Latin America and the Caribbean are amongst the most bio-diverse regions of the world with 6 of the 17 mega diverse countries that harbor 70% of global biodiversity. A total of 861 million hectares of natural forest cover 42% of the region landmass. However, the fast rate of development in the region has come at a price to the environment, in view of the fact that the economies of these countries are still strongly dependent on natural resources.
Development has generally been accompanied by an increasing reduction in the quantity and quality of services that ecosystems provide and that underpin our existence. In other words, the vulnerability of the poor is increased by the reduced ability of the ecosystems to protect and cushion us against natural disasters and deliver us the means to produce our daily food.
Moreover, the unresolved issues of territorial governance, which plagues decision making on land-use and acts a considerable brake in making decisions to use land wisely, are still set on the discussion table.
To face the above-mentioned challenges, through country-specific interventions, from national to local scales, UNDP will support Governments to integrate biodiversity into development planning and economic sectors, expand and strengthen the management of protected area systems, including indigenous and community conservation areas, and reduce the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and societies), by addressing existing barriers through two key approaches:
- Developing capacity at the individual, institutional and systemic levels to remove barriers to effective governance for biodiversity management.
- Assisting countries to identify, combine and sequence environmental finance to address the biodiversity and ecosystem financing gap, mobilize new pro poor markets for ecosystem goods and services and generate sustainable livelihoods.
What has been done?
Over the last twenty years, the team of Environment and Natural Resources has been working on 165 projects which cover biodiversity, land degradation and ecosystem management. These have increased the sustainable use of various species and have promoted conservations through commercializing biodiversity and agro-biodiversity products, thereby enabling communities to earn a living and manage resources more sustainably. In total, these projects have had the following impacts:
- 48 new Protected Areas are being established covering 2.3 million hectares
- 155 existing Protected Areas are being strengthened covering 15.3 hectares
- 11 projects working with Indigenous Communities and over 100 different communities
- 16 projects taking various measures associated with Climate Change adaptation
- 22 Ecoregions impacted from projects out of global 200 Ecoregions
- 6 projects working to address invasive alien species.
As a response to the emerging challenges, the new UNDP EBD (Ecosystem and Biodiversity) Strategy for the period 2012-2020 is design to enable UNDP to better support programme countries to shape and drive biodiversity management for sustainable development at the country level – based on country commitments, needs and priorities.
The overall strategic objective of the UNDP EBD strategy is:
Natural heritage, including goods and services provided by ecosystems and biodiversity are maintained and enhanced through measures that increase carbon storage, reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and increase resilience.
Furthermore, the challenges – and solutions – to biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are closely linked with efforts to achieve climate stability and sustainable development. Therefore, the inclusion of multilateral and cross-sectoral cooperation to address these challenges into our goals is essential for the success of the new strategy. The key challenges include:
- Integration of Sustainable development into economic policy. The link between natural resources, poverty and the economy, constitutes a key vehicle for achieving sustainable development objectives, through integration of biodiversity-friendly objectives into production sectors – including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and tourism.
- Rapid improvement of protected areas (Pas) management worldwide, including indigenous and community conservation areas, as it is the most immediate and effective response to the imminent biodiversity crisis.
- Accelerating adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. The effects of climate change on natural ecosystems will affect all societies adversely, but it will affect the poor disproportionately, whose living standards rely mainly on services the environment can provide them. Successful efforts for fighting climate change require a dramatic increase in support to developing countries for capacity development, technology transfer and investment to maintain the capacity of ecosystems to supply vital ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration.
Recognizing biodiversity as a central driver for sustainable development, policy and decision makers must develop ‘triple-win’ development policies and programmes that regenerate the global commons by integrating biodiversity management and environmental sustainability with social development and economic growth.