By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
The government of Sierra Leone through the Environment Protection Agency has held from 22nd-23rd August 2013 the first national workshop on the revision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in other to develop the fifth National report to the Convention on Biological Diversity for the coming conference of parties. This came after the EPASL has entered into an agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to revise the decade old NBSAP and to prepare the 5th National Report to the CBD. In that regard, a National Report Coordination Team has already been set up by the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone to ensure that the revision of the NBSAP and the preparation of the 5th National Report to the CBD are effectively and efficiently coordinated.
According to the Project Manager, Ralph Bona component one of the project involves Stocktaking and Assessment where the country will involve in rapid stocktaking and review of relevant plans, policies and reports; identification of stakeholders and raising awareness and, rapid assessment of the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss highlighting the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services and their contribution to Human well-being which will be done by the national consultants before it is discussed by the stakeholders.
Dr. Bona noted that the 5th National Report will be prepared in accordance with the Convention on Biodiversity Diversity guidelines to be submitted to the CBD Secretariat and in both hard and electronic format before or by 30th March 2014.
The Executive Director of Conservation Society of Sierra Leone as well as Chairperson of the workshop, Dr. Sama Monde first of commended the Executive Chairperson of the EPA-SL and her formidable management team for coming first among government parastatals in the recently conducted performance assessment exercise conducted by the Office of the President. Dr. Monde reminded participants that it was at the Earth summit in Rio de Janero, Brazil that the Convention on Biological diversity was formulated in 1992 to serve as the flag bearer instrument to guide world on best practices to balance conservation, sustainable utilization and development.
Sierra Leone ratified the CBD in 1996 and the COP to the CBD declared national strategies and action plans as road maps at national level for the implementation of the CBD. Sierra Leone prepared its first NBSAP in 2003 and Dr. Monde said since then Sierra Leone has submitted two national reports to the CBD on the achievements and attendant challenges. He said the workshop intended to revise that decade old document with the view to “incorporating emerging biodiversity and mainstreaming biodiversity strategies and actions into government strategies and plans”.
Below is an excerpt of speech of the Director of the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, Dr. Kolleh A Bangura…
“I am very pleased to be with you here today to give a speech on behalf of the Executive Chairman at the First National Workshop on the Revision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan– an extremely important day for the Sierra Leone, and for its people. Biological diversity is the miraculous result of life’s evolution over billions of years. Biodiversity and the ecosystems services that it provides underpin our economy and our civilization. Healthy biodiversity is not a luxury – it is the foundation of all life on earth.
Yet largely due to our activities, the rich ecosystem that we depend on is in crisis. Habitat degradation, invasion of alien species, overharvesting and pollution is leading to the dramatic extinction of species as IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species for Sierra Leone shows. This is alarming. In addition the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment indicates that in the past 50 years, 60 percent of the world’s ecosystems are degraded. Loss of biodiversity reduces our food, medicine, clean air and water. The ecosystem that human beings rely on is fragile.
The protection of biodiversity and ensuring that our use of nature is sustainable and it is a global mission. To meet this challenge, Sierra Leone and 193 other countries joined the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to set common goals and targets and to make strategies and action plans to meet them.
In October 2010, 20 Aichi Targets were agreed on at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP 10 in Japan. The Aichi targets define a roadmap and timeline for global bio-diversity protection, and this has become the guiding tool for the parties to take actions at national levels to implement the convention. At the COP11 held during October 2012 in India, the parties underlined their determination again, and agreed to increase resources to reverse the downward trend of bio-diversity loss and achieve the 20 Aichi Targets. Developed countries promised that the investment should be doubled by 2015. The United Nations has furthered these ambitions by declaring 2011-2020, the Decade on Bio-diversity, as the critical 10 years to ensure the survival of our natural systems.
Honorable Ministers, Honorable Members of Parliament, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen Sierra Leone has very rich bio-diversity of its own. It hosts one of the only six biodiversity hotspots in the African Continent and amongst the 200 eco-regions of the world. The 2012 IUCN Red List cites over 3,000 plant and animal species living in Sierra Leone, and nearly 500 species of these are under threat. Therefore Sierra Leone has a leading role to play in global biodiversity conservation. Without Sierra Leone’s active participation, it will be a great setback in protecting biodiversity globally and ensure that we live sustainably.
To implement the Convention of Biological Diversity, Sierra Leone has created its Strategy and Action Plan for Bio-diversity Conservation, which defines the overall goal, strategic objectives and prioritized actions of bio-diversity conservation in Sierra Leone and it is this plan that is going to be updated and is the basis for this meeting. A national committee has been set up to coordinate biodiversity conservation work to ensure its implementation
I would like to make a special note of Sierra Leone’s progress in establishing protected areas because the theme of this year’s biodiversity commemoration day on the globe is “bio-diversity and protected areas”. The percentage of the protected areas in Sierra Leone’s territory is far beyond the average level expected. Sierra Leone’s progress is already recognized by international organizations and other countries.
IUCN has biodiversity conservation at its core. With its large world-wide network of Members and Commissions, spanning all sectors of society, united in a common goal of conserving nature and its bio-diversity, IUCN contributes knowledge products, such as the Red List of Threatened Species and the World Database on Protected Areas, for countries to assess the situations of their bio-diversity and share with protected status, and then take actions. Cooperating with the governments, research and development institutions and other experts, IUCN is actively championing the nature-based solutions approach for sustainable nature resource management and bio-diversity conservation.
At this juncture, I wish to commend the great efforts of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) the funder of this project. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an independent financial mechanism that provides grants to developing and eligible countries for projects that benefit the global environment. The GEF supports projects in biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer and persistent organic pollutants. These projects link local, national, and global environmental challenges while promoting sustainable livelihoods. The GEF serves as the designated financial mechanism for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), as well as a financial mechanism for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Since its inception in 1991 as a pilot program to address global environmental issues the GEF has granted 21,700,000 leveraging 73,340,000 in co financing of which 60% of this huge fund has been spent on biodiversity conservation.
On this important day, we appeal to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and other stakeholders to continue to establish new protected areas and support community forestry and improve their management, to take actions that implement the Convention of Biological Diversity, and ensure the achievement of the 20 Aichi targets in Sierra Leone. IUCN will fully support Sierra Leone and the world’s conservation action plans with good science, experts and all the resource we have in the field of bio-diversity conservation.
I thank you for participating in this workshop today and for many years to come.
Thanks for your kind attention”.