The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) held a consultation in Bogota, Colombia on Monday, 30 November and Tuesday, 1 December as part of a regional initiative entitled “Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Why these are Important for Sustained Growth and Equity in Latin America and the Caribbean” (the Initiative) to prepare a report on the role of biodiversity in wealth generation and support of wellbeing in the region. The first consultation was held in Mexico City from 13-14 August, the second in Lima, Peru from 24-25 September, the third in Caracas, Venezuela from 4-5 November, and the fourth in Quito, Ecuador from 24-25 November. The Guatemala consultation (for the Central American nations) convened from 3-4 December (report to follow) and others are scheduled for Brasilia, Brazil and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (for the Caribbean), in January 2010. Each seeks the inputs of national experts and stakeholders.
The Colombian consultation included participants from: government entities, both national and regional; conservation groups; the academic and scientific communities; and a business association. On Monday, participants heard morning plenary presentations on the Initiative and the regional report, and in the afternoon they broke out into three working groups to discuss emblematic Colombian policies, identify key sectors for promoting investment in biodiversity and ecosystem services and any existing barriers to such investments. Deliberations resumed on Tuesday with participants convening in working groups to first discuss insights from case studies from Paraguay and Indonesia, and then to recommend inputs to the regional report on principal arguments to use, ways to convince decision-makers and dissemination strategies. In the final plenary participants recommended key messages and ways to enrich the regional Initiative.
The 2008-2011 UNDP Regional Programme for LAC has identified the Initiative as one of its regional strategic areas. Organized in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Initiative aims to convince policy- and decision-makers in the region to invest in and maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The Initiative’s primary product will be a report examining a number of issues including: financial and economic benefits and costs to countries from sustainable ecosystem management; the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystems to sectoral production and outputs; their economic value; and the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in promoting growth and equity. The report’s production is supervised and guided by a Commission for Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Finance and Development composed of the region’s political leaders, economists, businessmen and civil society representatives. The report’s quality control will be overseen by a technical advisory committee of regional, finance and economic experts, while much of the report’s actual preparation will be done by a central technical committee composed primarily of environmental economists. With a view to reflecting the diverse experiences and views of LAC nations, a series of consultations across the region was initiated in August 2009 to seek direct input from representatives of governments, civil society, indigenous communities, academia and the private sector. Participants in each consultation hold discussions on four themes: contributions of biodiversity and ecosystem services to LAC’s development and equity; paradigmatic cases of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in Mexico and their impact on development and equity; strategic areas and mechanisms to promote investment in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services; and inputs to the regional report. The outputs of these meetings will be incorporated into the report.
The final report is intended not only to contribute to national polices, but also to global and regional key policy events that will be held in 2010, including the: tenth Conference of the Parties to CBD; the International Year of Biodiversity; Latin American, Ibero-American and European Union/Latin America and Caribbean summits; and post-Kyoto negotiations. The Initiative also will contribute to a global study being undertaken on Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity sponsored by the European Commission and the German Ministry of Environment.
MEXICO CONSULTATION: This consultation took place in Mexico City, Mexico on 13-14 August and was attended by representatives of government entities, conservation groups, indigenous communities, the academic community and the state hydrocarbons firm, Pemex. Key outputs were identification of many Mexican projects and programmes involving compensation for ecosystem services, and the lessons learned and key trouble issues identified, such as property rights and difficulties in arriving at decisions involving communal land. (For IISD RS coverage see: http://www.iisd.ca/larc/pdf/larc0101e.pdf)
PERU CONSULTATION: This consultation took place in Lima, Peru on 24-25 September and was attended by representatives of: government entities; conservation groups; the academic community; organizations representing Peru’s regions; indigenous communities; and associations and companies in the forestry, finance, hydrocarbon, fishery and ecological product sectors. The opening plenary was addressed by Peru’s Environment Minister, Antonio Brack Egg. Participants highlighted some unique cases and identified strategic areas as mining, hydrocarbons, agriculture, and water. They also identified key issues they felt the regional report should address, including biofuels, trade barriers, lack of R&D in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, CO2 capture, and the relationship of patents with traditional knowledge. (For IISD RS coverage see: http://www.iisd.ca/larc/pdf/larc0102e.pdf)
VENEZUELA CONSULTATION: This consultation took place in Caracas, Venezuela on 4-5 November and was attended by representatives of: government entities; conservation groups; the academic and scientific communities; and associations and companies representing the hydroelectric, hydrocarbons and fisheries sectors. Participants discussed several case studies and identified energy, tourism, forestry, PAs, health, sustainable agriculture, fisheries, water and mining as strategic areas. They suggested the pay for environmental services concept would have to be modified before it would be accepted in Venezuela, and expressed preoccupation with ecosystems shared across national boundaries. (For IISD RS coverage see: http://www.iisd.ca/larc/pdf/larc0103e.pdf)
ECUADOR CONSULTATION: This consultation took place in Quito, Ecuador on 24-25 November and was attended by representatives of: government and international entities; environment and conservation groups; the academic community; and representatives from the Amazonian and highland regions of Ecuador. Participants discussed several case studies and identified the strategic sectors as agriculture, tourism, forestry, water, coastal and marine resources, and biocommerce/biotechnology. They also stressed spiritual values, ancestral knowledge and the need for a communications strategy that links biodiversity, daily life and culture.
