Sunday, September 27, 2009

Visions for Biodiversity Beyond 2010 - People, Ecosystem Services and the Climate Crisis

Chair’s conclusions from the High-Level Meeting in Strömstad, 7-9 September 2009

1. A common European understanding is emerging from our different cultures, politics and past, recognizing that the loss of nature’s capital will, in the long term, have far more severe consequences than today’s financial crisis. The loss of biodiversity, as well as the services and cultural values it provides, is taking us to one of the worst extinction periods in the history of the Earth. Investments in protection and restoration of biodiversity build natural capital, generate continuously high net returns and counteracts the economic impact of climate change.

2. Our endeavours to achieve poverty alleviation, economic growth and protection of biodiversity are all interlinked and must be pursued in an integrated effort.

3. Since most of the biodiversity and ecosystem services is impacted by land use it is of utmost importance that we move towards sustainable use in all sectors and areas. Therefore, the international community must develop a bold and cross-sectoral vision, set ambitious international action oriented targets for biodiversity and ecosystem services as a cornerstone for sustainable development and for reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

4. There are high expectations from European citizens and the international community that the EU shows strong leadership on the international biodiversity arena. Proactive leadership builds on a solid knowledge base, powerful ideas, strong commitments and the willingness to work with and listen to the needs of other countries and stakeholders.

5. The "Carta di Siracusa" on Biodiversity and the Message from Athens provide essential contributions to the development of strategic principles for the EU:s active participation in deliberations at global level on biodiversity beyond 2010. The international year of biodiversity 2010 gives us an arena where the political momentum can be built up to the special session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010 and the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, October 2010.

Strategic Principles

The economics of ecosystem services and biodiversity

• Fully integrate the economic value of ecosystem services in economic systems, in national accounting, policy assessments as well as in strategies for sustainable development.
• Make full use of the contribution of ecosystem services to an eco-efficient economy, recognising the value of natural capital as a foundation of economies and well-being

6. By better defining the economic value of biodiversity we become better equipped to sustainably use ecosystem services, and to increase their capacity in the long term. This will enable us to live from the returns of the ecosystem services without eroding the natural capital.

7. The TEEB study provides crucial information contributing to the development of new visions, targets and policies that takes full account of the economic value of ecosystem services and biodiversity.

8. New tools should be developed, to enable all countries to integrate the economic value of their natural capital and develop extended accounts which can support integration of ecosystem services in national budgeting. These tools may include, for example, green public procurement, reforming economic incentives, fiscal shift correcting prices to better reflect real values, payment for ecosystem services, investments in protected areas systems, green infrastructure and biodiversity offsets.

9. Indicators will be needed in order to follow the status of ecosystem services and the economic consequences of their decline.

10. The international regime on access and benefit sharing must be completed at CBD COP 10. The economic returns from the use of genetic resources should be shared in accordance with applicable international law.
Ecosystem services, climate change and sustainable development

• Build societies and manage ecosystems to become resilient to threats from climate change and other global environmental challenges, recognising that biodiversity is key for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
• Manage ecosystems and securing biodiversity as an integral part of the fight against poverty.

11. Managing biological diversity is a matter of survival for all humanity, a prerequisite for human well-being and a basis for development. However, since a great number of the world’s poor are more directly dependent on ecosystem services, they are more vulnerable to erosion of biological diversity.

12. Biodiversity is key for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Maintaining healthy ecosystems, resistant to stress, and avoiding non-reversible damage, is necessary for securing economic growth and reaching the Millennium Development Goals in the face of resource depletion and global environmental challenges.

13. In an eco-efficient economy, the future development needs to be maintained within the ecological boundaries of the planet. Dangerous threshold effects must be identified in time to avoid crossing such boundaries.

14. We must promote governance that learns from experience and adapts to change, in order to deal with dynamic social and ecological systems. The institutional frameworks must be reformed to enable collaborative and adaptive ecosystem based management.

15. Bridging organisations, such as advisory boards, community fora, NGOs, neutral brokers or science-policy interfaces, are key to improving ecosystem management and to deal with conflicting interests. Strategic long term planning improves the possibilities for active involvement of local communities.

16. Market forces and private capital needs to be mobilized for investments in green infrastructure, protection of biodiversity and the use of ecosystem services that sustainably maintains and build up the natural capital.

17. We need to develop and implement ecosystem based approaches to address climate change and biodiversity loss. Such approaches can include, for example, carbon capture, regulation of water flows, water purification, maintenance of fishing nurseries, protection against soil erosion and landslides, regulation of local climate and mitigating the effect of extreme weather events and forest fires.

18. The impact of European consumption on global biodiversity needs to be addressed.
A new global vision for biodiversity

• Support the coherence and efficiency of global governance of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
• Link the biodiversity, climate change and development agendas more closely together.

19. The establishment of a long term vision should be promoted. The vision should be complemented by short term measurable and action oriented targets acting as milestones.

20. The new vision should enhance awareness and should be easily understood by all stakeholders, including policy makers, business and the general public.

21. The vision and targets should address the drivers of biodiversity loss and promote integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services measures into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, programs and strategies as well as in planning processes. Therefore, sectors should adopt specific targets for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

22. The global forest cover loss should be halted by 2030 at the latest and gross tropical deforestation should be reduced by at least 50% by 2020 compared to current levels. Enhanced incentives for action on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) should therefore be created. Action in this area enables developing countries to take more active part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and as such, help building a bridge between developed and developing countries.

23. A successful outcome of UNFCCC CP 15 in Copenhagen, December 2009, is crucial for securing biodiversity and ecosystem services in the future. Ecosystem services will in turn be decisive for successfully implementing climate change policy. The new climate change regime and the vision for biodiversity must be able to support synergies between climate change, biodiversity policies and the development agenda, including rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. The REDD+ mechanism should be designed to support such synergies.

24. There are good opportunities in combining policies, programmes and incentives reducing emissions of greenhouse gas emissions from all types of land-use with restoring or securing biodiversity and ecosystem functions, thereby creating win-win solutions.

25. As conditions vary greatly between and within countries, the global governance framework must allow the flexibility necessary to adapt to local and changing conditions. Local involvement in management of ecosystem services is instrumental for sustainable economic development, and in the fight against poverty.

26. Implementation and follow up to the targets will require an improved knowledge base. Therefore, it is crucial to conclude negotiations on an Intergovernmental science-policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in time for CBD COP 10.

27. The wide recognition of the existing 2010 biodiversity target teaches us that targets need to be quantitative and time-bound in order to stimulate political interest. This has to be taken into account when mechanisms for monitoring future targets are established.

28. Progress has to be measureable, implying the necessity to specify a baseline for reference. Biodiversity indicators need to have a broad acceptance in all relevant sectors and should efficiently relate to targets. The ongoing work on indicators should be coordinated with the process of developing new biodiversity targets. By this procedure, CBD COP 10 will be able to adopt an operative package of targets and indicators.