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New tool to help join-up policies to cut poverty and conserve biodiversity

As thousands of delegates gather in India for the 11th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) next week, a new initiative will be unveiled to help countries meet some of their obligations under the legally-binding treaty whilst also reducing poverty.

It will show how the two seemingly disparate worlds of poverty eradication and biodiversity conservation are linked, and its launch comes ahead of the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October

This three-year project – led by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) – is intended to ensure that policies to conserve nature and reduce poverty work in harmony.

It will help nations identify opportunities to build a business case for biodiversity as a key development asset through, for instance, trade in biodiversity-based products and services, improved genetic diversity for agriculture, and green jobs in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, and ecotourism.

"Biodiversity and poverty are tightly linked, but policies for each rarely are," says Dilys Roe of IIED. "The two sides of policymaking need to be brought together so that natural resources can contribute to development and poverty reduction strategies in a sustainable way."

In 2010, when they last met, all 193 parties to the CBD adopted a new 10-year strategy to achieve the aims of the convention, which are to conserve biodiversity, to ensure that it is used sustainably and to ensure that the benefits from its use are shared fairly and equitably.

As part of the new strategy, countries agreed to "address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society".

They also set a target that: "By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems."

To help achieve this, on 9 October at the CBD conference, the project team will launch a diagnostic tool that enables policymakers to assess how far their countries have integrated biodiversity and development, and identify impacts, knowledge gaps and barriers to progress.

The Biodiversity Mainstreaming Diagnostic Tool will help countries to revise their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) -- something all parties to the CBD have agreed to do by 2014. As part of the project, four African countries -- Botswana, Namibia, Seychelles and Uganda -- are already using the tool to update and strengthen their NBSAPs.

"Leadership, good information and political acumen will be essential if countries are to integrate policies for biodiversity and development," says Jessica Smith of UNEP-WCMC. "We expect the experiences of these four leading countries in Africa to inspire and influence a whole new generation of NBSAPs in other parties to the CBD around the world."

Meanwhile the international project leaders will continue to develop support systems that are relevant to all countries. This will include producing a report on the state of knowledge on efforts to include biodiversity in other areas of policymaking. At the CBD conference in India, the team will seek feedback on a proposed outline for this review, to ensure it meets the needs of users.

Over the next year IIED and UNEP-WCMC will also work together to document the evidence base on biodiversity–poverty linkages, with funding from the UK Department for International Development and the Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation initiative.

The following publications will be online at on 5 October 2012

Biodiversity Mainstreaming Diagnostic Tool

NBSAP2.0 project summary

State of Knowledge Review outline 


Details of 9 October side event at Conference of Parties to the CBD

Mainstreaming biodiversity into poverty eradication and development 13:15 - 14:45 in Room 1.03/1.04

Contacts for interviews

Dilys Roe, IIED

Jessica Smith, UNEP-WCMC


Notes to editors: 

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see:

IIED and UNEP-WCMC are collaborating on this project with the CBD Secretariat, UNEP, UNDP and the UNEP-UNDP Poverty Environment Initiative.

The project is funded through the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative, which assists countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources implement their commitments under the international biodiversity conventions. Participating countries are implementing related initiatives supported by the Global Environment Facility through UNDP and UNEP. All of the international partner organisations are also co-funding the work. The project is part funded by UK aid from the UK Government, however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government.

The 11th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity takes place in Hyderabad, India from 8 to 19 October 2012.

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