REPORT OF THE COLOMBIAN CONSULTATION
Facilitated by Claudia Martinez, E3 Consulting (Colombia), the consultation opened on Monday, 30 November. Fernando Herrera, Coordinator, Poverty and Sustainable Development Programme, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Colombia, said the consultation provides an opportunity for useful dialogue between diverse actors about the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainable growth. He explained UNDP promotes biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services as growth and development strategies in Colombia in two ways: its incorporation in UNDP’s strategic planning for building national capacity in Colombia; and over 30 individual projects, including: the incorporation of biodiversity in national production practices; the recovery, promotion and protection of traditional knowledge associated with agro-biodiversity; and the creation of marine protected areas.
Alex Pires, Programme Officer, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), said that as environmental and economic issues converge and capture the world’s attention, biodiversity, especially in the LAC context, should play an important role as LAC has eight of the world’s mega-biodiverse countries, the most species, and half of the world’s tropical forests. He explained the connection of the LAC initiative on biodiversity and ecosystem services with a global project, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). He noted that, in its first phase, a TEEB diagnostic found that a possible US$45 billion investment in protected areas (PAs) could assure the delivery of US$5 trillion per year in ecosystem services. He further explained that the second phase now underway seeks to identify good experiences, develop a common approach to analyzing ecosystem services and promote access to information in order to improve the participation of civil society in biodiversity management.
Xiomara Sanciemente, Director, Ecosystems, Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (MAVDT), discussed the revision process underway on Colombia’s 1995 National Biodiversity Plan (PNB). She explained that an update was necessary because of changes in Colombia’s environmental institutions, advancements in understanding biodiversity and its linkages to other issues, and the lack of a proper baseline in the existing Plan, with specific targets that enable measurement of progress in policy application. She said there will also be changes in the PNB’s conceptual framework, such as an increased focus on socio-ecosystem linkages, discussion of the role of resilience and greater stress on sustainable use. She urged participants in the consultation to become involved in the PNB revision process.
FIRST SESSION: CONTRIBUTIONS OF BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES TO LAC’S DEVELOPMENT AND EQUITY
Emma Torres, Senior Adviser, UNDP Regional Bureau for LAC, explained the Initiative’s origin, organization and principal objectives. She said the Initiative aims at encouraging the region’s leaders to recognize the value of LAC’s biodiversity in promoting economic growth, equity and competitiveness, and to highlight the cost of inaction. She emphasized that as many of the region’s recent emblematic cases are not documented or widely-known, the consultations are essential for gathering such information.
Guillermo Rudas, consultant, UNDP, discussed the report’s three main messages that: sustainable ecosystem management (MES) is important for economic growth; MES particularly benefits the poor who have the most to lose by following Business As Usual (BAU); and moving from “conventional use” of biodiversity to MES is economically viable. He reviewed some barriers to greater sustainable use already identified, such as the competition for land use, visible in Colombia in the conflict between PAs and mining and petroleum interests. He explained the report’s methodology is to look at the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to the focus sectors of agriculture, forest management, fisheries, PAs and tourism to economic growth and social equity, and that the report would examine cross-cutting issues such as water, energy, health and climate change. He then listed examples of specific issues and case studies UNDP is considering for the report.
Discussing the national context, Rudas pointed out Colombia consists of collective territories that have protected biodiversity for a half-century, and between the national system of PAs, indigenous reserves and black communities, legally speaking about 36% of Colombia’s territory is outside the marketplace. He noted that, while protecting biodiversity has been designated a priority in the National Environment System (SINA), the assignment of state financial resources and investments suggests that it is not yet a priority. He observed that resources tend to be concentrated in certain of the country’s regional corporations, with the corporations representing the regions with the greatest biodiversity receiving the least. Rudas noted, however, that the government is trying to wean the national park system off its recent dependency on international funds. He discussed two cases demonstrating that both deforestation and coca cultivation have been lower in Colombia’s national parks than in adjacent areas.
