Geneva, Switzerland, (09 December 2013)
Experts meeting here will discuss how the sale and trade of goods sustainably harvested from forests, if expanded, may preserve stands of timber as carbon “sinks” and thus mitigate climate change.
They will debate this topic and review efforts to conserve biodiversity during the 11-13 December Second BioTrade Congress.
UNCTAD’s BioTrade Initiative is a sixteen-year-old programme that helps rural communities and businesses in developing countries fight the loss of biodiversity and enhance livelihoods. The Initiative, which now operates in 21 nations, empowers communities in harvesting, processing, and marketing products based on sustainably managed ecosystems. BioTrade products and services, which include pulp from baobab trees, cosmetics made from the oil of marula fruit in Namibia and Botswana, and ecotourism in the Andean region, boost rural incomes and offer an incentive to conserve local plant and animal species.
The Second BioTrade Congress has the theme “Integrating REDD+ into BioTrade Strategies.” REDD refers to a targeted measure adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.” The measure has since been expanded to include “conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks,” and is referred to as REDD+.
Background material for the BioTrade conference states that “Climate change has taken a toll on biodiversity. It is a development challenge that requires to be addressed through an integrated and strategic approach, including the integration of biodiversity-based strategies in climate change mitigation efforts.” REDD+ measures “offer financial incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to foster sustainable development. With the introduction of these measures and funding, there exists an opportunity for developing countries to integrate BioTrade activities into climate-friendly policies, thereby strengthening local economic activities in forest areas.”
BioTrade and carbon projects complement each other. Some BioTrade activities, for example bird watching and ecotourism, occur in forest areas and rely on healthy and biodiverse ecosystems. Forest carbon-preservation projects, on the other hand, help ensure the protection of biodiversity by maintaining the natural habitats of species of fauna and flora. Conserving forests is vital for maintaining or restoring threatened species and populations.
Carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation can create two significant revenue streams for local communities as a result of the commercialization of carbon credits – received for forest conservation -- and the sale of BioTrade products and services. By operating within the carbon market and within the BioTrade sector market, projects can be protected from periods of low market activity in one sector of the other. Two revenue streams strengthen a project’s economic viability.
The Congress will open with an address by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi. Keynote speakers will include John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); Hans-Peter Egler, Head of the Division for Trade Promotion of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO); and Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Topics to be discussed during the three-day Congress include “Climate change and BioTrade: opportunities and challenges;” “Benefit sharing in biodiversity and ecosystem services,” “Market creation and development;” and “South-South and cross-industry cooperation; sharing of experiences and best practices.”
The programme for the meeting is available here:
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