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UNESCO’s Executive Board Calls for Developing a Biodiversity Initiative

19 May 2011: The Executive Board of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has confirmed its call for UNESCO to develop a coherent Biodiversity Initiative encompassing all areas of competence and work of UNESCO – natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication. The Initiative will focus on the underlying drivers of biodiversity erosion and loss, and will encompass actions aimed at providing assistance to UNESCO member States underpinning the implementation of the UN system-wide Strategic Plan for Biodiversity.

The 186th session of the Executive Board of UNESCO took place from 3-19 May 2011, in Paris, France. Envisaged elements of the Initiative include: protecting biodiversity through the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), in which UNESCO participates; advocating for, and monitoring of, the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which will emphasize education and public awareness actions for biodiversity, and mainstreaming biodiversity into educational policies; collaborating with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN-REDD Programme on biodiversity-related issues; contributing to mobilizing international science communities to address pressing challenges that cannot be addressed by any one country alone, such as those related to oceans, freshwater systems, biodiversity loss and climate change; identifying marine biodiversity hotspots and large-scale ecological patterns; promoting biosphere reserves as biodiversity laboratories on the ground and for assisting in making operational the notion of green societies; working with indigenous communities and small island developing States (SIDS) that will emphasize the important role of women, and promoting the importance of the role of women and gender-balanced approaches in general, in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; strengthening information to parties of the CBD and other governments on observing needs to protect marine biodiversity; furthering ecological and Earth sciences to develop theoretical and practical knowledge to support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem services for the enhancement of human well-being; analyzing global environmental change including biodiversity loss as a major driver of social transformation; building capacities of journalism institutions to improve the basic science literacy of journalists, including in biodiversity-related issues; and furthering work on interlinkages between biological and cultural diversity, as well as ecosystems and social systems, to re-shape global, regional and local policy and practice on biodiversity governance.

The UNESCO Biodiversity Initiative will be formally launched at the 36th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, scheduled to take place from 25 October-11 November 2011. [IISD RS Sources] [Meeting Website]