John Bejarano, Director, Biocommerce Fund, said Colombia was one of the first countries to develop sustainable biocommerce. He explained the Fund is a nonprofit entity that promotes biocommerce as a strategy for competitive and sustainable development, helping with business plans, in situ management plans, market studies and seed funding. He added that Colombia has a biocommerce observatory, a national technical committee on biodiversity and competitiveness, updated norms on the subject, and a Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation in Biocommerce. The Fund has helped 75 initiatives, involving 22 of Colombia’s 32 departments and 320 native species, and benefiting 1,012 families.
The participants and presenters subsequently discussed: why conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services may not have been the engine of economic growth for the US, China or Singapore, but can be for LAC; the relationship of the consultation’s theme with the Copenhagen climate change negotiations; the disparity in Colombia between knowledge about land-based biodiversity and marine bio-resources; why problems such as land titles, the diffuse nature of traditional knowledge and how best to value natural resources, impede greater investment in biocommerce or ecosystem services in Colombia’s Amazonian region; whether biodiversity/ecosystem services policy should be explicitly linked to other policies, such as that on water; the role of education; how the regional report might treat urban biodiversity; the pluses and minuses of bioprospecting; and how the regional report is not a full-fledged “Stern Report” for biodiversity.
SECOND SESSION: PARADIGMATIC CASES OF BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN COLOMBIA AND THEIR IMPACT ON DEVELOPMENT AND EQUITY
During Monday afternoon’s first session, participants divided into three working groups to identify which Colombian experiences and policies can be considered emblematic and should be mentioned in the regional report. Working group rapporteurs then reported the conclusions to plenary.
The working groups identified the following cases as emblematic: The La Cocha Country Reserves Network; research and development of essential oils by the National Center of Research for the Agro-industrialization of Aromatic Plant Species and Tropical Medicines (CENIVAM) in Santander; adaptation to climate change in the Macizo de Chingaza; management of overlapping zones of parks and reserves, as in the Cahunari National Natural Park in Amazonas; the national policy of participation in conservation known as “Parks of the People”; the Laguna de la Cocha network of country reserves; the Declaration creating the Yaigojé Apaporis National Natural Park; the Villapaz Civil Society Reserves in Palmarito; the unified norm on bamboo in Caldas, Quindío and Tolima; the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Quindío (CRQ) Statute regulating soil use; the Flor Verde eco-certification programme for flowers; the national policies on wetlands and páramos; the Inga de Aponte Reserve; Green Gold in Chocó; the pact for legal wood products; and the reserves policy in the Amazon region.
Facilitator Martinez questioned why more cases were not suggested, noting for example Colombia’s well-known water use tax or the Green Councils (Cabildos Verdes). She suggested Colombia’s research centers should devote time and resources into identifying such cases and asked for more suggestions. One participant suggested several involving corporate social responsibility (CSR), such as Cartón de Colombia’s cardboard recycling programme aimed at cutting wood consumption, the policy for responsible tuna fishing, or reforestation programmes sponsored by some companies.
THIRD SESSION: STRATEGIC AREAS AND MECHANISMS TO PROMOTE INVESTMENT IN BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
During Monday afternoon’s second session, the working groups were asked to identify: strategic sectors for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services; opportunity costs and existing barriers to sustainable management; how best to provide incentives to invest in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services; and innovative financing mechanisms toward these ends. After the group discussions, each working group rapporteur reported to the plenary.
All groups identified the mining/energy sector as key, with barriers to sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem services identified as: lack of titles; land price speculation; the existence of mineral deposits in PAs; inequitable distribution of benefits; irreversible negative impacts; and splits among government institutions. Another commonly identified sector was agriculture, with opportunities for promoting more efficient production, ecology with social inclusion, the protection of and incentives for traditional agriculture, promoting the use of biofertilizers, and exploration of new market niches. The barriers for agriculture were identified as transgenics, invasive species, monocultures, poor use of soils, and lack of incentives and unified policies.
A third strategic sector mentioned was tourism, where participants identified opportunities in rural development and encouraging ecotourism, agro-tourism and local capacities, but noted barriers regarding security, lack of environment vision in managing and promoting Colombian tourism, lack of regulation, and usual distribution of benefits to those outside the area where the tourism occurs.
