The environment is one of the five pillars of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is also playing an increasingly central role within the United Nations. Below is a brief introduction to this policy theme.

International cooperation for the protection of biological diversity and ecosystems

Find out more about the United Nations Biodiversity Convention and Belgian development cooperation and biodiversity.
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United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) seeks to halt the decline in the number of plant and animal species. The Nagoya Protocol of this Convention regulates the access to and equitable sharing of natural genetic resources. 2020 is an important year for international cooperation on the protection of biodiversity. In 2010, the Aichi targets were set, which established what should be achieved by the UN member states in order to implement the CBD by 2020 around 5 strategic objectives. These 5 targets are:

  • addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across all sectors of society;
  • reducing the immediate pressure on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use;
  • improving the state of biodiversity by protecting ecosystems, species and genetic diversity;
  • increasing the benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services for all;
  • improving implementation of the Convention through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building/

Also important for biodiversity are numerous conventions on protecting biotopes such as the marine environment, wetlands, forests or cross-border nature reserves, or the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species.

biosafety protocol for this Convention aims to minimise the risks posed by genetically modified organisms.

The FPS Foreign Affairs is represented in the Belgian delegation involved in the negotiations on the implementation of the Convention. The FPS mainly monitors aspects relating to international financing, international cooperation and support for the South.

Negotiations on a new Global Framework for the Protection of Biodiversity are currently underway.

Belgian development cooperation and biodiversity

The Law on Belgian Development Cooperation of 19 March 2013 stipulates that "Belgian development cooperation is enshrined in the principles, declarations and treaties of the United Nations concerning development and the environment, as well as human rights in all their dimensions" and that "the protection of the environment and natural resources, including the battle against climate change, drought and global deforestation" is integrated as one of the priority themes.

Belgian development cooperation therefore contributes to the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity through various programmes and projects.

The cooperation with the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) through the programme Capacities for Biodiversity and Sustainable Development (CEBioS) is very important in this respect. CEBioS has a 10-year strategy (2014-2023) consisting of 2 work plans of 5 years each (2014-2018 and 2019-2023), with an average annual budget of €1.2 million for the period 2014-2018 and €1.4 million for 2019 and 2020. The programme focuses on capacity development for the partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation in the field of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, linked to poverty reduction. The main activities within the programme include institutional cooperation with partner organisations, calls for proposals for short exhibitions, workshops, training, policy support, special projects, awareness-raising and publications.

The 4 current strategic objectives of CEBioS are:

  1. strengthening the scientific and technical knowledge base on biological diversity in the South: results of scientific research are used to strengthen the sustainable management, use and protection of biological diversity and ecosystems;
  2. national implementing authorities, along with their partners, strengthen the sustainable management and use of biological diversity and ecosystem services to support rural populations through the development of good practices and value chains;
  3. policy-makers and stakeholders develop effective strategies, policy measures and action plans for enhancing biodiversity protection; and
  4. strengthening the synergy between the various Belgian development cooperation partners (multilateral partners, Enabel, civil society and the private sector) to achieve sustainable development by mainstreaming biodiversity in their actions.

In addition, the Belgian Development Cooperation supports the achievement of the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity through funding for multilateral institutions, such as the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Programme, and through specific national programmes run by Enabel. Non-governmental organisations such as WWF, Join for Water and BOS+ also contribute to the protection of ecosystems in the South, supported by Belgian development cooperation.