UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting takes place for the first time in Africa

Egypt is hosting the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD) which is scheduled from 17 – 29 November 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
The conference brought together all parties to the convention, nearly 200 countries and nations around the world, and also many observers from regional organizations, NGOS, industry, university and research institutions.
In his opening remarks, H.E Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of Egypt, pointed out that hat ancient Egyptians respected nature and the land as we can see in their holy texts. He further stated that Egypt government “launched its initiative for integrating biodiversity in the developmental sectors, and exerting more efforts to reach an approach to integrate the three environmental agreements about climate change, desertification, and biodiversity.”

H.E Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Cristiana Pasca Palmer, the UN assistant secretary-general and executive secretary on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, thanked Egypt for its efforts in supporting biodiversity. She stressed that “we are all here to fight for nature, and to fight for us as well, because we are part of nature.”
African Union (AU) and NEPAD have sponsored the participation of a large number of country delegates to make sure the maximum of the African countries are represented and to contribute to make Africa’s voice heard in the negotiations. Prior to the start of the CBD meeting, the African group had a 2-day meeting onsite in Sharm El Sheikh to finalize views and come up with a common position on the various biodiversity issues to be addressed during the CBD meeting. These issues include enhancing integration of the Convention and its Protocols with respect to access and benefit sharing (ABS) and Biosafety, capacity-building and technical and scientific cooperation, resource mobilization and financial mechanism, digital sequence information on genetic resources, synthetic biology, risk assessment and risk management, unintentional transboundary movements and emergency measures, Transit and contained use of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) etc.

The African group of Negotiators during their preparatory meeting in Sharm El Sheikh

Addressing the African group of Negotiators during the preparatory meeting on 12 November, Mr Hambani Masheleni, AU Senior Policy Officer, Human Resources, Science and Technology Department affirmed that “the AU Agenda 2063, enables us as a continent, to remain focused and committed to the ideals envisaged in the context of a rapidly changing world, and hold ourselves accountable to address the socio-economic challenges facing our continent, and deliver on the aspirations of African citizens and the world beyond. We are expected to collectively address the Sustainable Development Goals on global development challenges.”
Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Director of the Regional West Africa Office of NEPAD in Dakar, said that AU-NEPAD is ready “to provide the African delegates with technical support they may need during the negotiations meetings.” He further stated that “here in Sharm El Sheikh, we have technical experts to support delegates during the negotiations arising around the protocols”.
The UN convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The CBD 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 their need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live. The CBD holds a conference of parties every two years to address issues arising from the application of the convention and its protocols (the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Liability and Redress) taking into consideration evolving human practices and emerging technologies.