Africa leads in biosafety commitment for action agenda

BY EDEL-QUINN AGBAEGBU

Our society is linked with our biodiversity quite intimately. The degradation of its contributions to nature through irrational human activities reflects negatively on progress towards sustainability and livelihood. The impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on humanity has further highlighted the significance of this relationship and nature’s dependence on biodiversity. It has clearly exposed the crisis facing humanity, resulting from biodiversity degradation and its subsequent loss and calls for urgent need to accelerate action on conservation and restoration towards sustainable developments.

The Sharm El-Sheik to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People aims towards reversing biodiversity loss and promoting positive gains to 2030. In her efforts to build momentum towards achieving her vision of living in harmony with nature, the Sharm El-Sharm to Kunming Action Agenda invites positive actions in support of nature; to set the stage for an ambitious global biodiversity framework in 2020. A total of 143 commitments have been published so far, including commitment from Every Woman Hope Centre, (EWHC); a Nigeria registered Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).

In her commitment, EWHC pledged to mobilize strategic plans and actions, for public awareness purposes on biosafety and biodiversity, as well as facilitate awareness-raising activities to disseminate adequate information on implementation strategies to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030. In her upcoming webinar for biosafety / 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 sustainably.

The webinar will highlight the connections between biodiversity, societies, and economies. Biodiversity loss shall be adequately addressed, essentially for; poverty eradication, economic development, sustainable jobs and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The conference shall 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 / biodiversity issues. She demonstrated commitment to enhance involvement of the indigenous local communities, women and youth, promote public understanding and stewardship according to 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.

EWHC’s target is that by 2025 at the latest, all stakeholders, including students and the teaching staff are aware of the values of biodiversity. The organisation shall focus on implementing the Implementation Plan for the Cartagena, including for the plan to be adopted at the next COP-MOP. The aim is to expand the knowledge on biodiversity and environmental sustainability, promote biodiversity research and innovations on conservation. The EWHC commitment meets with the SDGs and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets satisfactorily.

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 implementation in school systems. In addition to this, results of possible survey studies to capture attitudinal and behavioral changes among communities and their relative increased participation in biodiversity conservation and related issues are measurable tools also. Other indicators include the level of consequent development of the internal systems and procedures to strengthen the role of indigenous people and local communities in biodiversity management, including the youth and gender considerations; and an assessment of utilization and compliance to biosafety rules and regulations.

With the EWHC commitment, Africa is leading in Biosafety commitment; as it turned out to be the first and only commitment so far made, under Biosafety theme, out of 143 global commitments published on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) website: https://www.cbd.int/action-agenda/contributions/action/?action-id=5f486c36b704c80001b000db.

This is a great inspiration to others and creates a groundswell of action for nature. It is anticipated that African leaders will showcase ambition and 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 towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. This is very important at this juncture, but can Africa defend this unique mantle? For now, EWHC should be congratulated for this great achievement in flying the Nigeria flag for Africa; on a global stage.

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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