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Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Intervention on “Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration” by Youth in CBD COP 12

Dispatches from Pyeong Chang, S. Korea

Michelle Pazmino and Kabir Arora from Ecuador & India making the intervention @COP12

Michelle Pazmino and Kabir Arora from Ecuador & India making the intervention @COP12

Mirna Inés Fernández Pradel (Bolivia), Michelle Pazmiño (Ecuador), Kabir Arora (India)

The following intervention was made on agenda item number 26 of draft decision text in Working group II dealing with Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration.

Madam Chair, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share our inputs in regard to this item. We are speaking on behalf of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

With the current rate of biodiversity loss, we as youth are extremely concerned about the national commitments regarding conservation and restoration. We understand that it will not be possible to conserve earth’s biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone. Therefore, damaged ecosystems need restoration activities to be recovered. We believe that the main efforts should focus on in situ conservation of natural areas, following  the Ecosystem based approach.

Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 shows that there is a tangible bias on the geographical patterns of restoration projects, with the highest investment levels in North America and Europe, and we are aware that high costs and technology requirements will limit its application in many developing countries. In addition, the complexity of tropical and subtropical ecosystems require strong scientific basis to implement restoration projects when damaged.

Therefore, we remind parties that the Preventive, Precautionary and the Polluter Pays Rio Principles, are crucial to ensure that restoration is additional to ongoing conservation efforts, otherwise it cannot count towards the Aichi target 15. We call parties to ensure that conservation of fragile ecosystems is the highest priority, while restoration strategies should be applied only on ecosystems that have already been damaged.

Also, we strongly believe that restoration must not be used as an argument to legitimize the degradation of natural areas in other places via biodiversity offsetting, and it is extremely important to recognize that plantations as a form of restoration is not acceptable.

We believe that Initiatives such as the Indigenous People’s and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) are very successful options and should be promoted. Tenurial security for indigenous peoples and local communities must be ensured, as well as the recognition of their customary practices and their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) in conservation and restoration initiatives. In this regard, national policies should make greater efforts to achieve the full scope of Aichi target 11.

Moreover, financial and human resources should be managed by local people. Science and technology should go in hand with all biodiversity values and the people’s needs. It must be ensured that restoration and sustainable use of inhabited ecosystems are led by communities taking the central role with support from governments , while civil society efforts, including the private sector, must be recognized but not prioritized as hinted in 2 & 3 (b) of the draft decision document.

We call on Parties to take the commitment of developing coherent strategies, programmes and policies at the national and subnational levels that combine conservation of fragile ecosystems with restoration of areas that have been degraded. These strategies must address at the first stage the direct drivers of biodiversity loss such as oil prospection, roads or mining on fragile ecosystems.

Please remember that the well-being of the world population in the coming decades will largely depend on conservation and restoration of ecosystems to maintain and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services, thereby contributing to sustainable development while reducing environment related risks. Therefore, when taking any decisions we must ensure that the rights of the coming generations are fully respected.

Thank you Madam Chair.

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Youth Intervention on “Synthetic Biology” in COP 12 CBD

Dispatches from Pyeongchang, S. Korea

Michelle Pazmiño & Kabir Arora

The following intervention was made on agenda item number 24 of draft decision text in Working group II dealing with “Synthetic Biology“.

Madam Chair, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share our position in regard to this item. We are speaking on behalf of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

We are representing future generations, and as so, we strongly urge parties to consider the precautionary principle when discussing this matter as we strongly feel that the risks and negative impacts imposed by synthetic biology are still unforeseeable and are not being taken fully into consideration. Scientific knowledge on the future implications of this issue is not yet mature, therefore synthetic biology is a new and emerging issue that has to be taken into account as highly relevant and influential to socio-economic and health issues.

Apart from robust unbiased scientific knowledge, it is essential to carefully analyze the economic and cultural impacts of this emerging issue before making any decision.

We echo the words of various representatives and call upon parties to remove the brackets from the draft decision text: item number 24, paragraph 3, (a, b, c, alt.)

“[(a, b, c alt) To ensure that field testing, environmental release or commercial release of organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology are not approved until a global, international, transparent, legal regulatory framework, and ensure that all guidance and assessments for organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology to comply with all obligations under the Convention and its Protocols, including environmental, socio-economic and cultural impacts;]”

In the same item, in paragraph 3 (e)

(e) To cooperate in the development and/or strengthening of human resources and institutional capacities in synthetic biology and its potential impacts in developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States, and Parties with economies in transition including through existing global, regional, subregional and national institutions and organizations and, as appropriate, by facilitating private sector involvement. The needs of developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States, and Parties with economies in transition, for: financial resources; access to and transfer of technology and know-how; establishing or strengthening regulatory frameworks; and the management of risks related to the release of organisms, components and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques, shall be taken fully into account in this regard;]

It is hinted that parties may facilitate private sector involvement for strengthening human resources and developing institutional capacities in synthetic biology. In this sense, we would like to remind parties that the involvement with all stakeholders including business sector is necessary, but due to their political power, we fear that their interests will steer the research and capacity building activities as well as the decision-making process regarding synthetic biology legislation which may hamper the process of strengthening human resources and developing institutional capacities.

We would also believe that is extremely necessary to have a legally binding framework if not at international level at least at the regional and sub-regional level between various governments with the aim of ensuring safety standards to avoid by all means the risk associated with synthetic biology as it moves beyond national boundaries and moves beyond time, posing as a threat to all the future generations yet to come.

Thank you Madam Chair.