Islamabad, May 22, 2016 (PPI-OT):Federal Climate Change Secretary has pledged to stem biodiversity loss in the country in collaboration with all provincial forest and wildlife departments and non-governmental organisations. “We must realise that loss of biodiversity in all parts of the country has speeded up alarmingly and many wildlife and plant species are on the verge of extinction,” the Secretary Syed Abu Ahmad Akif stressed while addressing a concluding ceremony of the three-day national awareness-raising and training workshop on ‘Biodiversity conservation, Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of the their Benefits under the United Nations’ Nagoya Protocol’ here at a local hotel.
The International Day for Biological Diversity was also celebrated by the climate change ministry to highlight the role of biodiversity conservation for poverty reduction and achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The goals were adopted last year on September 25 and are to be achieved by year 2030.
The Biological Diversity Day is celebrated every year on May 22. This year it is being marked under the theme ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods’. The workshop and biodiversity day were organised by the ministry in partnership with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) under its GIZ Biodiversity Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Project and German Cooperation organisation.
The secretary Syed Abu Akif told the gathering of biodiversity, wildlife, forest, water experts, and conservationists that halting biodiversity loss should be taken as a national duty. “We must understand that biodiversity is the foundation for the life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It underpins peoples’ livelihoods and sustainable development in all realms of socio-economical activity, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing in people, their lives and their well-being,” he emphasised.
Pakistan provides habitats for 188 mammal species, of which six are endemic and 20 threatened with extinction. There are 666 bird species, of which 25 are endangered. As many as 174 reptile species are found in the country, 13 of them ranked as endemic species. The reptiles include 14 turtles, one crocodile, 90 lizards and 65 species of snakes. Besides, there are 22 amphibians, nine of them declared endemic. Total 198 fresh water fish species exist in the country and 29 of them endemics. So far more than 5,000 species of invertebrates have been identified. In addition, there are over 5,700 species of flowering plants, with over 400 species endemic in the country.
The country is also home to 26 national parks, 96 wildlife sanctuaries and 93 game reserve areas. Meanwhile, while counting causes of the biodiversity loss, he said that increasing population, spontaneous, reckless urbanisation, deforestation and overexploitation of natural resources are the main causes of the biodiversity loss.
However, the climate change secretary urged the biodiversity experts to prioritise the prevention of the threatened species first from becoming extinct by protecting them from threats like habitat loss due to unplanned urbanisation, population growth and pollution. Inspector General of Forests at the climate change ministry, Syed Mahmood Nasir, in his inaugural speech said, biodiversity is an important cross-cutting issue in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Goal 15 explicitly recognises the significance and benefits of putting an end to the biodiversity loss and recognizing the importance of biological diversity for fighting poverty, providing food and fresh-water, and improving the life, he pointed out. “It is critical that we make progress in mainstreaming biodiversity and transforming how societies value and manage it,” Syed Mahmood Nasir stressed.
Director Biodiversity at the Climate Change Ministry, Raja Naeem Ashraf, informed the participants that the ministry has hammered out a draft National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Talking about aims of the draft plan, Mr. Ashraf said, “The draft plan or NBSAP It aims to check the biodiversity loss by conserving and protecting the wildlife and plant species, restore ecosystems and promote sustainable use of natural resources for the wellbeing of the present and the future generations.”
Earlier, Mr. Wolfgang Hesse, policy advisor of GIZ, spoke on the importance of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) provides legal cover to access to Pakistan’s traditional knowledge and genetic resources.
He told the participants, that the Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). After 53 countries signed the Protocol, it was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and entered into force on 12 October 2014, It aims for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for achieving socio-economic and environmental development goals, Mr. Hesse added.
“It provides a transparent legal framework for the countries, which have signed the Protocol for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources,” The GIZ policy advisor Mr. Wolfgang Hesse elaborated.
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