UNDP and Equator Initiative at the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC)
UNDP and Equator Initiative participated in the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Barcelona, Spain, from October 5-14, 2008. The WCC, held every four years, provides an opportunity for IUCN's member organizations, partners, and commissions to meet, discuss, debate and decide on the world's most pressing environment and sustainable development issues. The three thematic streams of this year's forum, which was attended by over 8,000 global environment leaders, were: A new climate for change; Healthy environments - healthy people; and Safeguarding the diversity of life.
Equator Initiative Activities
The main forum for local and indigenous community participation at the WCC was the Community Poble dialogue space, organized by UNDP. Equator Initiative partners came together with local and indigenous groups to discuss grassroots initiatives in biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction and a range of other key issues. The Community Poble consortium - together representing 19 countries - met, worked, and organized to share best practice and participate in the wider WCC. Daily reports and photos are available from all Community Poble sessions.
After a two-day orientation introducing community representatives to the Equator Initiative, the dialogue space concept, the WCC, and, ultimately, to one another, the week started with a bang with the Equator Prize 2008 Award Ceremony. The Equator Prize is awarded biennially to recognize and celebrate outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Held at Palo Alto - an industrial warehouse that has been refurbished into a fashionable reception space - the award ceremony was one of the premier events of the WCC. Among many other prominent dignitaries in attendance (including Prince Albert of Monaco, who joined for the opening reception), Ted Turner, Chairman of the United Nations Foundation (UNF) gave the keynote address. Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Russ Mittermeier, President of Conservation International; Poul Engberg-Pedersen, Director-General of NORAD; Brett Jenks, CEO of RARE; Jeff McNeely, Chief Scientist at IUCN; Sara Scherr, President of Ecoagriculture Partners; Kathy Calvin Bushkin Executive Vice President and COO of the United Nations Foundation; Konrad Ublerhoer, Government of Germany, and other leaders of Equator Initiative partner agencies participated in the evening program. Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP provided the opening and closing remarks. The evening featured all 25 winners of the Equator Prize 2008 and announcement of the five communities receiving "special recognition". Members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Equator Prize 2008 Jury were duly recognized for their valuable contributions. The ceremony closed with a statement on behalf of the Equator Prize 2008 winners by representatives from all three regions of prize eligibility - Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Community Poble programme got underway the following day. Consistent with past dialogue spaces, the Poble was designed as a platform for local voices to provide input into international policy discussions. The Poble, however, had the notable distinction from other Equator Initiative dialogue spaces of being the first to be physically located in the heart of a conference center.
Over the four-day event, community representatives - including all 25 winners of the Equator Prize 2008 - worked cooperatively with Equator Initiative partners to offer workshops, sessions and presentations covering:
• The Community Knowledge Service (CKS)
• Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs)
• Marine Biodiversity Conservation
• Community-Based Approaches to Climate Change
• Biodiversity and Business: Local and Indigenous Entrepreneurship
• Local and Indigenous Peoples and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)
• Conservation of Agricultural Biodiversity
The flagship session of the Community Poble was the Local-Global Leaders Dialogue; community representatives came together with international conservation leaders for a round-table discussion. Addressing the theme of biodiversity and business, the panel included Veerle Vandeweerd as well as leaders from The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the United Nations Foundation, RARE Conservation, Ecoagriculture Partners, the Government of Norway, Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO), Chalalan Eco-lodge, and the Conservation Society of Pohnpei. International panelists expressed a willingness and desire to learn, stressed the importance of communities in their respective work, and acknowledged the need to develop a range of local knowledge sharing tools.
Perhaps one of the most interesting outcomes from the Community Poble was the democratic election by community representatives in attendance of a council that will advance collaborative work between Equator Prize 2008 winners in the future. Local and indigenous representatives self-organized to elect the council, ensuring both regional and linguistic representation. A complement to the Community Knowledge Service (CKS), the council plans to create a list-serve as a starting point for collaboration. While no conclusions were reached at the Poble, the group discussed the possibility of pooling a percentage of each community's Equator Prize monetary award into a shared trust, to grow their collective financial resources for future projects.
The efforts of the indigenous and local groups present at the Community Poble were well documented in the media, including:
• An official press conference moderated by Veerle Vandeweerd (UNDP), attended by Erika Harms (UNF), and featuring representatives of the special recognition communities;
• A number of articles on prize-winning communities in national and international press.
• An IUCN media video short featuring interviews with the five communities receiving special recognition, Veerle Vandeweerd (UNDP) and Erika Harms (UNF);
• Coverage of the launch of the World Resources Institute's (WRI), The World Resources Report 2008: Roots of Resilience - Growing the Wealth of the Poor, in which former Equator Prize winners are featured;
• Victor Quinches Saldarriaga, President of the Asociación de Pobladores por el Progreso y Desarrollo de Campo Amor - Zarumilla" (ASPOPRODECAZ), was interviewed as an Equator Prize 2008 winner on the World Bank Peru website;
• A press release on the Equator Prize 2008 Award Ceremony and the special recognition communities;
• A media advisory announcing the 25 winners of the Equator Prize 2008; and
The contributions of the UNDP Equator Initiative, and of the communities gathered in the Community Poble, were well received at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. A transcript from the WCC's concluding plenary session reads: "The Equator Initiative...led by UNDP, was especially eloquent in calling for more opportunities for the voices of local communities to be heard, and listened to. The UNDP [Community] Poble provided a venue where these issues could be discussed in more detail, and generated new sources of inspiration from communities that have succeeded in adapting to changing conditions for many generations."
Other UNDP Activities
In addition to managing the WCC's local community component, the UNDP and the Equator Initiative also participated in the launch of four important publications:
• The World Resources Institute's (WRI) The World Resources Report 2008: Roots of Resilience - Growing the Wealth of the Poor;
• The International Institute for Environment and Development's (IIED) The Governance of Nature and the Nature of Governance;
• The Poverty-Environment Partnership's (PEP) Making REDD Work for the Poor; and
• The World Resources Institute's (WRI) Ecosystem Services: A Guide for Decision Makers.
UNDP colleagues also organized side events and made presentations throughout the Congress. Among their contributions were:
• The launch of the World Resources Report 2008, where Veerle Vandeweerd (UNDP) participated on a panel with Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President, World Resources Institute; Warren Evans, Environment Director, World Bank; Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR and Benson Venegas, Executive Director, Asociación ANAI Talamanca, Costa Rica and Equator Prize 2002 winner to launch the joint UNDP, UNEP, WB, WRI publication. Featuring Equator Prize winning communities, the report argues that properly fostered nature-based enterprises can improve rural livelihoods and, in the process, create resilience to economic, social, and environmental threats.
• Alliance Workshop: Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) where Veerle Vandeweerd (UNDP) participated on a panel with Stephen Granger, Chairperson, LAB Steering Committee; Maria Mbengashe, Chief Policy Advisor, Department of Environment Affairs, South Africa; Margarita Pares, City of Barcelona; and Sebastian Winkler, Head, Countdown 2010 on how to improve urban biodiversity management through the sharing of lessons between participating local governments, and to improve the support for urban biodiversity management by raising its profile in the urban context.
• Delivering Multiple Benefits from Forest Carbon Markets, where Charles McNeill presented and moderated a panel that included His Excellency Barnabas Suebu, Governor of Papua Province, Republic of Indonesia; Joshua Bishop, Chief Economist, IUCN; Glenn Prickett, Senior Vice President, CI and others who explored the key elements necessary to ensure forest carbon activities, including REDD and forest restoration are designed to optimize biodiversity and human livelihood benefits.
• Conservation in the Real World: Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes, a World Bank led event, where Nik Sekhran made a presentation on UNDP supported work to reconcile development with biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources in the Okavango River Delta. Also presented was a successful joint WB- UNDP supported initiative in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa, aimed at re-gearing production practices in agriculture and other key sectors to ensure that they accommodate biodiversity management needs. This is being achieved through changes in government policy, planning and regulation; sectoral policies and practices; market incentives, and private and community activities.
• The GEF and Indigenous Peoples Forum, where Delfin Ganapin, Global Manager, Small Grants Programme (SGP) presented the programme's work with indigenous peoples in various participating countries.
