Regions for Biodiversity: achieving the Aichi targets

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Between the 30th June – 1st of July, Barcelona host an International Conference about the Aichi Targets and the role of regions for biodiversity, where the main challenges and responsibilities of regions to enhance biodiversity were highlighted. Teresa Pastor, EUROPARC’s Project and Policy Development Manager, attended the Conference and shared a brief resume of the main topics discussed and some good examples that were presented.

Responsibilities in biodiversity issues come with competencies and regional governments usually hold them in the fields of biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development. However, the global economic crisis has been translated into a decrease in economic resources assigned to regional governments by states and, in some cases, a (re)centralisation of competencies. Moreover, some regional governments experience accrued difficulties when they are of a different political party as the central one.

Local and regional governments are closer to biodiversity issues and therefore to solutions. In the opinion of Joan Puigdomenech – Councilor for the Environment and Commissioner for Citizen Participation of Sant Cugat del Vallès City Council,

the most effective level of government to deal with biodiversity matters is the regional one.

The local level is too tight and often lacks enough human and/or economic resources, especially in rural areas. Joan Puigdomenech also considers that there is an increasing role of a 4th level of governance, represented by social movements (groups of citizens that decide to act in environmental issues, sometimes with full independence from local administration).

International Conference - Regions for Biodiversity, Barcelona, 2016Marcelino Chumpi – from Amazonia in Ecuador – denounces that regions are theoretically “autonomous” to act and plan on the territory, with a big exception: when the State considers it of Strategic Interest. Then the State skips all rules.

Even if regional governments cannot be subject of international laws, in a globalized world, they can sign Memorandums of Understanding, Collaborations and they can have a voice (without vote). Regions should show leadership and highlight the areas in which they are good at and support the regions that are not able to follow in order to accelerate transmission of knowledge.

Coming opportunities

The IUCN is very much promoting Nature-based solutions as a means of solving the current environmental threats: climate change and biodiversity loss.  This requires a mindset change of many people, from people living in a territory to policy-makers. Luc Bas, European Regional Office Director IUCN, encourages regional/subnationals governments to attend the next IUCN congress that will take place in Hawaii from 1 to 10 September 2016.

Next COP 13 -Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)- will take place in Cancun, Mexico, 4 – 17 December 2016. There will be a special session for local governments. It will be an opportunity to discuss how the Biodiversity Agenda (CBD) will contribute to the Aichi targets and SDG (Sustainable Development goals).

Regions present diversity of competences and of representation in CBD. Some regions are national delegations and, as such, have to coordinate with national authorities. An advantage of being an external region is that you can say things that other regions cannot.

Intereting interventions

SÃO PAULO DISTRICT (Brasil)

Martina Müller, International Advisor at the São Paulo State Secretariat for the Environment, explains that great efforts have been made to counteract the Biodiversity loss in Amazonia by performing massive reforestations and ecosystem restauration to ensure water supply since São Paulo has recently experienced severe droughts.

Deforestation rates have decreased thanks to the incorporation of new technology (drones and satellites) that allows the government to monitor vast territories that otherwise are hard to control with limit human resources.

FLANDERS (Belgium)

Matthias de Moor, Policy Advisor for International Environmental Affairs, from the Government of Flanders, identifies 4 main threats to biodiversity in his region: ( i) hunting, (ii) degradation of rural landscape by cultivation and fire, (iii) introduction of invasive alien species and (iv) the impact of climate change.

Human activities are allowed in Natura 2000 sites; a system of subsidies has been implemented to favour ambitious Biodiversity targets from land-owners. Further collaboration with military sections has also been undertaken. In order to involve society; a contest “1000 ideas for Biodiversity” has been put in place.

Greening of cities – specially related with health issues- is very developed.

New strategies have been put into place focusing on prevention and early warning mechanisms to reduce invasive alien species.

BASQUE COUNTRY (Spain)

Alex Boto, Director of Nature and Environmental Planning, from the Government of the Basque Country, stresses the importance of COMMUNICATION, the need for professional communication and to show the link of Biodiversity and Economy (ecosystem services).  Only 8 % of the Basque population knows about the Natura 2000 network.

The Basque country is about to approve the Basque Biodiversity Strategy 2030. In this new plan the key step has to come up with a good diagnosis of the situation. The director thinks that more proportion of the budget should be invested in taking action and communication & social involvement than doing inventories.

BARCELONA PROVINCE (Spain)

Carles Castell, Head of the Land Planning and Assessment Office, Provincial Council of Barcelona, puts forward 4 steps in order to get the Aichi goals.

  • Go back to the basis = Protection of land in order to ensure the delivery of Ecosystem services.
  • Integrate Biodiversity in all policy sectors
  • Use a strategic approach such as the Green Infrastructure. The best way to apply it is through Land-planning.
  • Social communication + raise awareness in order to get strong social and political support otherwise it will be very difficult to attain the conservation goals.

The Conference was organized by the Catalan government in cooperation with the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD), the global voice of subnational (regional) governments. Established in 2002 at the World Summit of Johannesburg, today nrg4SD totals 50 subnational governments from 30 countries and 7 associations of subnational governments.nrg4sd

About the Aichi Targets

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets were developed within the United Nations Decade for Biodiversity. They are the guiding principles of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, and focus in 5 main Strategic Goals:

Strategic Goal A: Mainstream Biodiversity

Target 1: People are aware of biodiversity and what they can do to conserve it.
Target 2: Biodiversity is integrated into the planning strategies and accounting of nations and local regions.
Target 3: Socio-economic incentives, such as subsidies, are shifted from environmentally harmful areas to areas protecting biodiversity.
Target 4: Governments, businesses and people have taken steps towards sustainable production within ecological limits.

Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressure on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
Target 5: Rate of loss of natural habitats is significantly reduced.
Target 6: Aquatic ecosystems are managed sustainably
Target 7: Agriculture, aquaculture and forestry and managed sustainably
Target 8: Pollution is brought to ecologically safe limits
Target 9: Invasive alien species are controlled, managed and prevented.
Target 10: Anthropogenic pressures on vital and vulnerable ecosystems are minimized. (2015)

Strategic Goal C: Ecosystems, species and genetic diversity are safe-guarded
Target 11: Aquatic ecosystems are managed and protected.
Target 12: Extinction of species is prevented, and the status of threatened species is improved and sustained.
Target 13: The genetic diversity of cultivated and domestic species is protected.

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
Target 14: Ecosystems that provide essential and valuable services are restored and safe-guarded.
Target 15: The contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks is enhanced, to contribute to climate change mitigation.
Target 16: The “Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization” is operational (2015).

Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

Target 17: Each party has a national strategy and action plan (2015)
Target 18: Indigenous and local knowledge in relation to biodiversity is respected and integrated.
Target 19: Science and technology related to biodiversity are improved and applied.
Target 20: Financial resources are mobilized to assist in implementation of the Strategic Plan.

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