Biodiversity in European Development Cooperation Conference
19-21 September 2006 | Paris, France

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Web coverage:
Tuesday, 19 September - Wednesday, 20 September - Thursday, 21 September

Highlights for Tuesday, 19 September 2006

OPENING

SETTING THE STAGE: On Tuesday afternoon, participants viewed the short film “What Nature does for Development.”

Ibrahim Thiaw, Acting Director General, IUCN, welcomed participants and stressed humans’ reliance on natural resources. He underlined the challenge of conserving nature while providing a livelihood for the poor and explained that the conference aims to help the EU mainstream biodiversity conservation in its cooperation policy.

Why is biodiversity important for the development of partner countries?

Ibrahim Thiaw, Acting Director General, IUCN

Jesca Eriyo Hon, Minister of Water and Environment, Uganda

Hugo Barrera, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, El Salvador

L-R: Kim Sean Yin, Secretary of State for the Environment, Cambodia; Jesca Eriyo, Minister of Water and Environment, Uganda; Brigitte Girardin, Minister for Cooperation, Development and the Francophonie, France; Ibrahim Thiaw, Acting Director General, IUCN; and Hugo Barrera, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, El Salvador

Three keynotes speakers presented viewpoints from the African, Meso-American and Asian regions.

Jesca Eriyo, Ugandan State Minister for Environment, underlined the role of biodiversity in fulfilling Africa’s development aspirations, urging that funding respond to emerging issues and be readily accessible to biodiversity conservation actors. She highlighted the aims of Uganda’s new biodiversity strategy and action plan to: mainstream biodiversity into macro-economic and sectoral policies; build capacity for biodiversity conservation; and ensure the representation of biodiversity management in all sectors of government. As priority actions she suggested: integrating environmental impact assessments into development planning; further mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in development planning; and involving European development assistance in macro-economic planning and management, and in strengthening environmental governance in the region.

Hugo Barrera, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, El Salvador, stressed the significance of ecosystem services for clean water and health, and outlined El Salvador’s national land-use planning policies for realizing these objectives. He referred to Meso-American regional cooperation for maintaining critical ecosystems’ diversity through establishing biological corridors. He described two national projects, a payment system for ecological services and a network of protected areas. Barrera called for a shift of emphasis from development to the CBD goals of sustainable use of resources and benefit sharing, linked to poverty reduction and harmonized actions of government and civil society.

Kim Sean Yin, Cambodian Secretary of State for the Environment, noted the conference offers an opportunity to seek alternatives for cooperation between parties in order to conserve and use biodiversity for sustainable development. Stressing that 33% of the Cambodians live below the poverty line and that 90% of the poor are farmers living in rural areas, he stated that poverty alleviation is his government’s main priority. He identified biodiversity protection as fundamental to poverty reduction and underscored his government’s commitment to eradicate illegal activities. Sean Yin outlined Cambodia’s legal framework for environmental protection and highlighted the limitations caused by reduced resources and capacities, and lack of awareness of the impacts of environmental degradation.

Kim Sean Yin, Secretary of State for the Environment, Cambodia

How can biodiversity be addressed through development cooperation?
Brigitte Girardin, Minister for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie, France

Participants attending the conference

Brigitte Girardin, French Minister for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie, drew attention to the alarming rate of biodiversity loss as well as its relationship to global warming, species extinction, disturbed water cycles, erosion and desertification. Affirming France’s commitment to sustainable development, she noted progress from biodiversity projects in Africa. She stressed that, together with the fight against poverty and climate change, biodiversity conservation is one of the main three challenges of the century. Girardin lamented the relative lack of interest in biodiversity, supported the creation of an international biodiversity expert panel and called for an improved institutional framework.

Plenary

L-R: Enrico Pironio, EC; Teresa Siricio Iro, Minister of Environment and Physical Development, Sudan; Walter Kennes, Directorate-General (DG) Development, EC, Achim Steiner; Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Abel Mamani, Minister of Water, Bolivia; Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank; Shri J.C. Kala, Indian Director General of Forests; and Oliver Consolo, European NGOs Confederation for Relief and Development (CONCORD)

Achim Steiner; Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Hillary Masundire, University of Botswana, Chair, IUCN Commision on Ecosystem Management

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), refuted the myth that cooperation donors and partner countries have no interest in biodiversity, and asserted that both must address the link between conservation and social and economic policy. To mainstream biodiversity in sustainable development, he said it must be linked with policies on climate change, infrastructure development, economic policy instruments such as green taxation, and markets and trade. He said that rational investment policies must include biodiversity.

