16 Jun 2013

Biodiversity and ecosystem services play a fundamental role in human well-being

By Melanie Heath

Over 300 biodiversity expects and economists from 120 countries representing government, non-governmental organisations and academia gathered in Norway from 27th to the 31st May for the Trondheim Biodiversity Conference. Seventh in the series of esteemed conferences, spanning 20 years, the Trondheim Conferences on Biodiversity provide a highly valuable fora for dialogue amongst key stakeholders on issues related to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Ecology and economy for a sustainable society was the main focus of this Conference, hosted by the Norwegian Government in cooperation with UNEP, CBD, FAO, UNDP and the World Bank.  Presenters and participants explored how biodiversity considerations, so crucial in underpinning sustainable economic development and poverty eradication, can be integrated and mainstreamed across government and society. This is in line with the first goal of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, adopted by the CBD Conference of Parties in 2010. The Conference explored how alignments and mixes of policies, incentives and business strategies can help shape development pathways towards a sustainable society. Examples were shared on removing incentives and subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how they need to be reformed.

Methods for recognising the value of natural capital that can be more widely adopted and integrated in national (beyond GDP) and company accounting were also discussed, particularly the need to recognise the costs of converting natural assets and revenues gained when use is made of biodiversity and the services that ecosystem provide to people. The meeting closed on the day of the launch of the awaited report from the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. At the Rio+20 summit in June 2012, world leaders set in motion the development of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which should integrate the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. A clear message from Trondheim, as outlined in the Co-Chairs report of the meeting, entitled Moment for Opportunity, is the vital need for the SDGs to fully recognise the role of biodiversity in ensuring a viable future for humanity.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, adopted by 193 of the World’s Governments, clearly contains a framework, indicators and metrics that can play an important role in informing and measuring progress against these Goals. Peter Schei, Chair of BirdLife International Council and Founder of the Trondheim Biodiversity Conferences added “The Trondheim Conference has emphasised the need to truly integrate the needs and roles of biodiversity and ecosystems across policies at all levels. This presents a clear opportunity for the BirdLife Partnership to further build its work with governments, business and communities to advocate the concerted actions needed to achieve sustainable development.”   To find out more on how BirdLife’s information can be used to help set, track and meet the targets set out in the Strategic Plan see our CBD pages