impact assessment guidelines to be disseminated widely. For more than twenty five years SPREP has supported EIA awareness-raising and training programmes in member countries, and the publication of EIA guidelines and manuals. As the pace of development and urbanisation intensifies in our islands, the need for effective EIA processes becomes more urgent. These regional EIA Guidelines represent an expanded and updated version of SPREP’s original EIA Guidelines published in 1993. The regional EIA Guidelines complement other forms of SPREP EIA assistance such as the development and review of EIA legislation, delivery of in-country EIA training workshops, and provision of technical advice for different stages of EIA.

Additionally, SPREP has been involved in the mainstreaming of MEA objectives into national development planning processes: The National Environment Policy and Implementation Plan (NEPIP) for Vanuatu is going through the Government of Vanuatu endorsement process and it is in line with the National Sustainable Development Plan of Vanuatu. With the completion of the first draft State of Environment Report for the Republic of Marshal Islands (RMI), the actions identified have been developed into the RMI National Environment Management Strategies. The first draft RMI NEMS should be ready to be presented to the RMI Office of the Environment Policy Planning and Coordination (OEPPC) by 3rd quarter of 2016.

The Hub has been involved in strengthening national capacity for monitoring and reporting, MEA commitments and strengthening partnerships. One such example is supporting Nauru to achieve CBD targets by applying an ecosystem approach to the conservation of ecosystems, species and genetic diversity in the Pacific region. The Nauruan MSP workshop was executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), conducted in a collaborative partnership with the Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority (NFMRA), the Department of Commerce Industry and Environment (DCIE), Government of Nauru and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia (through the Enhancing Pacific Ocean Governance, EPOG, project, funded by Australian Aid). The overall objective of the training was to introduce MSP to relevant Nauruan government authorities, communities and non-government organizations, building their capacity in applying key MSP principles to assist them in the development of a draft marine spatial plan for Nauru and work towards achieving sustainable use of their marine environment. The training was primarily for Nauruan stakeholders; however, participants from the Cook Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu also attended the training as part of SPREP’s regional approach to enhance knowledge and understanding on the importance of MSP as a tool for sustainable resource management.

UNEP

UNEP organized the workshop on ‘South-South Experience Sharing Workshop on NBSAPs and Synergies among Biodiversity Conventions’ which brought together government officers from 13 countries which are at various phases of revising their National Biodiversity Strategy and Actions Plans (NBSAPs). Pursuant to target 17 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, each Party is called upon to develop NBSAPs, which are the principal instrument for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity at the national level. Thus, the purpose of the workshop was to promote dialogue between countries of the Global South to better understand the synergies among biodiversity-related multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) and how NBSAPs can play a key instrument in harmonizing national targets for various conventions.

Currently, more than a hundred countries are finalizing their revised or updated NBSAPs, and thus this workshop was a valuable opportunity to enhance cooperation and learn from each other. Countries from the African, Caribbean, Pacific region as well as Brazil and Mexico came together to discuss issues of synergies, legal preparedness, and institutional mechanisms that can provide for effective implementation of the NBSAPs.

Biodiversity and MEAs experts engaging with participants from Senegal, Tonga, Kiribati, and Samoa during a group brainstorming session.
Delegate from Tonga presenting on the country's NBSAPs progress

FAO

Capacity building on the implementation of the chemical conventions and sound pesticide management

In March 2016, the web-based Pesticide Registration Toolkit was launched. The toolkit intends to provide access to pesticides registrars in developing countries with the technical approaches relevant to the elements of evaluation that are required in pesticide registration, and to tools and data sources that support the agreed approaches. Members of Southern African Pesticide Regulators' Forum (SAPReF) were trained on the toolkit at the Regional workshop on risk reduction of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) and implementation of the Rotterdam Convention workshop from 25 to 29 April in Johannesburg, South Africa. The toolkit is open source and available at www.fao.org/pesticide-registration-toolkit.

