The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) is an international treaty that was negotiated at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the “Earth Summit”, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 3rd-14th June. The Convention came into force on 29th December, 1993.

The UNCBD alongside the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD), all of which were negotiated at the Rio Summit, are collectively known as the ‘Rio Conventions’.

The UNCBD has three main objectives:

  1. The conservation of biological diversity
  2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
  3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 adopted by the tenth Conference of Parties (COP) to the CBD, is the overarching biodiversity framework adhered to by member nations.

During the conference, member countries adopted the strategic plan as a means to safeguard their biodiversity and the benefits it provides to people.

Members also agreed to develop their own national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and also agreed to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that result from the utilization of genetic resources.

Parts of the Plan are to:

  1. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society;
  2. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use;
  3. Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity;
  4. Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services and;
  5. Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

UNCBD in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands ratified the UNCBD in 1995, following growing concerns over the country’s biodiversity loss and issues related to the management of the country’s biodiversity.

Three years later, the Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) within The Ministry of Forestry was established under the Environment Act of 1998 to provide the administrative mechanism for addressing biodiversity loss in the country.

In 2007, the division was moved during a merger and upgrading with the Solomon Islands Meteorological Services, resulting in the formation of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology.

In 2010, a Climate Change Division was incorporated into the ministry to promote issues of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and the ministry was renamed to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM). The MECDM is the national focal point for the UN-REDD Programme, the Convention for Biological Diversity (UNCBD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Ministry is also primarily responsible for protecting the environment, through the formulation of policies and enforcement of existing environmental legislation, with an extended role towards disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Solomon Islands.

In the same year, the MECDM endorsed the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP) as the principal instrument for implementing the CBD convention at the national level. The NBSAP provides a strategic framework for biodiversity management and protection.

The NBSAP outlines the framework that will ensure long term sustainability of biodiversity in Solomon Islands and whilst it recognises the responsibilities of the government, the document also emphasises the responsibilities of NGOs, provincial authorities, communities and resource owners in promoting and integrating environmental goals across sectors as a way of achieving the overall goals of the Plan.

The document identifies twelve themes for addressing sectoral concerns pertaining to sustainable use and management of biodiversity in Solomon Islands; and supports the government in integrating biodiversity considerations into those sectors and activities that can have an impact on biodiversity.

In line with the International Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the following areas have been identified by the NBSAP as in need of intervention over the next 7 years:

  • Environmental education and public awareness
  • Governance and Compliances
  • Sustainable finance
  • Research, Traditional Knowledge, science, Information System and Technology
  • Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
  • Agro-biodiversity
  • Forest, Mountain and plant genetic Biodiversity
  • Development and Pollution control
  • Invasive Alien Species
  • Climate Change, Disaster Risks Management and Natural Infrastructure
  • Protected Area Systems
  • Species Conservation
  • Inland Water Biodiversity
  • Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)
  • Implementation

The implementation mechanism of the updated NBSAP comprises of an administrative structure, a resource mobilization plan 2014-2018, an environmental education and public awareness plan, and a fifth and sixth report.

Relevance of UNCBD to REDD+

Although efforts to find ways of harmonizing REDD+ activities with efforts to preserve and enhance biodiversity in forests are ongoing, the Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) has acknowledged that REDD+ offers an unprescedented potential to simultaneously address the biodiversity and climate change crisis. Similarly the CBD is also aware of how a poorly designed REDD+ process can damage biodiversity and threaten provision of ecosystem services (SCBD 2011).

Acknowleding such opportunities and risks, further design considerations for the international REDD+ mechanism were safeguarded in the Cancun Agreements (UNFCCC Decision 1/CP.16).

Concurrent to the agreement on the safeguards, was the adoption of a new Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, to ‘operationalize’ the CBD from 2011 to 2020, in addition to 20 headline targets to be met by 2020. Five of these ‘Aichi Biodiversity Targets’ are directly relevant to REDD+.

Aichi Biodiversity Targets relevant to REDD+

5 - rate of loss…forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero…degradation and fragmentation significantly reduced

7 - areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity

11 - at least 17 per cent of terrestrial…areas…, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through… systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures

14 - ecosystems that provide essential services…are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities…

15 - ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems...