Much of the work of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is not headline-grabbing and involves things like gap analysis, assessments, strategic action plans and capacity-building—training governments in the use of certain databases, for instance.
One such project that falls into this category is Support to eligible countries to produce their 6th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
"Some of our work might seem dull to outsiders but it's nevertheless vital for shifting the needle on matters environmental,” says Antony Kamau, a UNEP programme officer working on the project. “It also provides vital data for national planning and is the primary resource for global assessments on the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.”
Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro-organisms and their ecosystems—it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.
The project provides technical and financial support to developing countries, small island states and countries with economies in transition to report on progress in achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and their associated National Biodiversity Targets, in accordance with Article 26 of the Convention.
In addition to facilitating financial support from the Global Environment Facility, UNEP collaborates with other partners to provide tailored technical assistance and develop tools that enhance the acquisition of quality, scientifically sound data for improved reporting.
These tools include guidelines and a resource manual on reporting, guidance materials on stakeholder engagement and gender, and specific platforms developed for the use of biodiversity indicators and spatial data, such as the UN Biodiversity Lab. This support extends also to capacity-building workshops and webinars to help countries better use these data and tools and interpret the Convention’s guidance materials for improved reporting.
“Over the past few years, and as a result of this support, the quality and timely submission of national reports has improved,” says Kamau.
What are National Reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity?
Under the Convention for Biological Diversity, each country adopts national biodiversity strategies and action plans. Countries also subscribe to global strategies and frameworks (currently the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets). The Convention requires countries to provide national reports every four years to provide an update on progress with their national plans and their contribution to global targets.
“The 6th National Reports are particularly important as they will provide a final review on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,” says Michele Poletto, a UNEP programme officer working on the project. “In addition, they will feed into the ongoing discussion on the future post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will set the stage for international action for biodiversity up to 2050.”
UNEP supports governments in delivering their commitments under all three Rio Conventions: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
Funded by the Global Environment Facility, the project, which supports 139 countries, began in late 2017 and runs till mid-2020. Partners are the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Development Programme, and UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC).