The rise of the Africa biosafety commitments in the action agenda

BY EDEL-QUINN AGBAEGBU

Our society is linked with our biodiversity quite intimately. Biological diversity; the variety within species among the ecosystems is essential for our planet, human wellbeing and cultural heritage of the people. Its gradual loss due to some factors represents a salient emergency that threatens and undermines efforts to eradicate poverty. This degradation impacts directly on progress towards sustainability and people’s livelihood. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on humanity further highlighted the significance of this relationship and people’s dependency on biodiversity. It is evident that the crisis is linked to humanity, impacting biodiversity degradation and its subsequent loss. Thus, there is urgent need to re-direct human activities, so as to reverse biodiversity loss and accelerate action to conserve and restore biodiversity for sustainable developments.

The Sharm El-Sheik to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People (Action Agenda) aims to promote positive gains to 2030. As an engagement Platform, the action agenda will help to raise awareness on the urgent need to halt the loss of biodiversity and restore healthy ecosystems. This could be harnessed through a whole-of-society approach, for the transformative changes needed to achieve the 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature.

In the efforts to build momentum towards achieving this Vision, the Action Agenda invites positive actions in support of nature. These will be highlighted to set the stage for an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework. It also aims to promote and showcase a groundswell of commitments from non-state actors, to safeguard and reverse biodiversity loss, provide momentum towards the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to be adopted in 2021, at COP 15 in Kunming, China and contribute towards its implementation.

The Action Agenda will reinforce existing commitments and platforms and inspire further commitments from all sectors and stake holders. As of 17 September, 2020, a total of 143 commitments with key actions have been published in the Action Agenda, including the commitment from the Every Woman Hope Centre, (EWHC), a Nigerian non-governmental organisation (NGO). With the EWHC commitment, Africa’s commitment on biosafety is the first biosafety commitment of 143 commitments published on the Action Agenda at: https://www.cbd.int/action-agenda/contributions/action/?action-id=5f486c36b704c80001b000db

The distribution of the actions for the Sharm El-Sheik to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People in a global map

In the commitment, EWHC pledge to mobilize strategic plans and actions, for public awareness of biosafety and biodiversity issues, as well as to disseminate adequate information on implementation strategies to facilitate awareness-raising activities to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030. In the upcoming webinar for biosafety and biodiversity, EWHC targets fostering communication that will ensure that by 2025, people are aware of the meaning and values of biosafety and biodiversity as well as steps they can take to use them for sustainable development.

The webinar will highlight the connections between biodiversity, food security and sustainable agriculture, improved health systems, societies, and economies. Biodiversity loss shall be adequately addressed, in particular for; poverty and hunger eradication, economic development, sustainable jobs and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The webinar will seek to foster ambitions and investments towards the restoration of biodiversity and the implementation of nature-based solutions, as well as approaches for equitable sharing of assets and benefits from biodiversity. Actors will be encouraged to demonstrate commitment to accelerate actions on biosafety and biodiversity for sustainable development. 

EWHC also pledged to promote awareness among policy makers, professionals, private sectors and the general public by developing and implementing educational awareness programs on biosafety and biodiversity issues. The organization demonstrates a commitment to enhance involvement of the indigenous peoples and local communities as well as, women and youth to promote public understanding and stewardship in line with the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the Implementation Plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This is the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development. It provides a great opportunity to halt biodiversity loss and promote its conservation and sustainable use. It calls for urgent actions across all sectors and actors; and no one should be left behind.

Another EWHC’s action in the commitment is that by 2025, at the latest, all stakeholders, including students and educators are aware of the values of biodiversity. The organisation shall focus on implementing the Implementation Plan for the Cartagena Protocol, including the adoption of the plan at the next COP-MOP in 2021. The aim is to expand the knowledge of biodiversity and environmental sustainability, promote biodiversity research and innovations on conservation.

The main indicators to measure the aspired achievements of EWHC strategic plans for biosafety or biodiversity in the coming years include; the extent of incorporation of biosafety and biodiversity in national curriculum. This shall serve as a measurement of progress in the educational systems. In addition, results of possible survey studies to capture attitudes and behavioural changes among communities and their relative increased participation in biodiversity conservation and related issues will be measurable. Other indicators include the level of consequent development of the internal systems and procedures to strengthen the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in biodiversity management, including youth and gender considerations; and an assessment of utilization and compliance to biosafety rules and regulations.

The EWHC commitment is a great inspiration for subsequent African biosafety commitments, that can create a groundswell of action for nature from all sectors and non-state actors. We need all African leaders including from non-state actors, to show ambition and commitment, as well as integrate actions to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss and mainstream biodiversity actions across all sectors government, economy and society.

There are various means to support biosafety and biodiversity actions, including through harnessing science and technology, innovations, strengthening capacity building and financing partnerships for biodiversity and biosafety. African leaders therefore, should identify implementation priorities and demonstrate initiatives and commitment to deliver the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework for the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. This is very important so that Africa can become a role model. EWHC should be congratulated for this great achievement and initiative in this commitment for Nigeria and Africa on a global stage. It is highly commendable, as the EWHC commitment meets with the SDGs and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets very satisfactorily.

Edel-Quinn Ijeoma Agbaegbu is the Founder / Executive Director of EWHC; and the Nigeria’s Country Representative of Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Voluntary Peer Review (VPR) Process, for National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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