E-Learning, Synergies and Implementation of the Biodiversity Conventions
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The world of biodiversity governance is complex, from numerous treaties and conventions to scientific and technical issues and the substantial jargon that both these legal and scientific communities generate.

Assistance is now available through e-learning courses from InforMEA, a project of the Multilateral Environment Agreement Information and Knowledge Management (MEA IKM) initiative.

The world of biodiversity governance is complex, from numerous treaties and conventions to scientific and technical issues and the substantial jargon that both these legal and scientific communities generate. Assistance is now available through e-learning courses from InforMEA, a project of the Multilateral Environment Agreement Information and Knowledge Management (MEA IKM) initiative.

The objective of the e-learning tools developed by InforMEA is to build knowledge and greater understanding of international environmental law. This policy update explores how the biodiversity e-learning courses contribute to overcoming key challenges in biodiversity governance: enhancing implementation and promoting cooperation among bodies undertaking biodiversity-related work.

InforMEA offers three biodiversity e-courses on: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR); and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which is intended for CMS national focal points. The first two courses, on the CBD and Plant Genetic Resources, provide a focused introduction to the provisions in both international legal instruments useful for a range of stakeholders, from civil society to national focal points or delegations.

Protecting and sustainably managing biodiversity requires the participation of multiple stakeholders, and enhancing their knowledge of international biodiversity law facilitates implementation. The CBD course explains the provisions of article 8j, which centers on the need for the effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities as a key part of implementation at national and international levels. Other civil society groups, particularly women, are equally important to efforts to implement the agreements related to plant genetic resources and migratory species. The accessibility of the e-learning courses, and the glossary of terms, can facilitate these actors’ participation in implementation.

In particular, indigenous peoples and local communities are central to international efforts to secure access to genetic resources and benefit sharing from their use (ABS). The e-courses on the CBD and the ITPGR explain ABS, with sufficient context underlining its importance (particularly in the videos). The complexity of ABS has limited implementation of ABS provisions under the CBD, and in part, prompted negotiations leading to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS).[1] With 54 ratifications, the Nagoya protocol entered into force on 12 October 2014.[2] Yet, this complexity remains, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and understanding by all stakeholders with regard to ABS and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

Developing countries are also important actors in implementation, as sustainable development became a “resounding theme” for biodiversity in 2014, and as noted repeatedly at last year’s meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD, and to the CMS.[3] In 2014, the CMS Secretariat launched a new online portal for national reporting, which by June 2014, received national reports from 59 of the 118 eligible parties. National reporting is an important tool for monitoring implementation. By providing national focal points guidance on reporting (and other issues), the CMS e-course helps support CMS Parties’ and other stakeholders’ current consideration of compliance and review mechanisms. National focal points are also key points of contact for the “CMS family” of agreements, as well as with the CBD, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Improving the understanding of stakeholders and national focal points of international biodiversity law can promote cooperation between many bodies working on the issues at hand. In 2014 alone, multiple bodies adopted decisions and made commitments with regard to marine biodiversity and wildlife crime.[4]Promoting understanding of the various processes and their provisions that work to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity across a wide range ecosystems helps reduce the risk of fragmentation and duplication of efforts. A CMS national focal point with an understanding of the provisions of CBD and CITES is better equipped to collaborate with their CBD and CITES counterparts on the protection and management of marine biodiversity, for example.

The courses do not directly address current challenges facing implementation of biodiversity-related conventions and the resultant gap between the aspirations expressed in the conventions and treaties, and on the ground results. Yet, by promoting understanding of the provisions in these conventions and treaty, these e-courses contribute to further implementation. The accessible language and clear layout of the courses will enable many stakeholders to learn about these agreements, empowering their role in national implementation through effective participation and promoting synergies among the many biodiversity-related initiatives.

The UN Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements and its introductory courses can be accessed here.


[2] Biodiversity Policy and Practice: News Story on Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing Enters into Force.

[3] Biodiversity Policy and Practice: Policy Update #3:‘Biodiversity in 2014: A Year in Review.’

[4] Ibid.

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