The FairWild Standard as a tool for conserving life-saving medicinal plants under threat

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An estimated 60,000 Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) species are used globally for their medicinal properties alone. Wild harvest and trade provides a critical source of income, particularly for the rural poor in developing countries. It underpins production of numerous traditional medicines, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and other products. Annual international trade in pharmaceutical plants alone averages half a million tonnes, and was valued at over $2 billion in 2012, with nearly half exported from Asia. Wild plants make a significant contribution to Asian economies. As many as one-fifth of all plant species are threatened with extinction, with MAP populations around the world declining due to over-harvest. This is of particular concern for livelihoods and businesses in developing countries, where reliance on MAPs is high, human populations and environmental pressures are increasing, and enforcement of environmental controls is low.

In response to this global problem, TRAFFIC – a key partner of the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative – along with WWF, IUCN, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and others developed the FairWild Standard. It provides guidance on sustainable and equitable sourcing of wild plant products. The Standard and guidance tools are now being used by industry to improve product-sourcing guidelines, by governments to design harvest and trade controls, by communities in their management systems, and by intergovernmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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Read more about ways on how the FairWild Standard can be used for sustainable conservation of medicinal plants under threat in a recent article by the Deutsche Welle here

Learn more about TRAFFIC’s work on promoting the use of the FairWild Standard here

“Parks, People, Planet – Inspiring Solutions”

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The IUCN World Parks Congress Sidney 2014 is taking place from 12 till 19 November and will gather around 4000 delegates from over 160 countries. The WPC is held once in a decade and provides an ideal platform for a global conversation around issues related to protected areas. This year’s congress is themed Parks, People, Planet: Inspiring Solutions and will showcase the essential role and diverse benefits of protected areas for people and communities. Hence, partners of the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative such as the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study for Sustainability (UNU-IAS) will actively engage in the event and highlight the relevance of parks for health and human well-being at large. Through sharing ideas and experiences, this years WPC aims to take stock of the achievements in implementing the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed by the international community during the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan in 2010. The congress will further highlight the role of protected areas for sustainable development and identify challenges and innovations towards reaching the Aichi Targets and

Follow the highlights of the WPC 2014 through the live stream here

Biodiversity for Sustainable Development – some outputs of COP 12

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The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened concurrently with the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (COP/MOP 1) from 6-17 October 2014, in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. During this COP, around 3,000 delegates gathered and agreed to the Pyeongchang Roadmap, containing five decisions on: (i) mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan; and the Aichi targets; (ii) biodiversity and sustainable development; (iii) review of progress in providing support in implementing the objectives of the Convention; (iv) cooperation with other conventions; and a (v) strategy for resource mobilization.

In line with this COP’s theme ‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’ participating Ministers of Environment stressed the mutually supportive nature of the Aichi Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This message was conveyed through the Gangwon Declaration. Learn more on the role of biodiversity for sustainable development through the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative’s engagement during COP12 here.

Read more about the key issues of discussion during COP 12 here.

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Raising awareness for the interlinkages between biodiversity & health at CoP 12 in Korea

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The Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative continuously raises awareness for the complex interlinkages between biodiversity, ecosystem services and health. This is based on the firm belief that biodiversity lies the foundation for human health as it provides healthy ecosystems on which we depend for our food and fresh water or aids in regulating climate floods and disease. Biodiversity provides recreational benefits and offers aesthetic and spiritual enrichment. It further contributes to local livelihoods, to both traditional and modern medicines and to economic development.

In light of this mandate, most of our partners recently attended the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which took place from 6 – 17 October 2014 in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. In addition to events and meetings, the BaCH Initiative and its partners further facilitated four side events on issues around biodiversity and health. COP12

Here are some highlights of our work during CoP-12

TACKLING COMMON DRIVERS OF DISEASE AND BIODIVERSITY LOSS: A ONE HEALTH APPROACH

by EcoHealth Alliance, DIVERSITAS, UNU-IAS, SCBD, WHO and TRAFFIC

During this side event, the BaCH Initiative partners jointly with other organisations emphasised the that human disease and biodiversity loss share common drivers, providing opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration for co-benefits for health and biodiversity. This becomes particularly clear in the context of overexploitation of wild fauna and flora which places pressure on wild populations and threatens the health-supporting ecosystem services they provide. Infectious diseases present a major direct threat to human health, with over one billion human cases globally each year. It is further increasingly recognized as a threat to other species (including but not limited to plants and terrestrial and marine animals). This has major implications for ecosystems as a whole, and can threaten food security and the provision of several ecosystem services.

Against this background, this side event highlighted the need for a “One Health” approach that considers the connections between humans, animals and environment. Partners highlighted that such an approach allows for a more integrated and proactive mechanism for tackling shared health and biodiversity concerns. The event further enabled debates around the upcoming CBD-WHO State of Knowledge Review on Biodiversity and Health and particularly engaged participants in relevant discussion under COP 12 agenda item 16 (sustainable development), sub-item 3 (biodiversity and health).  (This side event took place on Tuesday 7th October from 18:15 to 19:45)

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FRAMING BIODIVERSITY AND HEALTH IN THE CONTEXT OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

by SCBD, WHO, Bioversity International, Diversitas, Ecohealth Alliance, FIOCRUZ, Wildlife Conservation Society, Health & Ecosystems: Analysis Of Linkages (WCS-HEAL), UNU-IAS and TRAFFIC.

Jointly with the WHO, the SCBD organised a side event on the forthcoming volume of the State of Knowledge Review on Biodiversity and Human Health. The event highlighted key thematic areas of the publication including agricultural biodiversity, food and nutrition security, water quality, infectious diseases, One Health, traditional medicine knowledge and sustainable use in an effort to mobilise plenary discussion under the CBD-WHO joint work programme. Keynote presentations by the CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Diaz as well as WHO partners further emphasised the need to address these key issues in an integrated manner by acknowledging interconnections and synergising efforts. Besides, the organisers actively engaged participants in discussions with some of the core partners who have co-led work on various chapters of the publication including several BaCH Initiative partners such as UNU-IAS, TRAFFIC as well as Bioversity International and Ecohealth Alliance. (This side event took place on Wednesday 8th October from 13:15 to 14:45.)

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BIODIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY HEALTH: OPERATIONALISING LINKAGES BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT ON THE GROUND

by UNU-IAS, Bioversity International, Ecohealth Alliance, TRAFFIC, SCBD, UNEP, UNDP and International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB)

This event focused on different dimensions related to the interplay between biodiversity and community health including challenges, strengths and opportunities by sharing case studies. Through keynote speeches by several BaCH Initiative partners such as Bioversity International, UNU-IAS, TRAFFIC and the SCBD, the event highlighted the crucial role of biological resources and well-functioning ecosystems to ensuring the health of humans animals and other life forms. The side event further emphasised gaining importance in identification and use of resources that help to overcome new health conditions, in light of changing climatic conditions. Acknowledging this year’s COP theme “Biodiversty for Sustainable Development“, the key message of the event was the need for policies which are aligned better with basic challenges faced especially by vulnerable populations to achieve their development aspirations. The side event further showcased the progress made within the BaCH Initiative to foster greater interactions among relevant stakeholders and partners to synergise efforts and achieving conservation and development objectives. (This side event took place on Thursday 9th October from 13:15 to 14:45.)

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BIODIVERSITY, HEALTH, FOOD, NUTRITION AND THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: WAYS FORWARD
by Bioversity International, Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and SCBD

The dialogue session was jointly launched by Bioversity International (a BaCH Initiative partner) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The session included a key note speech by the CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Diaz further who addressed the relevance of agrobiodiversity, food security and nutrition in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Post-2015 Development Agenda. The event further showcased the work carried out under the CBD-WHO joint work programme (strategically linked to this core thematic area of Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health) and highlighted findings in the State of Knowledge Review – an upcoming flagship publication on the interconnections between biodiversity and human health. Relevant Parties involved in the GEF-funded Bioversity for Food and Nutrition project (including Brazil and Turkey), and a representative of the Government of Korea speaking on Korean traditional food cultures further added value to the discussions through sharing cross-country experiences. The organisers further engaged the participants in vivid discussions with the interdisciplinary panel highlighting the relevance of agrobiodiversity, food security and nutrition for implementing the Aichi Biodiversity Targets 14 and 13 in the context of the SDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. (This side event took place on Friday 10th October from 13:15 to 14:45.)

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Why the Nagoya Protocol matters for biodiversity and community health

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The long hello

Adopted on 29 October 2010 during the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) (short Nagoya Protocol) finally reached more than 50 ratifications on 12 October – after years of negotiations. As an supplementary agreement to the CBD the Nagoya Protocol aims to support the implementation of the third CBD objective: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The Nagoya Protocol can be seen as a key achievement for sustainable development since it provides a transparent legal framework for users and providers on accessing, trading, sharing and monitoring the use of genetic resources.

The Nagoya Protocol requires user countries to take legal, administrative and policy measures ensuring compliance with the access and benefit-sharing law of provider countries. This implies measures to ensure fair and equitable benefit sharing from the use of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources as well as genetic resources held by indigenous and local communities. This is supposed to be based on mutually agreed terms (MAT). Besides, countries commit themselves to introduce measures to ensure to obtain a prior and informed consent (PIC) or approval and involvement of respective indigenous and local communities before accessing traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources. This also includes genetic resources, where communities have the established right to grant access. Besides, when implementing the provisions on traditional knowledge, countries are called upon considering customary laws, community protocols and procedures of indigenous and local communities and to actively support the development of community protocols on ABS and traditional knowledge.

In light of this tremebiodiversityndous step, the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP) took place in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, from 13 to 17 October 2014.

Read more about the relevance of the Nagoya Protocol for the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative here

Learn more about the Nagoya Protocol and its implications for the effective implementation of the CBD here

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Making the connections: environmental degradation’s impact on exotic diseases such as Ebola

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The Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative through its multiple partners strongly advocates in international policy forums to address pressing development priorities and challenges through acknowledging and fostering the linkages between biodiversity and health. In light of the current Ebola outbreak, one of the areas of main concern addressed by the EcoHealth Alliance – a BaCH Initiative partner – is the influence of environmental degradation and climate change on Ebola-like catastrophes as well as inherent functional chains. As such during the most recent Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COP 12) from 6 – 17 October 2014 in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, the BaCH Initiative strongly emphasised the need for a “One Health”. In doing so, the BaCH Initiative highlights the need to acknowledge that human disease and biodiversity loss share common drivers, providing opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration for co-benefits for health and biodiversity.

Find out more about BaCH’s engagement in promoting a ‘One Health’ approach at the CBD-COP 12 here