The International Day for Biological Diversity 2022 - Message by Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan
The International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated to mark the importance of biodiversity on earth.
The theme for the year 2022 is “Building a shared future for all life”. The slogan was chosen to continue building momentum and support for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15).
Photo: IUCN Pakistan
The mission of IUCN is to influence, encourage and assist societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. IUCN brings to this challenge the wealth of its over 70 years’ experience in biodiversity conservation.
For over 30 years now, IUCN has been a pioneer in nature conservation. It has been the lead institution in the conservation and protection of biodiversity in Pakistan. IUCN’s policies, strategies and plans related to the conservation and management of biodiversity and protected areas are still considered by the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan as critical reference points in the field of Natural Resource Management. It has been facilitating the federal and provincial governments in meeting the national as well as international commitments like the Achi biodiversity targets, SDGs, Rio Markers, Paris Accord, Clean and Green Pakistan, Recharge Pakistan and most recently the Green Stimulus package of the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan and more.
IUCN Pakistan had also been instrumental in getting notified a number of protected areas across Pakistan including the Astola Island declared as Pakistan’s first Marine Protected Area. IUCN Pakistan facilitated the process of bringing together all the stakeholders that included: the federal Ministry of Climate Change; Government of Balochistan; Pakistan Navy; National Institute of Oceanography; WWF-Pakistan; Indus Earth Trust; and Sindh Forest and Wildlife Department.
In the year 2000, IUCN Pakistan has the privilege of being the main partner of the then Ministry of Environment for developing the first Biodiversity Action Plan for Pakistan which was an important milestone and a major step towards conservation of Biodiversity in the country. In the recent past, IUCN Pakistan has assisted Government of Pakistan and the provincial governments including governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir in formulating the National and Provincial Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. IUCN Pakistan has also initiated work on nature-based tourism in two valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan and developed and published trophy hunting guidelines under the Biodiversity Safeguarding and Assessing the Impacts of Infrastructure Development project. It is also promoting nature-based tourism under the Karot Hydropower project in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
In collaboration with the Forest and Wildlife Department, Government of Balochistan, IUCN Pakistan also initiated the process of designating the Juniper Forest Ecosystem as UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Reserves. The designating process was led by IUCN Pakistan under its UNDP funded project titled: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into the Juniper Forest Ecosystem Production with UNESCO Pakistan’s financial support under One UN Programme in consultation with all the stakeholders, local communities and other relevant government departments.
In the past, some of the successfully implemented programmes and projects of Pakistan for conserving the Biodiversity in Pakistan include: Conservation of green turtles along Pakistan’s coasts; conserving vanishing vultures in Tharparkar; conservation of fresh water turtles and the Mountain Areas renowned trophy hunting programme which helped in increasing the dwindling population of Markhor in Pakistan while benefiting the local community through conservation incentives. IUCN-Pakistan has engaged corporate sector and planted millions of mangroves for the ecological restoration of coastal ecosystems in the Indus Delta and along the Balochistan coastline. IUCN-Pakistan has recently conducted ecological baseline of Thar Desert ecosystem. It also worked to benefit the local communities through promotion of herbal and medicinal plant conservation and sustainable use, climate smart agriculture, sustainable fisheries and water resource conservation and environmental stewardship.
Pakistan’s Sixth National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has been prepared by IUCN Pakistan in line with Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABT) 2011-2020 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 to meet the national as well as global commitment to implement the objectives of UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The report reflects the progress made by Pakistan on the Biodiversity Conservation since the last report. Pakistan is a signatory to the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity and hence regularly reports the progress on the conservation of the Biodiversity.
IUCN has been in discussion with Governments of China and Pakistan to ensure environmental safeguards along CPEC. In this regard, IUCN has hosted numerous meetings and delegations from China who have shared their expertise to further the cause of sustainable development in CPEC.
IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity Platform started off with its first chapter at the Port Qasim Area, in collaboration with top-notch private sector companies in Karachi. It has in its short duration launched a million mangroves plantation initiative, engaged businesses to provide their feedback on environmental degradation in the PQA area with a view to environmental betterment, and carried out exposure visits. This is a promising initiative meant to encourage businesses to invest in ecosystems and sustainable development.
IUCN Pakistan conducted the Biodiversity Impact Assessment of Billion Tree Afforestation Project in KP and provided recommendations in the light of Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Bonn Challenge and SDGs. The recommendations were given high importance and corrected measures were incorporated to enhance the linkages between the afforestation efforts and biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, while formulating the TBTTP, the IUCN recommendations were given due weightage.
Presently, IUCN Pakistan is implementing the Biodiversity Management Plan prepared for 720 MW Karot Hydropower project in partnership with the Governments of Punjab and AJK, local communities and schools through funding from Karot Hydropower Company (Pvt) Limited, initially for 2 years (2021-2022). Based on the remarkable performance of IUCN, the respective governments have endorsed extension of the project period for another 3 years. Multifunctional Management Plans for the two newly national parks of Azad Pattan and Murree Kahuta Kotli are being prepared to address the biodiversity concerns.
The theme for the year “Building a shared future for all life” relays a message that the future of life on earth depends on the existence of entire life together. Being the custodians of the earth human-beings have a major role in conserving and protecting the Biodiversity on this earth. It is the time to focus on the nature-based solutions, more than ever.
Every year, on May 22, International Biodiversity Day celebration renews our resolve and commitment to conserving biodiversity, for the betterment of nature overall and for people as a whole.
Mahmood Akhtar Cheema
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Main Nazimuddin Road, Sector F-7/4, Islamabad, Pakistan