In April 2016, the joint WHO/FAO Guidelines on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) available at: www.fao.org/3/a-i5566e.pdf were released. During the regional workshop organised in April in Johannesburg, SAPReF’s members were trained on identification and risk management of HHPs, and assisted in developing a national action plan to phase out HHPs.

In the Caribbean, the GEF-funded project formulated by FAO during MEAs I became operational in early 2016, for a duration of 4 years. The projects aims at disposing of 320 tonnes of obsolete pesticides that were identified and safeguarded during the first phase of the project, as well as re-mediating contaminated sites and establishing mechanisms to deal with empty containers.

Saint Marc, Haiti - A farmer hoeing a rice paddy

In the Pacific, during the first phase of the MEAs programme, Pacific island countries (PICs) identified building capacity in the harmonization of pesticides registration systems as a high priority. In April 2015, attended by national pesticides registrars, a Concept Note developed jointly by FAO and SPC for the proposed regional pesticide registration scheme was agreed on as a starting point for the development of a full proposal. A Working Group on Harmonization of Pesticide Legislation in the Pacific Islands was established in early 2016. It includes three national (Samoa, Fiji and Cook Islands) and two international pesticides registration experts; one regional and one international legal experts; and a representative of SPC as host to the regional scheme. The WG has developed the Concept Note into a more comprehensive document outlining the technical and legal Elements for a Regional Scheme. The WG primarily worked through on-line consultations and document reviews. National registrars of the countries not represented in the WG provided inputs into the draft Elements for the regional scheme. The first physical meeting of the WG is scheduled for 30th May to 3rd June in Suva, Fiji to finalise the proposal for submission to HOAFs in August/September 2016.

South Pente, Vanuatu - Sustainable land management in forest margins

FAO contributed to the training Workshop of the UNEP/GEF project on ´Global Project on the Updating of National Implementation Plans for POPs´ in Suva, Fiji, 4 – 6 April, 2016. The workshop provided an opportunity for enhancing regional coordination and understanding main aspects of Stockholm Convention obligations, including among others effectiveness evaluation and reporting obligations.

Synergies between the CBD and the chemical Conventions

A Technical Guidance Document on “Mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management in East Africa” has been published in May 2016 in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (available at: : www.fao.org/3/a-i5603e.pdf). The document is intended to support countries in the East African Community (EAC) as they revise any of their strategies or policies related to environment or agriculture. In particular, it’s oriented toward the revision and implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), to help them attain a number of relevant Aichi Targets. In this framework, a national training workshop on “Ecosystem Services from Sustainable Agriculture for Biodiversity Conservation” was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in May 2016. The workshop brought together key stakeholders from the relevant Government institutions in Kenya - and particularly those that are involved in the revision of the country’s NBSAP. A key outcome from the event were practical recommendations to mainstream agricultural biodiversity to minimize the use of agrochemicals in the Kenya NBSAP that is currently undergoing revision.

Work is also ongoing on the aspect of synergies between the chemicals and biodiversity conventions in Fiji and Samoa. In early 2016, the FAO provided inputs to the draft NBSAP of Fiji, which is currently under revision, to suggest the inclusion of text highlighting the relevance of ecological management in agriculture to reduce the use of agrochemicals and other inputs. A technical guidance document on mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity in agricultural management, geared towards the Pacific region, is also underway, to highlight policy entry points for ecological agriculture in NBSAPs and other relevant policies in countries within the region. National training workshops are planned for late 2016 in Samoa to bring together relevant stakeholders from environment and agriculture and build capacity on sustainable practices in agriculture.

To find out more on the project, please visit:

The ACP MEAs is a joint EU-UNEP partnership project. This Newsletter has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views, policies or official opinion of the European Commission, UNEP or contributory organizations. For more information on ACP MEAs please contact: Mr. Mamadou Kane (Mamadou.Kane@unep.org), Ms. Anjana Varma (anjana.varma@unep.org)

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Anjana Varma
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Photos are courtesy of National Geographic, Google images, event photos provided by AUC, CARICOM, SPREP, FAO, UNEP

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