IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Serena Hotels, celebrated the International Day for Biodiversity at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad on May 22, 2019. Theme for the day, this year was “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”.
The event was attended by the senior representatives of the federal and provincial government departments, international development partners, United Nation Agencies, Diplomatic Missions, Government ministries, academia, the private sector, as well as the media and environment experts. All the speakers appreciated IUCN in taking lead to organize and convene the stakeholders together at this important and informative event to share technical information and exchange of ideas and initiatives.
In his remarks the Chief Guest, H.E. Mr. Malik Amin Aslam, Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Government of Pakistan showed concern over the Biodiversity loss which can destabilize ecosystems, promote outbreaks of infectious diseases, and undermine the development progress, nutrition security and protection from natural disasters. Mr. Aslam also shed light on the recently launched Report on the “Impact of Billion Tree Afforestation Project on Biodiversity” by IUCN Pakistan. He added that the report also assesses the contributions of the project to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Convention on Biological Diversity and the Aichi Biodiversity targets. It also highlights the accomplishments of the project in terms of contributions of the BTAP to the goals, objectives and targets under the above-mentioned instruments.
While appreciating IUCN’s efforts over the years in this regards, he emphasized on the nature based solutions to revive the ecosystems. He also admired the convening power of IUCN to bring all the key stakeholders together through such events.
Syed Nazar Hussain Shah, Secretary Forest, Environment and Wildlife Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, laid emphasis on the need to arrange such events as they create awareness for all stakeholders and most importantly, generate understanding amongst the common people. He also highlighted the recent request of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on which IUCN has completed a study on the Billion Tree Afforestation Project assessing the Impact of the project on Biodiversity. The Billion Tree Afforestation project attaches special importance to biodiversity conservation under its objectives and puts special focus on biodiversity conservation and management to achieve Aichi targets, by encouraging natural and indigenous vegetation cover.
Appreciating the leadership of Ministry of Climate Change on its efforts to promote biodiversity, Ms. Mina Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative said: “We are supporting Ministry of National Food Security & Research through developing capacities of institutions working on gene banks. FAO promotes biodiversity through its work on genetic resources”.
Ms. Dowlatchahi also expressed the importance to educate ourselves about the importance of natural resources, in particular, forests. The theme of IDB 2019 covers several sustainable development goals ranging from 3, 14 and 15. Biodiversity creates resilience and is a key to mitigate the risks in agriculture particularly farming, from where we get most of our food. It ensures the world gets nutrients which is critical for good health and is also critical for conserving the ecosystem that produces the food. The food system coincides with the sustainable and nutrition sensitive agriculture system. In Pakistan, FAO has witnessed the action towards preserving biodiversity and in particular environment. There is a strong political will and MoCC is leading various such initiatives including a very sustained and active advocacy. FAO is also working to restore and rehabilitate Chilgoza pine forests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. This will help improve livelihoods of those associated with the Chilgoza pine value chain. There is a need for comprehensive and system wide analysis in Pakistan to enable policy makers to make informed decisions.
While talking about the success of Billion tree Afforestation project, it was mentioned by Ms. Dowlatchahi that in FAO’s regional forest outlook the BTAP project has been included as a good practice, other countries including New Zealand are also picking up this model.
Dr. Rizwan Irshad, Deputy Director Biodiversity, Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan expressed his remarks while providing an overview of this year’s theme of International Day for Biodiversity and highlighted the active role of MoCC in Biodiversity conservation and management through various on-going projects in Pakistan.
Mr. Asim Jamal, Environment/ Natural Resource Management Specialist, IUCN Pakistan presented the Impact of Billion Tree Afforestation Project on Biodiversity which was well acknowledged by the concerned departments and other stakeholders.
Dr. Moin Uddin, Director Corporate Strategy, Tourism Promotion Services (TPS), Serena Hotel presented the vote of thanks and reflected upon the commitment of Serena Hotels about their environmentally sustainable business. He also congratulated the speakers for enlightening the audience about the key topic of Biodiversity. He shared that through the long term MoU between Serena Hotels and IUCN, they look forward to continue taking joint initiatives.