Speech by UNEP Deputy Executive Director to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Your Excellency, Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Government of India, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Honorable Minister, we are humbled and grateful for the warm welcome, generous hospitality and the tremendous support we have received. For this, we thank your Excellency, the Government and people of India and the city of Hyderabad

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new CBD Executive Secretary, Mr. Braulio Dias for accepting the offer to join the CBD Secretariat and very warmly welcome you to life as a member of the Secretariat family. I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of the outgoing Executive Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf in enhancing the work of the Convention and thank him most profoundly

Our meeting takes place at a historic moment when the international community just renewed commitments for sustainable development at the Rio+20 Summit.

Heads of States and Government recognized the crucial role of biodiversity in ensuring sustainable development. In addition, States acknowledged the urgent need for global partnerships to protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystems.

Rio+20 has launched the world on some new and potentially defining pathways for achieving a sustainable century-the inclusive Green Economy in the context of sustainable development a poverty eradication and promised support to States that choose out of their own self-interest to embark on the transition to a Green Economy

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the heart of the many challenges to biodiversity and ecosystems are the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

In celebrating the 20th anniversary of the CBD and may I in this respect also mention that it is UNEP's 40th anniversary year, we note many achievements.

But we know that there is a tremendous amount to do.

In advance of Rio+20, UNEP launched its flagship Global Environment Outlook-5 which benefited from many inputs from the CBD and the biodiversity community at large.

GEO 5 established that of 90 key agreed international sustainability targets, only four had been met.

In respect to biodiversity GEO-5 says:-

The world failed to reach the target of a significant reduction rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. This means that;

  • Around 20 per cent of vertebrate species are under threat.
  • The extinction risk is increasing faster for corals than for any other group of living organisms, with the condition of coral reefs declining by 38 per cent since 1980. Rapid contraction is projected by 2050.
  • With more than 30 per cent of the Earth's land surface used for agricultural production, some natural habitats have been shrinking by more than 20 per cent since the 1980s.

However, there has been some progress in terms of policy responses, such as increasing the coverage of protected areas and sharing access and benefits of genetic resources. I would encourage countries to ratify the Protocol as soon as possible to enable its early entry into force.

So there are pluses but far too many negatives-many of which are well known and documented.

But Ladies and Gentlemen so are the solutions-the outcome of Rio+20 gives us renewed hope and opportunity to achieve the objectives of the convention on Biodiversity. The Biodiversity and ecosystem community can be rightly proud of the way it has helped fuel that creative discourse not least through the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity and the work on establishing an Intergovernmental Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

The TEEB work in particular is assisting in informing the debate here in Hyderabad on the kind of funding that will be necessary to achieve the CBD's 2020 Aichi targets.

There are ranges on the table which to some, in parts of the world still undergoing economic and financial crisis, may seem high - But our collective experience and the new analysis through initiatives such as TEEB and others have illuminated that the costs of inaction are far higher and will rise and that the losses the world-especially the poor-are sustaining annually as a result of unsustainable management of the natural world dwarf the investments.

Furthermore, the role of the private sector as well as its responsibility to enhance equity for all sectors of society within the rules and regulations put in place by governments is critical and must be emphasized

I would be keen to explore with the CBD Executive Secretary and his team, how to improve synergies between the inclusive Green Economy work, the TEEB work and that of the treaty, in particular at the national level but also at other levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNEP and the CBD Secretariat have identified areas for enhanced programmatic collaboration and cooperation in the context of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi biodiversity targets.

At the regional and national levels UNEP has deployed Biodiversity Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) focal points in UNEP's Regional Offices for Africa (Nairobi), Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok), West Asia (Manama), and Latin America and the Caribbean (Panama).

Their task is to enhance implementation of CBD and other biodiversity related Conventions and bodies including the Convention on Migratory Species, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species; the wetlands treaty RAMSAR; The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources and the World Heritage Convention.

Enhancing the capacity of African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries

Since 2009, the African Caribbean and Pacific-MEAs project, funded by the European Union, have been building the capacity of ACP countries to better comply with their environmental obligations under selected MEAs.

One of the objectives of the Programme is to build and enhance capacity of ACP countries to better comply with, implement and enforce MEAs and related commitments to address the loss of biodiversity, drought, land degradation, and other threats to the environment. This is in line with the realization of the three main objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Some of the results reached to date include the improvement of national and regional capacity of ACP countries. We have seen compliance with, implementation of and enforcement of Parties obligations under the CBD improve as confirmed by the ACP countries themselves.

In these difficult economic times we need to refocus our environmental objectives to aim at achieving them in the most coherent, efficient and effective manner through forging partnerships with all key stakeholders

Distinguished Delegates,

We are all gathered here because we still believe in the ideals and objectives that we set for ourselves in 1992 in Rio when we adopted the convention on biodiversity.

We later agreed to elaborate those objectives further in the Nagoya, Cartagena and Kuala Lumpur protocols to better achieve them. These protocols remain an integral part of everything we set ourselves to achieve. They should not be siloed.

We face a dilemma which must be addressed;

The international community is gripped by financial and economic uncertainty but as GEO 5 pointed out, biodiversity loss continues unabated and therefore a better, more Effective and targeted implementation is required. Now we know that cannot happen without some resources being made available.

I therefore want to make an appeal today - First to the secretariat to efficiently manage the meagre resources and to use and develop partnerships.

And secondly to the parties to provide the means for a more effective implementation of the convention in accordance with the commitments you undertook.

We also need to support the ratification of the Nagoya - Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

Both are important parts of the jigsaw puzzle towards promoting better sustainable use of genetic resources with equity and safety while being critical towards achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Honourable Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Only time will tell if Rio+20 proves to be a game-changer in humanity's relationship with the natural world and those essential, multi-trillion dollar services that maintain and support us all.

In order for the outcomes to flourish and to have meaning, all segments of the sustainable development landscape need to perform and to deliver on their part of the package, on their areas of responsibility.

I trust that the CBD's 11th meeting of the parties will be part of that transformation to the Future We Want and the Future seven billion people need.

I Thank you for your attention


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