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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrate the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (UNDB) 2011-2020

By: Anita James
Biodiversity Unit
Ministry of Agriculture

Japan hosted the 10th Conference of Parties (COP) Meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010 in October. It called on the COP to recommend to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to declare 2011-2020 as the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity. This decision was passed at a resolution during the sixty fifth session of the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) in 2010.

Now you may be wondering why there is a need for a decade dedicated to biodiversity after there was a full twelve months in 2010?  The answer is simply that it was deemed that the rate of loss of biodiversity would have been reduced by 2010. However, that turned out not to be the case.  As a result, there is need to focus concerted effort on conserving biodiversity over a longer period of time. It is hoped that by implementing the strategic plan for biodiversity agreed upon at the COP in 2010, for the period 2011-2020, that that noble goal will be achieved.  It is felt that with such a decision taken at such a high political level to observe the decade of biodiversity, that countries would be more encouraged to implement the plan. The resolution asks The Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon to lead the coordination of activities for the decade, on behalf of the UN system, with the support of the secretariat of the CBD and the secretariats of other biodiversity-related conventions and relevant UN funds, programmes and agencies.

The decade will seek to promote the involvement of a variety of national and intergovernmental actors and other stakeholders in the goal of integrating all relevant issues related to biodiversity into broader development planning and economic activities. No longer will biodiversity be expected to be a side issue. This will be done by ensuring that biodiversity concerns will be mainstreamed throughout government and all sectors of society, through communication, education and awareness, appropriate incentive measures and institutional change. Biodiversity will therefore cease to be a marginalized issue for many countries.  To achieve this goal, throughout the decade, countries that are party to the CBD will be encouraged to develop, implement and communicate the results of time-bound national strategies for implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including interim milestones and reporting mechanisms on progress achieved. There will be close monitoring of the implementation of the strategic plan. Biodiversity must be taken down from the global and national level to the individual level for the decade to be effective.

In order for you and I to mainstream biodiversity in our lives, we must know what biodiversity means as far as, not just the variety of species that exist but also the variety of ecosystems and services provided for the well being of humankind by these systems. You and I must understand how our actions affect biodiversity locally and how the loss of biodiversity can severely impact our lives. You and I must be aware of the actions that we must take to help conserve biodiversity.  You and I must grab hold of opportunities to get familiar with the natural resources that Saint Lucia is blessed with, to help us better appreciate Saint Lucia’s biodiversity.

To help us best meet your needs where the above questions are concerned, we would be grateful if you would send in your comments and questions on this article to the YO magazine. In subsequent editions, we will attempt to answer your questions to help you make you and Saint Lucia proud, to meet the objectives of the decade of biodiversity.