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6th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Sunday 7 April 2002

Madame President, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends and Colleagues

1. It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be in the Hague today, to address this important meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Again in The Hague, the venue for the World Water Forum, the Climate Change Conference and now the CBD Conference in the space of two years, comprising three of the main challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. I want to thank the Government of the Netherlands, for its generous invitation to host this meeting.

2. I welcome this atmosphere of solidarity and cooperation so very important for this crucial CBD meeting.

3. This atmosphere is important, because, to date, this meeting of the Conference of the Parties is the most crucial in the work of the Convention of Biological Diversity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

4. The Convention on Biological Diversity brought together a broad range of voices and opinions. Each of these has contributed practically, ethically, scientifically and politically to conservation and sustainable use. The Convention on Biological Diversity has looked at the diversity of ideas and approaches to conservation and sustainable use, to identify the gaps in our knowledge and management practices that must be filled, in order to save biological diversity in the decades ahead. It has also stressed the vital importance of the interrelationship between cultural and biological diversity - and here it was very good to listen to the Lord Mayor underline the importance of this interrelationship for The Hague.

5. In a sense, this visionary instrument has reflected the special concerns of the global community, and the vulnerability of biodiversity to human impact.

6. As we move closer to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 10 years after Rio, where the Convention on Biological Diversity was born, we are faced with many challenges, and we have to hurry up. For this reason I was very glad to see Minister Jan Pronk here, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the World Summit. This conference should send a very strong signal to the World Summit for agreeing both Type I as well as Type II outcomes. The challenge that the global community faces today is of making environment and development the twin criteria of human progress. That means understanding more than the raw statistics of population growth and species extinction. It means looking at the social and environmental impacts of wealth and poverty, at the consequences of better education, more recreation, improved communications, easier travel, global trade and tourism, and how these can impact on biodiversity, and how biodiversity can benefit from these main targets. It means looking ahead to see how innovations in energy production, water and soil conservation, agricultural technology and genetic engineering, can and must improve the quality of our environment, and the living conditions of humankind, especially the poorest of the poor. And above all, it means learning to live off nature's dividends rather than its capital. The added value of traditional knowledge is of great relevance in this respect. So we need to emphasize environment for development, for sustainable development.


7. I would like to congratulate you all on the progress achieved to date by the Convention on Biological Diversity. A number of issues have gained momentum especially in the last three years. Indeed this Convention could have a number of showcase products for presentation at the WSSD. These achievements include:

· The Protocol on Biosafety, and I underline what Minister Kamotho mentioned earlier, and thank him and the Kenyan Government deeply for their dedication and their two-year Chairmanship of the Convention. We need the ratification of the Protocol, were optimistic that we would already have had the first Meeting of the Parties. We should make a commitment to achieve this Millennium goal, and make the Protocol a reality by WSSD

· The Bonn Guidelines on access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their utilization, linked with Articles 15, 16, and 19 of the Convention on Biological Diversity

· The Ecosystem Approach to the Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity

· The Expanded Work programme of Forest Biodiversity

· The Guiding Principles of Alien Species

· The work on Article 8(j) in the integration of indigenous peoples and local communities

· The study on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and the impact of biodiversity on climate change

· The Global Biodiversity Outlook

· The Global Initiative on Education and Public Awareness

8. As we approach the World Summit in Johannesburg, it is important to recall that the UN Secretary-General launched the initiative on support to Africa, which has led to the birth in July 2001 of Africa's own initiative, namely the New Partnership for Africa's Development. Environment and biodiversity are an integral part of this new partnership, bearing in mind that biodiversity is one of the most important assets for development, spanning from sustainable tourism, in this International Year of Ecotourism, to biotechnology.

9. The summit in Johannesburg should be a Summit of Partnership, a summit for concrete action, a summit for accountability. In the case of biodiversity, this partnership must be one between governments, civil society, the private sector and more critically, indigenous and local communities. It should also be a Summit of Responsible Prosperity and Opportunities for all. It should commit itself to the eradication of poverty, to change unsustainable consumption and production patterns, remove perverse subsidies, reduce the ecological footprints of developed countries, and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of the benefits of globalization. Biodiversity should be a major source of some of these benefits, too.

