Stakeholders at a two-day national workshop have underscored the need for duty-bearers to mainstream biodiversity into decision making at the national and local levels because of its significant economic benefits for livelihoods and poverty reduction.
They said the integration of biodiversity into the national development agenda was very crucial in achieving the country’s development objectives and Sustainable Development Goals.
While there is the general understanding that biodiversity is crucial for human survival and well-being, biodiversity information, which should be a key element in planning, is not adequately factored in national planning and development processes.
Indeed, there is less effort to ensure sustainable use of biodiversity for national development, culminating in the fast loss of the country’s biodiversity resources.
“One of the things we are losing sight of as a nation is the threat to biodiversity. There have been several alarms raised but unfortunately, we seem to be impervious to them. However, as we roll up our sleeves to work at the Sustainable Development Goals, the issues of biodiversity will constantly confront us,” Dr. George Essegbey, Co-Project Coordinator, Ghana Connect project said at the opening session of the second National Stakeholders Workshop.
Dr Essegbey said with the visible threat to biodiversity, the question of how to address the danger to biodiversity as a nation and how to ensure that biodiversity information regularly underpins decision making at the highest level of governance as well as at the lowest was key to avoiding the destruction.
Indeed, the contribution of biodiversity to the economy in terms of job creation, incomes, communities, exchange earnings, good forest products, export and protection of the environment had not received the requisite attention.
Professor Victor Agyeman, the Director-General Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, echoed the importance of biodiversity to agriculture, which has been selected as the focus sector for Ghana’s Connect project to consider for mainstreaming of diversity as there is sufficient data to inform decisions.
“Biodiversity underpins agriculture, which is the bedrock of the national economy. It is therefore very important that in the quest for increased productivity in the sector the biodiversity base is not destroyed,” he emphasised.
It is to push for this recognition that the United Nations Environmental Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is coordinating a four-year project (Connect) with Global GEF allocation of $5million.
Ghana, Mozambique, and Uganda are piloting the project with other partners, including International Institute for the Environment and Development (IIED) and Prospex.
Connect will help achieve sustainable development by bringing biodiversity information to the heart of government decision making processes using actionable biodiversity information.
In Ghana, the project is jointly implemented by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) and the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI) under a Memorandum of Understanding.
Mr Abisha Mapendembe, Programme Officer, UNEP-WCMC, said the project objective is to ensure that biodiversity was taken into account in decision making across government sectors by improving development decision makers’ access to and use of biodiversity information and embedding biodiversity information within national development decision making processes
To this end, the project would develop biodiversity information product for each of the pilot countries through demand driven processes that clearly understands the in-country demands for the information as the barriers to using the biodiversity information within government decision making processes.
It will also mobilise and repackage biodiversity data and information from a range of sources (national and international to meet the demands identified above and strengthen the connection between decision makers and biodiversity and ecosystem services data providers in order to sustainably provide policy relevant spatially explicit information to meet national needs.
Mr. Eric Okoree, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Authority, said there was the need to tackle issues of governance of biological biodiversity as it is key to human existence.
He said if proper attention is paid to biodiversity the fortunes of the country would change and the citizenry would be the ultimate beneficiaries.
Mr Ernest Lampety, Project Manager Ghana Connect, said enough progress had been made in moving the project forward but much more needed to be done to guide decision making, using biodiversity information.