UN Biodiversity Conference Side Events Reaffirm SLM-Biodiversity Synergies
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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UN Biodiversity Conference side events highlighted the links between sustainable land management (SLM) and biodiversity and ecosystem protection.

The opening day of the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) coincided with World Soil Day on 5 December, was themed 'Landscape Day,' and featured the numerous connections between soils, biodiversity, land degradation and climate change.

Conference side events addressed sustainable pastoralism and natural capital accounting approaches, following up on resolutions adopted by the second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in May 2016.

December 2016: Events held at the margins of the UN Biodiversity Conference highlighted the links between sustainable land management (SLM) and biodiversity and ecosystem protection. The events featured, inter alia: tools and approaches for restoring degraded landscapes and ecosystem services; the contribution of the land-use decisions and innovation systems of smallholder farmers and pastoralists in biodiversity protection; and the role of natural capital accounting and other tools in mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into land and other sectors.

The opening day of the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP), which coincided with global celebrations of World Soil Day on 5 December, was themed ‘Landscape Day.’ It highlighted the numerous connections between soils, biodiversity, land degradation and climate change. Discussions featured the publication ‘Making Sense of Research for Sustainable Land Management,’ which distills findings from a seven-year global research project involving 100 universities and land research institutes, under the auspices of the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) Network. The publication documents practical examples of how to achieve multiple benefits from sustainable intensification at the farm level, including raising and stabilizing yields, securing ecosystems and transforming degraded land. Landscapes Day concluded with a session celebrating World Soil Day 2016 and the launch of a new FAO flagship publication, ‘Soils and Pulses – Symbiosis for Life,’ aimed at promoting sustainable soil management and achieving food security worldwide. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany co-organized Landscape Day. [WOCAT Press Release] [Rio Conventions Pavilion Website] [IISD RS Summary of Landscape Day] [IISD SDG Knowledge Hub Story on World Soil Day 2016]

Additionally, the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) convened a side-event to highlight how to mainstream soil biodiversity into global biodiversity policies, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Drawing on recent research, including the first Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas, which was published by GSBI and European Commission Joint Research Centre in May 2016, the event discussed how to estimate global soil biodiversity, as well as the main threats and ways to protect it. [Side Event Webpage] [Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas]

Another side event, convened by the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR), Bioversity International, discussed ‘Land use decisions and agricultural biodiversity.’ It addressed how local communities have maintained or created land-use systems that sustain biocultural diversity and foster dynamic processes of adaptation and restoration. Drawing on research undertaken in eight rural communities around the world, the discussions addressed how to avoid the “false dichotomy” that is often made between “land sparing” versus “land sharing” approaches in boosting agricultural productivity. The event presented a framework developed by the PAR study that can be used to help communities take account of the effect of land use decisions on agricultural biodiversity and improve sustainability. [Side Event Webpage] [IISD RS Side Event Coverage] [Land Sparing and Land Sharing – Perspectives of Indigenous Peoples and Rural Communities]

Also at the margins of the Conference, the event, ‘Achieving conservation outcomes through integrated landscape approaches,’ highlighted India’s experience with the Integrated Landscape Approaches for Conservation (ILAC) approach. The discussions covered the associated policy and governance innovations that were needed, such as new approaches for microplanning, the revival and strengthening of traditional local institutions and the integration of efforts by diverse developmental agencies. In conjunction with the event, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) launched the publication, ‘Landscape journey process tool kit for Hindukush Himalayan Region,’ aimed at improving integrated planning at landscape level. The outcome of the event will contribute to a compendium of global good practices for landscape conservation initiatives. [Side Event Webpage]

‘Mainstreaming biodiversity into production sectors,’ highlighted 15 years of experience by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) in mainstreaming biodiversity into agriculture production sectors in 57 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, through global as well as single country Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded projects. The event showcased a range of tools and approaches that have been tested and developed as result of these projects as well as their application into landscape restoration practices aimed at sustaining the delivery of ecosystem services, increasing climate adaptation options and strengthening resilience to climate change. [Side Event Webpage] [Bioversity International Press Release]

The side event titled, ‘World’s Grasslands and Rangelands at risk: the Role of Pastoralists and Livestock to Conserve Global Biodiversity,’ was convened by a diverse network of international development agencies and research organizations in follow up to the adoption of Resolution 24 by the second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in May 2016. The resolution recognizes that sustainable pastoralist practices are critical to achieving food security, resilient local and regional economies, cultural diversity, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, carbon sequestration, and land and water rehabilitation. The event highlighted diverse examples of how pastoral practices and environmental stewardship have benefited biodiversity conservation and some benefits and opportunities of sustainable pastoralism for achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including inter alia: conserving the biodiversity of endangered rangelands; maintaining the genetic diversity of livestock; and sustainable tourism in pastoralist-managed nature conservancies. [Side Event Webpage] [UNEA-2 Resolution 24 on Combating desertification, land degradation and drought and promoting sustainable pastoralism and rangelands]

Also linked to an UNEA-2 outcome, the side event on ‘Mainstreaming through Natural Capital Accounting and Resource Mobilization in Southern and Eastern Africa,’ which was convened by the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) Initiative and partners, highlighted African experiences in mainstreaming biodiversity into national and regional decision-making processes through the use of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) approaches. Presentations outlined evidence-based approaches to addressing externalities in Africa’s development models and how to build existing initiatives and strengthen synergies among them. In Resolution 13, UNEA-2 identifies the sustainable management of natural capital as one of the useful frameworks for the purpose of monitoring and reporting on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as for mainstreaming biodiversity and natural capital into decision-making. UN Biodiversity Conference discussions suggested that using NCA as an entry point for resource mobilization could help bridge the significant financing gaps in biodiversity management, and help countries scale up their efforts and achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The event also reported on the GDSA’s work as a 10-country “action platform” and emerging regional community of practice. [Side Event Webpage] [UNEA-2 Resolution 13 on Sustainable management of natural capital for sustainable development and poverty eradication]


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