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Minister Says Biodiversity Is Bedrock Of Development 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

CameroonPostline.com — The Minister of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, MINEPDED, Pierre Hele, has said biological and genetic resources constitute the bedrock of development of the country.

He was speaking recently at the official ceremony that marked a two-day national workshop for the examination and validation of the revised National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) for Cameroon, held at the Yaounde Conference Centre.

The Minister stated that the event was an ideal occasion to sensitise enterprises, local councils, other institutions, associations and citizens alike on the value of biological resources to human, vegetal and animal life. Pierre Hele said because biodiversity is bedrock to the economic, social and cultural development of the country, “the safeguard of biodiversity is [therefore] imperative to all economic, political and industrial actors.”

He told the participants that Cameroon and the international community are paying particular attention to the revised NBSAP document. He outlined the participation of stakeholders in the process of decision-making, planning and definition of priority actions to reverse biodiversity loss, as one of the three main objectives of the workshop.

Others include appropriation by stakeholders of effective putting in place of activities linked to sustainable biodiversity use and the validation of key actions for strategy implementation as well as defined objectives for protection of biodiversity.

Pierre Hele recalled that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) Earth Summit of 1992 with its content bordering on three key issues, notably; conservation, sustainable management of biodiversity and access to and equitable sharing of benefits accruing from the exploitation of genetic resources.

He said Cameroon ratified the document in 1994 and, in conformity with obligations of state parties, elaborated its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan from 1999 to 2002, with support from the UN Environment Programme and the Global Environment Facility, GEF.

The Minister observed that since the adoption of the NBSAP in 2002, its implementation has been very partial for diverse reasons. He said the institutional, strategic, economic and socio-environmental context that reigned during its adoption is quite different from what obtains today, thus the need for its revision, taking into consideration new orientations and international engagements taken by Cameroon.

After the official opening of the workshop, the National Focal Point Coordinator of the Biodiversity Project in MINEPDED, Prudence Galega, who is also the Technical Adviser No 1, said the NBSAP is a planning tool which provides the framework within which one can coordinate and ensure that everybody who is intervening in a particular sector does it in a way that leads to a common vision. “It is a sector which is cross-cutting in the sense that biodiversity underpins the activities in other spheres of development.

If those sectors of development want to carry out their sectoral activities, there is need to ensure that there is a framework within which those activities are coordinated to attain objectives; like ensuring that the biodiversity on which they depend is not destroyed,” she said. She added that this is the underlined objective of the revision of this planning instrument which was developed in 1999 and validated in 2000.

Galega said that for 12 long years since the document was elaborated and adopted, the dynamics and the stakes for biodiversity have changed. “The actors who were involved in managing biodiversity themselves have either evolved in terms of their priorities or capacities. There is need, therefore, today, for us to receive the revised planning framework…” she appealed. 

On the goals of the workshop, Galega said; “Very few people are informed of the value of biodiversity to their livelihood and, as such, they are adopting practices that destroy the environment. In terms of information generated by science, research institutions in universities from which information is not accessible to the public so we have put it in a strategy to ensure that we increase information awareness on biodiversity.

“Secondly, we have to reduce the increasing loss of biodiversity. We are losing species; there are animal and plant species that are becoming extinct while some are under great threats. The unsustainable illegal exploitation of these species and also the destruction of the habitat call for great concern,” Galega averred.

The National Focal Point Coordinator also talked of the need to ensure increase in and equitable sharing of benefits emanating from exploitation of genetic resources while the forth objective is geared at building capacities in terms of human resources.

First published in The Post print edition no 01403

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