10. The issues before this Conference are well articulated in the various reports before you for your consideration. Your deliberations will be strengthened by two other events, the High Level Meeting and the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue, and I can only congratulate the President for having this Dialogue integrated in COP6.

11. Invasive alien species are the second biggest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction. It is therefore imperative that work in this area advances rapidly. I encourage you to adopt the Guiding Principles which have been developed. You may also wish to consider the options for further work in this area as a matter of urgency.

12. UNEP was actively involved in the development and adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. And we retain a strong interest for the effective implementation of the Protocol, in all countries, when it enters into force. For this it requires the support of the capacity-building aspects of the UNEP/GEF global programme on Biosafety. It is therefore imperative to press for a strong replenishment of the GEF for this and other biodiversity projects.

13. UNEP fully supports close cooperation between the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Forum on Forests, particularly in the area of forest biological diversity. The last UNFF meeting gave a clear signal that there are strong linkages between sustainable forest management and poverty eradication. We hope that the Ministerial Roundtable, at this Conference of the Parties, will adopt a declaration, to guide us in further improving this relationship, and take advantage of the synergies between the UNFF process and the CBD process, with respect to the conservation and sustainable use of forests.

14. We have before us a report of experts, and some solid ideas on an expanded programme of work. The report points to the need to take into account the full economic value of biodiversity contained in forests, in any decision on the conservation and sustainable use of forest ecosystems. The recommendations strongly suggest that, governments should seek to promote both the monetary and non-monetary values of healthy forests. And we must remember that it was from forest science that we came to the terminology of sustainable development.

15. It is absolutely imperative that the important role and economic status, of the people living in the forest areas of the world is recognized. Their welfare is a prerequisite for securing the survival of endangered species in all ecosystems. I urge you to consider fully the findings of the technical experts on forest biodiversity, and agree on a practical and effective course of action for the future.

16. It would also be relevant at this point to underline biodiversity expertise of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and its work on a World Atlas of Mountain Ecosystems, in this International Year of the Mountains. This is most significant owing to the importance of mountain ecosystems not only to freshwater issues, but to biodiversity as well.

Madame President, Ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

17. High on the agenda of this meeting is the issue of access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. On the table are the Bonn Guidelines for your consideration. The challenge we now face is to find appropriate mechanisms or instruments that will secure equitable sharing of benefits, especially for developing countries. Hence the need for the conference to take a broader and longer-term view.

18. UNEP is fully committed to assisting developing countries, providing capacity-building on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing for, among other things, the development and implementation of effective national legislation.

19. I was honoured to be invited to the recent Cancun Meeting of the Like-Minded Group of Megadiverse Countries, which gave a very important push for the need, inter alia, to address the issue of access and benefit sharing in developing countries. UNEP stands ready to support developing countries in their work plan for 2002 to 2005.

20. I am pleased to announce that we are pre-releasing the finalized joint case studies that UNEP carried out with the World Intellectual Property Organization. These case studies illustrate the lessons learned from the use of intellectual property rights, in the sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources. The full joint UNEP/WIPO publication will be released later this year in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Our work is linked with the implementation of the Doha Declaration. This step towards Johannesburg was as important as that taken at Monterrey, and I was very glad that Monterrey gave such a positive signal towards the World Summit. It is important to make it clear that the WTO agenda has to take account of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements as there are important synergies to be enhanced, especially also with respect to the CBD.

21. The Stakeholder Dialogue to take place next week will contribute to the process of Access and Benefit Sharing envisaged under the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is my hope that this Dialogue will enrich and strengthen the deliberations on these important subjects also in light of the fact that the Bonn Guidelines will be considered here. In 2002, the year of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it would be a significant contribution to development, if people, primarily in developing countries, began to share equitably in the benefits of biodiversity-one of their key assets, one of their key contributions to a Global Deal for a sustainable and peaceful world.

22. I wish you every success with your deliberations over the coming weeks.

Thank you very much.