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Strengthening Opportunities and Decision - Making for Sustainable Management of Islands

New Database Brings Together Vital Data on Biodiversity to Climate Change Covering 70,000 Islands

New York, 10 May 2010 - A pioneering new database, bringing together for the first time information from biodiversity and climate change to social and economic factors covering some 70,000 islands, was launched today.

The Global Island Database (GID) is aimed at boosting sustainable management of the often unique and rich nature - based assets found on islands across the globe.

It will also assist island governments to play a more central and pivotal role in international negotiations and decision - making in respect to the management of scarce resources, including at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan in October.

The database, which has been developed by the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP - WCMC) in conjunction with partners, in response to a request from the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), was unveiled today at the UN - Commission on Sustainable Development's celebrations for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Its launch coincides with the release of the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO - 3) by the UNEP - linked Convention on Biological Diversity as part of the 2010 UN International Year of Biodiversity.

Achim Steiner, UN Under - Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "High quality databases are crucial for addressing both the threats to biodiversity and economically - important ecosystems, while maximizing the development opportunities from a more intelligent and sustainable management of these natural and nature - based assets".

"Islands may only cover three per cent of the global land area, but they are a treasure trove of biodiversity and home to some of the rarest and most unique species that in turn hold valuable genetic resources. The 20th century was an industrial age: the 21st century will increasingly be a biological one. The importance of this database for island nations cannot be over stated, and is long overdue," he added.

The GID (http://gid.unep-wcmc.org/index.html) represents part of a "kit" being launched by the CBD and UN - DESA as part of these events, which calls attention to how the GBO - 3 is useful to SIDS and provides a list of tools and links for assisting SIDS to include biodiversity issues in their development plans

"The GID not only allows the visualisation of data relevant for islands but also provides added - value through contextual information, data analyses and a networking platform for organizations to upload information about themselves and their work" said Francine Kershaw, GID project lead at UNEP - WCMC. "This beta version provides an excellent baseline and we are actively seeking partners and collaborators to help us build upon the GID in order to best serve the island community."

UNEP - WCMC is a partner in the GLISPA, a mechanism to implement the CBD's island biodiversity programme of Work (IBPoW). UNEP - WCMC committed to working with GLISPA to develop the GID and a strategy for maximising its utility, accessibility and relevancy to inform and advance the global island debate, and to support decision - makers and island resource managers, in direct response to the CBD's IBPoW, adopted in 2006. The GID has been developed in order to directly reflect five of the themes important for islands, as identified by the IBPoW, namely biodiversity, climate change, invasive species, pollution and sustainability.

"The need for a tool like the Global Island Database was one of the original gaps identified by GLISPA and it is going to be extremely useful for island countries and countries with islands, as well as others to help to develop regional and global strategies related to islands" said Kate Brown, Coordinator of the Global Island Partnership.

Funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through UNEP, the GID has been under development since 2008 and already represents a multi - partner initiative with strong links to the Global Islands Network (GIN), as well as IUCN's Species Survival Commission's (SSC) Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) and the Pacific Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) project.

Support is now being sought for the next phase of development, where priorities include expanding the existing partner - base in order to strengthen the current data - holdings, with particular emphasis on filling the significant gaps in present island information, provide a greater number of analysis products aimed at answering specific policy questions, and actively encourage networking between organisations working on similar issues in order to strengthen capacity within island regions.

For more information on the Global Islands Database, please contact:

Louisa Wood, Head of Marine Assessment and Decision Support Programme, UNEPWCMC, Tel: +44 7872542106, email: louisa.wood@unep - wcmc.org

Francine Kershaw, GID Project Lead, UNEP - WCMC, Tel: +44 1223 277314, email: francine.kershaw@unep - wcmc.org

For more information on islands and the CBD IBPoW, please contact:

Oliver Hillel, CBD Secretariat, Tel: +1 514 288 - 2220, email oliver.hillel@cbd.int

Kate Brown, Global Island Partnership, Tel: +1 202 288 2606, email kate.brown@iucn.org

Full Release




Further Resources

Global Island Database

UNEP: World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC)

Global Biodiversity Outlook 3

Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) full report


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