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Links between nature, combating desertification and climate change to be enhanced

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 22 June 2012 – A number of organizations working to implement global agreements on biological diversity, combating desertification and climate change announced a pilot partnership designed to promote projects and programs that work across these environmental fields, finding synergies and delivering more effective results.

Today's announcement comes twenty years after the first Earth Summit gave rise to three interrelated Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – the so called Rio Conventions.

The pilot partnership between the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Environment Facility and a number of other partners aims to address the national implementation of the links among these conventions. The partnership was launched at the margins of Rio+20 Conference as part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Rio Conventions.
The partnership derives from the growing recognition that these environmental challenges are interrelated and cannot be effectively addressed individually. Responses to desertification, for example, can benefit biodiversity preservation as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Established with different mandates and adopted by different combinations of member nations, these organizations, in 20 years of international negotiations, have given rise to distinct entities and approaches. Environmentalists have increasingly understood the value of synergistic approaches to environmental challenges. Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and mitigation, sustainable natural resource based livelihoods and disaster management, among others, have demonstrated clear synergies between the Conventions. M. Anothony Lecern, Minister of Sustainable Development from New Caledonia stated, "We wish to outline the link between climate change, biodiversity, desertification and land degradation based on existing management projects that have an ecosystem-based approach." 

The partnership will strengthen the ability of participating countries to design and implement projects that contribute to the objectives of multiple Rio Conventions. As practical example this could include restoring mangroves to protect coastlines from sea level rise and provide critical habitat for fish and bird species. As another example, switching to a no till, crop rotation agriculture system can protect against land degradation while enhancing soil biodiversity. "Our idea of synergies is to have comprehensive approach to the problems and to ensure the additionality of the activities we are conducting in the field" explained Mr. Luis Gonzalez, the coordinator of the desertification and drought division in Guatemala.

Participating pilot countries include: Guatemala, India, Jamaica, New Caledonia and Vietnam. The national pilot was launched by senior officials from New Caledonia, Guatemala and Vietnam at an event held at the Rio Conventions Pavilion. Mr. Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity stated, "Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use and efforts to address climate change and desertification are intrinsically linked. The countries and partners participating in this pilot are leading the way scientifically, technically and politically towards the achievement of the objectives of all three Rio Conventions."

"Problem solvers have a tendency to break problems down into their component parts. This is a fine idea, in theory, but in the global environment, in practice, we have learned that seemingly separate problems need to be fused together and addressed with a unified strategy," said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF. "Finding synergies between the key Rio conventions can be a highly effective way to leverage scarce resources to deliver global environmental benefits."

Next steps include linking national project teams with technical experts within the CBD, the GEF, World Bank, UNEP, FAO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Birdlife International who will support the teams throughout the project preparation phase in order to strengthen the achievement of multiple benefits. Financial support will be provided by the EU's BEST initiative, the Government of Japan and the Government of Spain.

Progress by the pilot project will be reported on at the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in October 2012, Hyderabad, India.

Useful Facts Linking Biodiversity, Climate Change and Drylands / Land Degradation

  • It is projected that every 1C rise in global average temperature will put an additional 10-20% of species at increased risk of extinction
  • As a result of climate change, 30 of 69 tree plant species studied in the Amazon Basin could face extinction
  • A warming of 1 – 2°C is expected to decrease agricultural yields in arid, semi-arid and tropical regions while adaptation linked to agricultural biodiversity is expected to avoid 10-15% of this projected reduction
  • Over the past 100 years total available water in the Niger, Lake Chad and Senegal basins has decreased by 40-60%
  • Climate change has been linked to more frequent flooding in India, which has resulted in rice fields being threatened by two invasive alien weeds
  • The biome average for carbon storage in tropical dry forest is estimated at 120 tC/ha

Mr. John Diamond
Senior Communication Officer | Spokesperson
Phone +1 202 458 7953
Press Release No:06222012a


Mr. David Ainsworth
Information Officer
Phone +1 514 287 7012


About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $10.5 billion in grants and leveraging $51 billion in co-financing for over 2,700 projects in over 168 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 14,000 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $634 million. For more information, visit


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