On 11 June 2003, in Santa Cruz (Bolivia), the Minister of Sustainable Development, Ms. Moyra Paz Estensoro, announced the launch of the National Sustainable Biotrade Programme (PNBS), aimed at helping to reduce poverty and foster sustainable development.
The Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Mr. David Syz, confirmed that his country would contribute 1 million dollars to the programme, and the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Bolivia, Mr. Wicher Willdeboer, promised 2.5 million dollars. This was the climax of an intensive process involving the formulation of the PNBS, initiated two years ago by the Department of Biodiversity in the office of Bolivia´s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, together with the UNCTAD Biotrade Initiative.
Bolivia is a country which possesses great natural wealth. It is one of a group of countries known as "megadiverse", which are considered to constitute a world power in terms of their biological riches, since they contain some 70 per cent of the world´s biodiversity. Bolivia also has some of the highest poverty indices in the world. The PNBS forms part of the Bolivian National Poverty Alleviation Strategy and, through the sustainable use of biodiversity, seeks to promote income generation and the fair distribution of the benefits which are generated.
Bolivia´s National Biotrade Programme, to be applied for five years, has the following overall objective:
- to stimulate production of and trade in biodiversity goods and services, following criteria of ecological, social and economic sustainability;
- by strengthening value chains and local economies related to them, and creating links with the domestic and international market.
It contains the following five components: development of standards for promoting the sustainable management of biodiversity, development of skills for sustainable production; facilitating access to markets, certification and financing; developing value chains; and fostering access to information, and training in biotrade for the various national stakeholders.
The national programme is sponsored by UNCTAD´s BIOTRADE Initiative, whose aim is to enhance the ability of developing countries to produce value-added products and services derived from biodiversity, for both domestic and international markets.
The activities under the Bolivia Programme will be complemented by those under other major projects promoted by UNCTAD´s BIOTRADE Initiative, such as the UNCTAD/ITC Biotrade Facilitation Programme, which provides practical support to companies in gaining access to export markets for biodiversity-related products and services. Other important complementary programmes include the Andean Biotrade Programme implemented by the Andean Community (CAN), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and UNCTAD; and the Andean investment forum promoted by the World Resources Institute (WRI), CAF and UNCTAD with the aim of facilitating access to credits and risk capital.
Thanks to this joint effort, the activities of the Biotrade Programme will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as those of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and of the Millennium Goals.