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Biodiversity in Small Island Developing States is highlighted at CPA and UNESCO webinars

Global leaders and experts from across the world have highlighted the role of legislators and decision-makers in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Agenda. Two online webinars were convened by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Small Branches network and UNESCO’s Small Islands and Indigenous Knowledge Section.

The webinars aimed to build the knowledge of Commonwealth Parliamentarians and policy makers in small jurisdictions and to highlight the multilateral agreements and global instruments within UNESCO’s mandate of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, communication and information.

The first of the webinars focused on the CPA Pacific Region and was introduced by Hon. Niki Rattle, Chairperson of the CPA Small Branches network and Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands who said: “In recognising the pioneering work undertaken by UNESCO in relation to Small Island Developing States and bringing the challenges they face to the top table internationally, I believe there are mutual interests, common objectives and significant scope for partnership between the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s Small Branches network and UNESCO. The CPA Small Branches network aims to help our Members to identify their achievements, strategically asses the challenges they encounter, build alliances and take action across the Commonwealth and beyond.”

This message was reiterated by CPA Secretary-General Elect, Mr Stephen Twigg who spoke at the second webinar focused on the Caribbean and Indian Oceans and highlighted the aspirations of the CPA Small Branches network to support Members in promoting biodiversity and in the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The CPA Small Branches network operates in 43 Commonwealth jurisdictions with 16 of them in the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region and 10 in the CPA Pacific Region.

Dr Peggy Oti-Boateng, Director of the UNESCO Division for Science Policy and Capacity Building also spoke at the webinars about UNESCO’s work in biodiversity and its work with SIDS. Ana María Hernández Salgar, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) explained how IPBES provides relevant information to policy and decision makers and how they support Parliamentarians with policy information. UNESCO’s Small Island and Indigenous Knowledge Chief, Nigel Crawhall highlighted the importance of Parliamentarians in promoting legislation for biodiversity.

Participants and discussion leaders at the webinars went on to discuss strengthening dialogue between science and policy on biodiversity in the Pacific and in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean as well as the capacity of Parliamentarians to associate biodiversity with development agendas. 

Key highlights from the Pacific Region webinar:
• New Zealand MP and Member of the Select Committee on Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Hon. Maureen Pugh, MP gave a perspective from New Zealand on biodiversity and conservation protections incorporated through legislation that form part of the national development agenda.
• The topic of island biodiversity and Pacific preparedness for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework was highlighted by expert Kate Brown from the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA).
• Professor Randolph R. Thaman from the University of the South Pacific spoke about the huge challenges facing the Pacific Region in tackling biodiversity including alien species, pollution and waste management.

Key highlights from the Caribbean/Indian Ocean webinar:
• The first speaker, environmental expert and IPBES Caribbean representative, Floyd Homer (Trinidad & Tobago) focused on the Caribbean Region and the national obligations for governments under the Convention on Cultural Biodiversity.
• Ms Amrikha Singh, Programme Manager for Sustainable Development at the CARICOM Secretariat gave a perspective from the Caribbean Region on the many issues affecting biodiversity and the frameworks for intervention in the region.
• Aria St Louis, CBD Focal Point for Grenada spoke about Caribbean preparedness for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity framework and the major issues facing the region.
• Gina Bonne from the Indian Ocean Commission gave the perspective of biodiversity from the Small Island Developing States in the region and the challenges of protecting biodiversity in a region that is affected by economic and environmental factors.
• Ilham Atho Mohamed, Assistant Director at the Ministry of Environment of the Maldives gave the biodiversity perspective from Maldives and the relevance of IPBES for policymakers, stakeholders and negotiations in the Indian Ocean Region.

These webinars are aimed at Parliamentarians, parliamentary staff and those working to promote legislative responses and international decision making with specific focus on Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

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