The Chair reconvened Working Group I with a summary of the remarks made by representatives of UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank. He then opened the floor to questions, whereupon India requested UNEP to circulate the guidelines for country studies for consideration at the next ICCBD. South Africa asked how UNEP and UNDP address regional initiatives, since most support is bilateral. Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and South Africa expressed the need for intellectual and institutional support for museums, herbaria, and computerization of collections in developing countries.
Prof. Reuben Olembo spoke on behalf of UNEP and described country studies as the basis for national strategies. Brazil cautioned that country studies should not be a pre-condition for national strategy funding. UNEP is responsible for all international legal instruments for biodiversity and has planned a 1993 meeting of the executive heads of all related conventions to study their interrelationships.
World Bank representative Ken Newcombe explained that the demonstration herbarium project reflects the type of projects that the GEF could fund. He referred to the commercial use of biodiversity and the importance of transborder projects.
UNDP representative Dr. Eduardo Fuentes noted that as national capacity is increased, the need for incremental costs to be covered by the GEF will diminish. On the point of capacity building, UNEP noted that developing country experience should be relied on as well, citing Costa Rica as a good model.
REPORTS ON NATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Delegations continued with their statements on the full range of important national activities for reducing the loss of biodiversity. Several common themes emerged: whether nations had signed or ratified the Convention; the establishment of national parks, protected areas, and biosphere reserves; conferences, seminars and workshops; the creation of commissions, committees, and ministries on biodiversity and the environment; the involvement of local populations and people living on the perimeter of protected areas; national plans and inventories; and the need for both national legislation and funding to implement the Convention.
The Chair began the afternoon session of Working Group I with a summary of common themes which could serve as the basis for recommendations to the Plenary and, in turn, to the COP: all nations should conduct country studies, relevant financial support should include computerized data and bibliographic purchases; conservation and sustainable use measures should emphasize the participation of local communities and women, and improve local standards of living; regional approaches should be devised through workshops and seminars; ex situ and in situ programmes should be integrated, including the collection of microorganisms; conservation aspects of different conventions should be integrated; biosphere reserves could provide an efficient approach to conservation and management of resources; restoration of ecosystems should be considered; institution-building should be addressed; biodiversity conservation outside protected areas should be considered; national legislation should be reviewed to reflect the needs of the Convention.
The Chair then identified points where opinion of delegations did not crystallize. The majority felt that the country studies should not be preconditions for national strategies and should not be mandatory. The Chair then asked for comments on the recommendations to be transmitted to the COP.
Malawi objected to the point on biosphere reserves, stating that the G-77 would not accept this reference. Indonesia asked whether the Interim Secretariat would attempt to implement some of the suggestions itself before the COP or would transmit them directly to the COP. He then suggested that the Interim Secretariat should allocate funds to initiate regional cooperation. The Chair replied that the working group and the Plenary could make recommendations to both the Interim Secretariat and the COP. The Chair then moved on to the next agenda item, "Factors for setting national action priorities." He listed several factors to stimulate discussion: national strategic frameworks; global impacts of activities; likelihood of success; and scope for public participation. Israel referred to the limited success of its biodiversity conservation approaches due to insufficient funding. The Philippines' criteria include: volume of biodiversity; percentage of primary forests; level of protection needed; level of utilization; and little known ecosystems. Malaysia's factors include: optimization of economic benefits; food security; protection of unique biodiversity; and enhancement of science, technology, education and knowledge of biodiversity value. Indonesia outlined the three guiding principles of its 1993 national biodiversity strategy: meeting basic country needs; generating income; and promoting environmental protection. India expressed its opposition to the exercise of listing priorities, explaining that he was troubled by the expectation that countries must produce a list of factors when in fact the issue is dynamic and one that is difficult to quantify. He added that a comprehensive list of priorities was dependent on the parties' assurance of funding. Bolivia echoed India's point, stating that the cultural and linguistic diversity of their society presented obstacles in the setting of social and economic priorities. Both Bolivia and Peru stated that the importance of traditional knowledge must be recognized within national sustainable development strategies. China's priority criteria included: degree of biodiversity; degree of threat; number of species; ecosystem diversity; and the economic, social and cultural importance of biodiversity. Mauritius and Tanzania suggested that the amount of ecosystem pressure must be assessed and that countries with the most endangered species should receive the highest priority. Uruguay included in its priority factors: environmental education and the involvement of the private sector, as well as both the NGOs and local populations. Lithuania referred to the importance of discussing the role of monitoring in national activities. The Marshall Islands echoed the view of other island states that the immediate threat to their ecosystems is climate change. The US prioritized activities to protect endangered species that would: consolidate inventories and other types of data; enable better understanding of emerging ecological problems. Germany outlined the factors that underlie its national priorities: degree of threat; categorization of species by type and degree of threat; monitoring; influence of projects on ecosystems; and sustainability of land use practices. Costa Rica stated that in setting priorities, it is key that all sectors of society understand the importance of biodiversity. The Czech Republic said that it is transforming its land tenure systems and, in that process, it is trying to save endangered gene banks do to the restructuring of scientific institutions. Nigeria noted the extent to which lack of awareness regarding fuelwood alternatives contributes to biodiversity loss. Bulgaria noted the importance of education programmes especially in biodiversity-rich areas. WWF Brazil noted the difficulties in setting priorities and referred to the importance of integrating human needs into conservation projects. The Biodiversity Support Program called on governments to include the experience of NGOs, local populations, indigenous communities and local governments in their decision- making. India raised the concern that the COP might develop a set of factors that did not reflect the recommendations of the ICCBD. Brazil highlighted the importance of considering country and region-specific factors and stated its concerns with the notion of global benefits.
The Chair promised to present a summary of all the ideas for further consideration and, eventually, presentation to the COP.
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