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Initiative on Integrated Assessment of Trade-Related
The importance of understanding the complex relationships that link agriculture, biological diversity and trade liberalization is becoming increasingly clear. Article 14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) calls on States to “introduce appropriate arrangements to ensure that the environmental consequences of its programmes and policies that are likely to have significant adverse impacts on biological diversity are duly taken into account.”
In support of this goal, the CBD Conference of Parties (COP) called for the impact of trade liberalization on agricultural biodiversity to be studied in cooperation with international organizations, including UNEP (Decision VI/5). In response to this mandate, UNEP has been undertaking a five-year initiative (2005-2010) on Integrated Assessment of Trade-Related Policies and Biological Diversity in the Agriculture Sector (UNEP Trade and Biodiversity Initiative). Funding for this initiative was provided by the European Union and by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
The initiative enhanced the capacity in developing countries to develop and implement policy recommendations that safeguard biological diversity while maximizing sustainable development gains from trade liberalization in the agriculture sector. The outcomes helped clarify the relationships between biodiversity and trade-related policies and also contributed to a more comprehensive understanding of biodiversity assessment and valuation.
As part of the activities of this initiative UNEP, in collaboration with the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the CBD Secretariat, and a group of international experts on biodiversity, assessment and valuation, has developed a Policy Assessment Manual focused on Agriculture, Trade and Biodiversity. The Manual consists of two Volumes: Volume I presents a practical step-by-step approach to undertaking integrated assessment of trade policy in the agricultural sector, with a focus on biodiversity. Volume II is an accompanying reference document that explains in detail the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the complex linkages that exist between trade in the agricultural sector and biodiversity. Volume II also contains additional information on both procedures and substance to support efforts in undertaking an integrated assessment focused on biodiversity, including indicators and valuation techniques.
Furthermore, six Asian Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) countries were selected to receive technical and financial support to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of trade liberalization in the agricultural sector with particular focus on biodiversity. National institutions in Jamaica, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Uganda and Papua New Guinea applied and customized the manual to fit local conditions and needs. Based on the outcomes from these country-based assessments, they developed policy recommendations that safeguard biological diversity while maximizing sustainable development gains from trade liberalization in the agriculture sector. Building on the experiences gained at national level the manual was further developed and revised.
The initiative was launched in Geneva on 15 July 2005 at the First Meeting of the International Steering Committee (ISC). On 30-31 May 2006, UNEP convened a Workshop for ACP Countries and the Second International Steering Committee Meeting in Geneva to discuss the first draft of the manual and the initiatives’ next steps. A select group of ACP countries attended the meeting to learn more about the initiative and discuss their potential interest in developing a country project. This was followed by a Capacity Building Workshop from 25-27 October 2006 aiming to prepare the country project teams for the implementation of the project at national level, covering various aspects of integrated assessment, the inter-linkages between trade, agriculture and biodiversity and the main challenges of project implementation and stakeholder participation.
In 2007 and 2008, UNEP organized the First and Second International Review Meeting to provide an opportunity for the country teams to exchange experiences and receive feedback from the group of advisors on the focus, methodology and preliminary findings of the studies. Back to back with the first review meeting, the International Steering Committee met for its third ISC meeting on 27 November 2009. At the Third International Review Meeting held from 18-20 March 2009 in Geneva the country team presented the results and recommendations of the studies and discussed and further elaborated their actions plans for implementation of selected recommendations. The meeting in March 2009 also marked the starting point for the second phase of the country projects focused on development and implementation of national policy action plans.
The findings and recommendations from the 6 studies were shared and discussed with trade and environment delegates, impact assessment experts, other international organisations and NGOs at a Symposium on Trade-related Policy Assessments, Agriculture and Biodiversity in March 2010, in a session on trade assessment at the Annual Conference of the International Association of Impact Assessment in April 2010, and at the UNEP-ICTSD Trade and Biodiversity Day held in April 2010. The symposium served as the final meeting of the initiative. This was followed by three regional dissemination meetings in the Caribbean, East Africa and West Africa between October and December 2010 organized by the country teams in Jamaica, Mauritius and Cameroon with support from UNEP.
For further information on this initiative, please contact Vera Weick at email@example.com.