The international community is just four years away from its target goal to reduce rates of global biodiversity loss. At the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Curitiba, Brazil from March 20-31 CI will join numerous civil society, government, business, and community delegations to assess progress made toward this goal and new challenges facing global biodiversity conservation.
What is the CBD?
The CBD is the preeminent convention on biodiversity and is a resulting accord of the landmark 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro also known as the "Earth Summit." It calls for the significant reduction of biodiversity loss worldwide by 2010 and beyond, both as a matter of environmental concern and toward the reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development around the globe. It has been ratified by 187 countries and the European Union.
Every two years, the Conference of the Parties the CBD's governing body convenes to take stock of conservation milestones, discuss challenges, and redress objectives and success indicators accordingly. In addition to providing scientific expertise, CI will engage in policy
discussions and in developing conservation strategies that better promote human welfare. In preparatory meetings, CI also helped shape the COP8 agenda to address conservation issues of particular relevance, including: the delicate and threatened biodiversity of islands, the impact of invasive species
, the creation and effective management of protected areas, biodiversity and climate change
, and the proper acknowledgment and use of traditional knowledge in conservation strategies.
CI at the COP8
Primarily due to its work in the Biodiversity Hotspots and its contributions to the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), CI was involved in the creation of the CBD's newly proposed program on island biodiversity. Defined here as landmasses smaller than Greenland, CI is encouraging participating nations to recognize these vulnerable and confined ecosystems and take action to prevent them. During the COP8, CI scientists will host several events and presentations on the topic to demonstrate the value of such targeted conservation action to decisionmakers.
"We hope a Program of Work on island biodiversity can greatly advance needed actions to preserve the integrity of fragile, insular, and generally irreplaceable biological communities," says CI Chief Science and Conservation Officer Gustavo Fonseca. "CBD thematic programs and policies such as this provide guidance and standards for in-country implementation and often highlight important needs, such as ecological or funding gaps."
CI also was involved in the first working group on the CBD's protected areas program. Approved for implementation in February 2004, the program recognizes protected areas as among the most effective mechanisms for addressing the highest priorities in biodiversity conservation worldwide a mechanism that already forms the cornerstone of CI's own conservation strategies. This year, CI and others are emphasizing not only the need to continue creating protected areas, but also their need for sound financing and effective management.
Alongside the COP8, CI and its partners in the Equator Initiative will host a community event to underscore the central role that local and indigenous communities
play in sustainable development and conservation another crosscutting philosophy in CI's work. Designed to be a communication forum, the "Community Taba" will highlight success stories of grassroots initiatives and facilitate dialogue between community leaders and participating delegations of the COP.
Aligning Principles and Work
At its core, the CBD embodies principles that are significantly aligned with CI's mission, including biodiversity conservation, the sustainable use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arise from biodiversity use. Furthermore, its encouragement of partnerships between governments, NGOs, business leaders, and indigenous and local communities mirrors CI's philosophy of engaging all sectors of society in conservation. For these reasons, CI continues to dedicate considerable resources to ensure its work is aligned with CBD objectives, and to support developing countries in their implementation and achievement of CBD commitments. In varying capacities on country delegations, in pre-COP preparatory meetings, as members of subcommittees CI has been involved in the CBD for many years and continues to grow its engagement.
"Our hope is that a strong presence and participation in the COP meeting will continue to enable and improve our ability to efficiently and effectively achieve our conservation goals in all of our priority areas," says Fonseca.