• Too Small to Be True? Grants that Make a Difference, where Delfin Ganapin, Global Manager and Terence Hay-Edie, Programme Coordinator of GEF-SGP organized an event with Fonds Français pour l'Environnement Mondial, the National Committee of the Netherlands for IUCN, and four small grants recipients representatives from NGOs, which shared multiple small grants funds experiences, challenges and lessons learned. The event focused on the big impact small projects can have on global environmental issues and civil society capacity building and in what way a small grant can make a difference. Ms. Achala Adhikari from the Community Development Center (Sri Lanka), both an SGP grantee and Equator Initiative 2008 finalist, presented the achievements of her community-based organization in protecting traditional varieties of yams and tubers.
• PACT 2020: Protected Areas and Climate Turn Around Strategy: Organized by IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and TNC, this event debated the role Protected Areas can play in engineering adaptation to climate change and mitigating emissions from forest and wetland degradation. Nik Sekhran and Adriana Dinu Wright sat on a Panel called to discuss the functional relationship of protected area systems and climate change adaptation/mitigation strategies, the governance mechanisms needed to optimize climate dividends (adaptation/mitigation) from PA management, the effectiveness of monitoring, and cost /benefit equations.
• Alliance Workshop: Protected Areas for Life: Safeguarding Human Wellbeing and the Financial Sustainability of National Systems of Protected Areas, where Andrew Bovarnick, Lead Natural Resource Economist, UNDP participated in a panel discussion on financial sustainability and social and fiscal benefits generated by protected areas, and how to build solid financial and economic arguments to decision makers.
• Conservation and Livelihoods in Production Landscapes: Coffee and cocoa consumers push sustainability in tropical agriculture, where Andrew Bovarnick, Lead Natural Resource Economist, UNDP participated in a panel that explored how coffee and cocoa farmers can be engaged as front-line conservationists. The panel included: Juan Marco Alvarez, Executive Director, SalvaNatura; Roberto Gómez, Assistant Manager for Rural Development, Fundación Natura Colombia, Nespresso; and Tensie Whelan, Executive Director, Rainforest Alliance.
• Meeting of the Indigenous and Community Conservation Areas Consortium + donors and partners: Terence Hay Edie and Nik Sekhran participated in this closed event, called to discuss measures to support community management of indigenous and community conservation areas, which may cover as much as 10% of the Earth's surface, but are not formally recognised as Protected Areas.
• Mangroves for the Future (MFF): Investing in Coastal Ecosystems, where Sergio Feld, with UNDP's regional service centre in Bangkok, participated on a panel displaying the work of this partnership-led initiative to promote investment in coastal ecosystems for a healthier, more prosperous and secure future for Indian Ocean coastal communities.
• Community Voices: Have we been included sufficiently in the intellectual property and plant varieties protection debate? where Savita Mullapudi Narasimhan, Intellectual Property, Trade & Biodiversity, Inclusive Globalisation Cluster, Poverty Group, BDP facilitated an interactive session on the issue of intellectual property rights, traditional knowledge and plant varieties protection.
• Restoring Nature's Capital: Integrating Ecosystem Service into Economic Development Decisions, where Charles McNeill facilitated a panel that addressed the opportunities and obstacles of the on-the-ground realities of mainstreaming ecosystem services in decision making. Panelists included: Janet Ranganathan, Vice President,WRI; Carlos Rodriquez, Conservation International; Peter Carter, European Investment Bank; Gerben de Jong, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands; Jim Salzman, Duke University.
• GEF Partnership on Climate Change Adaptation and LULUCF: Nik Sekhran and Adriana Dinu Wright represented UNDP in a GEF round table discussion discussing the integration of climate adaptation and mitigation strategies with natural resource management.
• Donor Meeting on Western Africa Program on Biodiversity: Abdoulaye Ndiaye represented UNDP at a donor meeting to discuss strategies for supporting biodiversity conservation in West Africa.
• Programme of Work On Protected Areas (POWPA): Adriana Dinu Wright participated in the POWPA consortium meeting to discuss the status of the POWPA and develop strategies to strengthen the Programme of Work in support of the 2010 Biodiversity Targets.