Updated guidance published today by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will help governments to strengthen biodiversity monitoring as a basis for sharpened biodiversity protection policies across all sectors.
The guidance is the first of its kind to build on the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15) in December 2022.
This comes at a crucial moment, with global biodiversity declining faster than at any time in human history. According to the 2022 UNECE report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the pan-European region and North America needs to act urgently to reverse trends for biodiversity loss (target 15.5).
“The adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework offers hope when we need it most. But commitment is only as good as the action that follows”, said UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova, who welcomed this new tool to support countries’ practical measures. The guidelines will help countries take informed decisions on how to minimize health, environmental and socioeconomic risks resulting from biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to maximize benefits from biodiversity and ecosystems.
Initially developed for countries of Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, the updated guidelines aim to help countries in the UNECE region and beyond to make biodiversity monitoring a practical tool for environmental policy, especially in the development of plans and strategies on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation objectives across policy sectors. The guidelines cover areas ranging from climate change mitigation and adaptation, to use by businesses, Ecosystem Accounting within the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), and public communication and awareness raising.
This new resource will help countries to harmonize their national biodiversity policy approaches with the internationally agreed Global Biodiversity Framework, and to update their national targets and indicators as part of their national biodiversity management systems.
The updated guidelines reflect developments in the international policy framework, innovation in approaches and methodologies in monitoring and data management, as well as the experience and lessons learned by member States since their first iteration in 2013. They are informed by the findings of UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews, as well as the sixth and seventh Pan-European Environmental Assessments. The guidelines also draw on experience gained in countries of the European Union and in other countries where coherent systems of biodiversity surveillance and management have been developed and implemented.
Anchored in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the guidelines also take into account relevant international activities, requirements, guidance documents and recommendations, especially those developed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) and the UNECE Joint Task Force on Environmental Statistics and Indicators. They further strengthen synergies with countries’ efforts under key treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and on monitoring and assessment of air pollution impacts on forest ecosystems under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.