Remarks by Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator: 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity

17 Oct 2012

Honorable President of the COP, Minister of Environment and Forests for India, Srimati. Jayanthi Natarajan,

Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP,

Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity,

Honorable Ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Human survival and wellbeing depend upon biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, and the goods and services they provide. Yet, in recent decades, the world has experienced unprecedented biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, undermining the very foundations of life on Earth.

Rapid demographic changes, unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, combined with climate change, are pushing our planet to its limits.

It is usually the poor and the vulnerable that are most affected, as they depend on ecosystem goods and services for their basic needs and livelihoods. Biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation are undermining hard-won development gains, taxing societies and saddling the international community with extremely high costs clearly compromising efforts to achieve equitable and sustainable development as clearly stated in the 2011 Human Development report published by UNDP.

If this is to be halted, the integration of biodiversity and ecosystems management into the development and poverty reduction agenda needs to be promoted — whereby biodiversity is not only addressed as a problem to be solved, but also as a way to achieve more resilient societies and broader social and economic goals. We need to build ashared vision and commitment to ‘biodiversity for development’.

This was emphasized in the outcome document at the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development, that places biodiversity and ecosystem management at the heart of international efforts to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable human development.

Looking beyond 2015, the target year for the MDGs, Member States decided at Rio to launch a process for designing Sustainable Development Goals, starting with the establishment of an Open Working Group of the General Assembly.

UNDP will work closely with the UN system to support the Open Working Group as well as with the High-Level Panel nominated by the Secretary General on the post-2015 development agenda.

Our objective is to help Member States arrive at a unified set of concise, clear and measurable development goals that keep poverty reduction at their core and at the same time recognize and address broader sustainable development challenges – including the importance of conserving biodiversity.

To that end, UNDP is committed to play its part, working closely with different partners inside and outside the UN system such as UNEP and the Global Environment Facility.

Indeed, UNDP is further solidifying its substantial work in this area — as exemplified in our new ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystems Global Framework’, which will be launched here in Hyderabad.

The Framework underpins UNDP’s contribution to the global commitment to the CBD Strategic Plan and our support to countries in their efforts to achieve the Aichi Targets by 2020. It outlines the real value of biodiversity and ecosystems to society and calls for triple win solutions that simultaneously advance economic, social, and environmental objectives and manage adverse tradeoffs.

Based on this Framework, UNDP’s work on biodiversity and ecosystems is now organized into three signature programmes that address the governance, market and livelihood barriers that are hampering conservation efforts . These are:

  • a programme focusing on the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem management into development planning and production sector activities; 
  • a programme focusing on the strengthening of protected areas - including indigenous and community conserved areas - so that they are better managed and financed and can contribute to sustainable development, and; 
  • a programme on ecosystem-based climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

With four decades of experience working in 146 countries in the biodiversity and ecosystems field, UNDP partnering with other important stakeholders in this field and our sister agencies, is well placed to provide effective support to governments in translating global agreements on biodiversity and ecosystems into national development actions.

As a result of UNDP’s work to date, and in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, production practices in a range of sectors, from agriculture to fisheries, tourism and extractive industries, have been modified to conserve biodiversity and strengthen livelihoods in an area of over three hundred million hectares of production land. UNDP has also strengthened the management of an area of 272 million hectares of protected areas, including marine and terrestrial protected areas, and indigenous and community conservation areas.

As the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity go about making statements today, I invite you all to seek common ground. You will of course bring different concerns and priorities to the table. But the challenges in front of us require thoughtful and creative consideration of where compromise can be reached. We must all do everything in our power to ensure that Parties are equipped to meet the Aichi Targets and fulfill the hard-won agreement reached at Nagoya.

The future of our planet hangs in the balance. We have a window of opportunity between now and 2020 to make a fundamental shift in the way we view our nations’ natural capital – to shore it up as a vital development asset for food and water security, and an insurance policy against climate change. Let us rise to the challenge.

I thank you.

About Rebeca Grynspan
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Rebeca Grynspan was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the position of UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator effective 1 February, 2010. Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Grynspan was elected Vice-President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998.

Full Biography