Helen Clark: Speech at a Special High-Level Luncheon Event: “Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” Convention on Biological Diversity COP-13

Dec 2, 2016

Through its Green Commodities Programme, UNDP works with countries to address the root causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and rural poverty in commodity farming communities. Credit: UNDP

I am pleased to join you today to discuss the critical importance of biodiversity for sustainable development, and I thank our Mexican hosts for organizing this important luncheon.

The earth’s biodiversity is the very foundation of human survival and well-being. Losing it not only has serious implications for our natural environment: it also undermines livelihoods, health, and food and water security – particularly for the world’s poorest and rural populations. 
It is critical, therefore, to recognize that maintaining biodiversity is not only related to direct conservation measures, but also to pursuing poverty eradication and human development in ways which are sustainable. 

This calls for mainstreaming biodiversity into all aspects of development, across areas such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining, energy, tourism, and transport. Several of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets explicitly call for such mainstreaming action, and others have mainstreaming implications. The proposed Cancun Declaration is very clear on this point, which is commendable.

At UNDP, we have a longstanding commitment to mainstreaming biodiversity, working with a range of partners including the Global Environment Facility (GEF). 

With the largest biodiversity and ecosystems portfolio in the UN system - consisting of around 400 projects in 120 countries and worth more than $1.6 billion in grants and $5.1 billion in co-financing - we support a large number of partners to mainstream biodiversity into their development action. 

Some examples:

•    With financing from the GEF, we have supported work aimed at ensuring that activities in economic sectors, such as mining and agriculture, have minimal impacts on more than 250 million hectares of mixed-use landscapes and seascapes. 

Here in Mexico, for example, we assisted with 3.1 million hectares of forests being certified as responsibly managed. We helped bring indigenous and local communities together with more than twenty Community Forest Enterprises to strengthen sustainable forestry practices and ensure community benefits.

•    Through UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance Project – BIOFIN - we are supporting thirty countries to mainstream biodiversity into national budgets. This includes measuring biodiversity expenditure, assessing long-term financial needs, and identifying and developing effective solutions to bridge national biodiversity finance gaps. 

Some results of this work include the integration of biodiversity considerations in public investment guidelines in Peru: the development of a new finance mechanism for biodiversity-based Corporate Social Responsibility payments in India; and a new mechanism for the use of land fees for conservation in Guatemala;

•    Through its Green Commodities Programme, UNDP works with countries to address the root causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and rural poverty in commodity farming communities. To date, eleven countries have established National Commodity Platforms which offer neutral spaces where stakeholders can develop a shared vision and agenda for sustainable commodity production. 

In Costa Rica, for example, under the auspices of the National Commodity Platform on Pineapples, more than fifty stakeholder groups, including big buyers like TESCO and Walmart, reached consensus on a comprehensive action plan to promote sustainable pineapple production; and

•    under the UNDP-UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative, we are supporting countries to integrate poverty eradication and environmental sustainability concerns into planning, budgeting, implementation, and monitoring of national and sub-national policy frameworks. 

From these, and many other examples of where UNDP is supporting biodiversity mainstreaming, we have come to appreciate that biodiversity is not simply an element which needs to be added on to the policies, plans, and practices of productive sectors. Instead biodiversity needs to be viewed as an indivisible component of, and often a prerequisite for, achieving sustainable development – including the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

We have seen this clearly through our extensive support to over 3,000 protected areas, where conservation efforts have not only benefited the environment, but have also had numerous positive benefits for the lives and livelihoods of the local communities. 

For that reason, UNDP views the implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) – called for by the CBD - as a critical pathway and potential catalyst for early action on the SDGs. In partnership with UNEP and the CBD Secretariat, we are currently establishing a NBSAP Support Facility aimed at helping countries to unlock the enormous potential of biodiversity and ecosystems for sustainable development and SDG achievement. The Facility would provide both technical and financial support, and we look to partners to support this work.  

In conclusion, let me thank our hosts once more for bringing us together here today and assure you that UNDP is firmly committed to the success of this COP.

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