Presentation of the findings of the preparatory phase

Hillary Masundire, University of Botswana, and Chair of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, summarized the conference background document. He noted the importance of ecosystem services for human well-being as well as the intrinsic value of biodiversity, and highlighted eight proposed actions, including: upscaling existing biodiversity initiatives; finding more “breathing space” for biodiversity issues through dialogue with partner countries; improving mainstreaming of biodiversity by donor and partner countries; and improving coherence with non-development issues, particularly trade.

Stressing the need to address causes of poverty rather than its effects, he highlighted biodiversity conservation as a route to poverty alleviation as well as the reverse. As remaining challenges he identified: building capacity; enhancing training; addressing quality as well as quantity; good governance; and engagement of civil society. He confronted claims that: development programmes that ignore environmental factors are not true development programmes; protected areas threaten biodiversity by confining protection to park areas; and non-environmental development activities such as agriculture cause the most damage to the environment.

Round Table: Bridging the gaps

Teresa Siricio Iro, Minister of Environment and Physical Development, Sudan

Abel Mamani, Minister of Water, Bolivia

Walter Kennes, Directorate-General (DG) Development, EC

This roundtable was chaired by Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP. Presentations were followed by a discussion.

Teresa Siricio Iro, Sudanese Minister of Environment and Physical Development, outlined her country’s legal environmental framework. Noting that poverty reduction is constrained by civil unrest and lack of resources, she drew attention to the signing of the Darfur agreement, which put and end to the conflict in southern Sudan. On the way forward, she recommended the enhancement of technology transfer, capacity building and the relationship with international donors to mobilize resources, as well as the removal of sanctions and trade barriers.

Abel Mamani, Minister of Water, Bolivia, discussed clean water as a human right and described Bolivian policies to attain its realization, including elements of the new constitution and laws addressing industrial wastes and agriculture. He said legal effects even include employment rights, such as the benefit to fishermen of reducing water pollution.

Walter Kennes, Directorate-General (DG) Development, EC, highlighted the explicit recognition by the European Consensus on Development of environment and environmental mainstreaming as priority areas. He said the EU is increasing commitment to development cooperation, including through increased funding for environment and biodiversity issues. He noted that much remains unknown about the relationship between poverty alleviation and biodiversity, and called for enhanced capacity building.

Shri J.C. Kala, Indian Director General of Forests

Oliver Consolo, European NGOs Confederation for Relief and Development (CONCORD)

Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank

Shri J.C. Kala, Indian Director General of Forests, called for stabilizing the world population and making sustainable development “the way of life” rather than the exception. He explained how biodiversity conservation can lead to improved quality of life and that success stories should be used to convince governments to invest more in biodiversity.

Simon Brooks, Vice President, European Investment Bank (EIB), discussed ensuring biodiversity conservation in EIB projects. He said that beyond seeking to minimize damage to biodiversity with its projects, EIB can also be proactive and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IUCN to draw on its networks of experts.

Olivier Consolo, Director, European NGOs’ Confederation for Relief and Development (CONCORD), addressed bridging four types of gaps between: different efforts undertaken by compartmentalized disciplines; intentions on paper versus actions on the ground; governments’ and institutions’ intentions versus civil society engagement; and standards of good governance applied to partner countries versus those applied to donors themselves.

Participants during the intervention of Simon Brooks

William J. Jackson, World Programme, IUCN, explained that the conference’s outputs will comprise of a report of the proceedings and a Message from Paris. He stated that the Message has to be brief and to the point, and that the drafting team will include the chairs of the workshops, representatives of countries, NGOs and the EC. He added that the Message will be presented to the EU presidency.

Around the conference

Delegation from Uganda and Kenya

Participants during the evening reception

Web coverage:
Tuesday, 19 September - Wednesday, 20 September - Thursday, 21 September
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