Other sectors identified included fisheries, forestry, and biocommerce.
On actions and policies to stimulate investment in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, the groups suggested: incentives for conservation research; promotion of sustainable biocommerce and the generation of new value chains; CSR; a policy on traditional knowledge and biodiversity; and policies regarding ecosystem restoration. As for financial mechanisms, the groups recommended: an increase in the water use tax; resource contributions from enterprises with CSR programmes; strategic conservation funds; policies on transferences, alternative mechanisms; and pay or compensation for environmental services.
FOURTH SESSION: DISCUSSION OF CASE STUDIES
On Tuesday morning in plenary, Facilitator Martinez summarized the prior day’s work. Pires then explained TEEB and its relation to UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative, and presented two TEEB case studies, one on ecosystem service payments (PES) access in Paraguay, the other on motivating Indonesian authorities to adequately protect Leuser National Park in Aceh Province through studies of the economic losses. The working groups were asked to ponder the lessons from these case studies and how they might relate to Colombia’s situation.
The group examining the Indonesian case study agreed that such an economic study was important, but noted there was no equivalent in Colombia. They noted the importance of such studies, but urged taking a global view in a local context, coordinating between local, regional and national actors, and bearing mind that some things, such as religious and cultural values, while unquantifiable, should be taken into account.
The group examining the Paraguayan case study emphasized taking into account the good governance and management capacity of the communities involved in order to ensure that the communities benefit. They suggested: requiring prior consultations to reach agreement on PSA systems, especially when dealing with indigenous communities; checking that negotiations are with valid actors; conducting a respectful intercultural dialogue; empowering communities; improving schemes on access to benefits; having a baseline to ensure clarity about which environmental goods and services are under negotiation; and ensuring a system of monitoring and follow-up.
The participants subsequently discussed the challenges in negotiations involving collective territories, where decisions are made by the community and often are not in line with national interests. One participant mentioned a Colombian public service company that has worked out a direct contract with a community in a collective territory.
FIFTH SESSION: INPUTS TO THE REGIONAL REPORT
On Tuesday, the working groups met to reflect on several questions, in particular: what the principal arguments are for promoting biodiversity and ecosystem services as contributing to growth and equity; how best to convince decision-makers of the need to invest in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services as cross-cutting foci in national development plans; and what actions should be undertaken to disseminate the regional report. The working group rapporteurs then reported to plenary.
On how best to convince decision-makers, the groups suggested strengthening mechanisms and actions in favor of valorizing biodiversity. They recommended arguments showing: the effects of climate change and its socioeconomic impact in the regions; the dependence of production sectors and economic growth on biodiversity; biodiversity has a direct relation to income generation and quality of life in LAC; the assignment of resources of regional territories does not take the environment into account; conservation is a global problem; and biodiversity conservation generates wellbeing and health.
Regarding mechanisms to reach decision-makers, the groups suggested: avoiding environmentalist jargon; finding ways to dramatically drive home the importance of ecosystem services, such as shutting off all water to Bogota for an hour; providing accessible information; articulating the science using contexts decision-makers can understand, such as indicators and economic terminology identifying interests; recognizing the leading role of rural communities; assisting strategic studies; and promoting mechanisms for land redistribution for communities in fragile ecosystems.
On disseminating the regional report, they recommended: using all communications media, whether visual, written, electronic, radio, video, video games, internet services such as Facebook, or even specially designed games that generate interest in biodiversity and ecosystem services; including it in regional summit agendas; including the issue in educational programmes; documenting critical cases regarding environmental services and their consequences; providing specialized documents geared toward distinct audiences; and tying into the launching in April of the international sustainability accounts.
On Tuesday, in closing plenary, Facilitator Martinez presented a summary of the consultation’s main ideas and conclusions.
On participants’ observations, she stressed several key points, including the:
- importance of a commercial-economic vision of biodiversity into order to gain political changes;
- disparity between knowledge about land resources and marine resources; and
- need to take advantage of the huge natural capital of LAC in order to form alternative development models distinct from those driving the US or China.
On emblematic experiences, she highlighted several, including the:
- La Cocha Country Reserves Network;
- research and development of essential oils by CENIVAM;
- adaptation to climate change in the Macizo de Chingaza;
- management of overlapping zones of parks and reserves (Cahunari National Natural Park);
- Declaration creating the Yaigojé Apaporis National Natural Park;
- Villapaz Civil Society Reserves;
- unified norm on bamboo in Caldas, Quindío and Tolima;
- Autonomous Regional Corporation of Quindio (CRQ) Statute regulating soil use;
- Flor Verde eco-certification programme for flowers;
- national policies on wetlands and páramos;
- reserves policy in the Amazon region; and
Regarding the sectors, opportunity costs, barriers and financing to discuss in the regional report, she noted recommendations to:
- cover mining/energy, agriculture, tourism, fisheries, forestry and biocommerce;
- provide incentives for conservation research;
- promote sustainable biocommerce and the generation of new value chains;
- promote CSR, and resources contributions for biodiversity conservation from enterprises with CSR programmes;
- set a policy on traditional knowledge and biodiversity;
- elaborate policies regarding the restoration of ecosystems;
- increase the water use tax;
- establish strategic conservation funds;
- set policies on transferences, alternative mechanisms for transference; and
- develop pay or compensation for environmental services.
On how best to reach and convince key decision-makers, she highlighted:
- stressing the effects of climate change;
- underlining the dependence of production sectors and economic growth on biodiversity;
- showing that biodiversity has a direct relation to income generation and the quality of life in LAC;
- arguing that conservation is a global problem;
- arguing that biodiversity conservation generates wellbeing and health;
- avoiding environmentalist jargon;
- providing accessible information;
- recognizing the leading role of rural communities;
- assisting strategic studies;
- promoting mechanisms for land redistribution for communities in fragile ecosystems.
- disseminating the regional report using all communications media;
- including the report in regional summit agendas;
- including the issue in educational programmes; and
- providing specialized documents geared toward distinct audiences.
Martinez then asked for any closing thoughts from participants. Points raised included: the key to making biodiversity more attractive is to incorporate it into economic life and give it added value; the value of the Stern Report on climate change was its discussion on the cost of not acting, and something similar must be produced for biodiversity; the significance of CSR in the biodiversity context needs to be clarified; Colciencias has decided to make biodiversity one of its major themes, including work on biofuels in its strategic plans as of March-April 2010; sustainability is both a social and an environmental issue; a large part of Colombia’s economy is the informal market, and biodiversity could be used as an instrument for bringing some of that activity into the formal economy; the government plans events in coming months about the linkage between biodiversity and health; and climate change cannot be resolved without attending to the issue of biodiversity conservation.
The consultation came to a close at 2 pm.
UNDP - LAC BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEMS CONSULTATIONS:The UN Development Programme –Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC) Biodiversity and Ecosystems Consultations have been being convened across the region since August 2009. The first was held in Mexico City, Mexico, on 13-14 August, the second was held in Lima, Peru, on 25-26 September, the third in Caracas, Venezuela on 4-5 November, the fourth in Quito, Ecuador on 24-25 November, and the fifth, as reported in this summary, was held in Bogotá, Colombia on 30 November – 1 December. A consultation convened in Guatemala City, Guatemala on 3-4 December (for IISD coverage visit http://www.iisd.ca/larc/biodiv/lacbg/ from 12 December 2009). The Brazilian and the Caribbean consultations will take place in early 2010. For more information contact: María José Baptista, UNDP; tel: +1 212 906 54 18; fax: +1 212 906 6017; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SIXTH EU-LAC SUMMIT: The sixth EU-LAC Summit will take place on 18 May 2010 in Madrid, preceded by a Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 17 May. The theme of the Summit will be: “Towards a new stage in the bi-regional partnership: Innovation and Technology for sustainable development and social inclusion.” The Madrid Summit aims to bring together not only Heads of State and Governments from LAC and Europe, but also important non-state actors. For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/lac/index_en.htm
IBERO-AMERICAN SUMMIT: The Twentieth Ibero-American Summit, bringing together heads of state and government from Spain, Portugal and the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of Latin America, will be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina on 11-12 November 2010. The subject of biodiversity is expected to be on the Summit agenda. For more information contact: Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB); tel: +34 91 590 19 80; fax: +34 91 590 19 81; Internet: http://www.segib.org
CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (CBD) WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING (ABS WG 9): ABS WG9 will take place in Colombia on 18-24 March 2010 at a venue to be determined. For more information contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; Internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
CBD COP 10: The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP 10) will meet in Nagoya, Japan on 18-29 October 2010. COP 10 is expected to assess achievement of the 2010 target to reduce significantly the rate of biodiversity loss, adopt an international regime on ABS and celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity 2010. A High-level Segment will be held from 27-29 October 2010. For more information contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/