Save the biodiversity - 1001 decisions

20th anniversary of the Belgian ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Picture: Thierry Hubin – RBINS)
23/05/2016
Save the biodiversity - 1001 decisions
post by
Sigrid Maebe

On May 20, 2016 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Belgian ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Biodiversity is life! But that life is threatened ... Following the global mobilization for the climate a similar political momentum for biodiversity, life on earth, is urgently needed.

More than 23 years ago Dr.  Jackie Van Goethem took up responsibility for the National Focal Point on Biodiversity for the Institute. The Institute was, according to General Director Camille Pisani, chosen because it had a credible reputation: tons of scientific expertise and political neutrality. It took another three years before all national parliaments (6!) had signed the Convention on Biodiversity. Fortunately, financial support followed by BELSPO, DG Development and DG Environment. Thus, the Focal Point grew into a dynamic structure that aims to encourage not only policy makers but also the general public into actions for biodiversity.

Debate with young politicians

Good decisions are necessary to make concrete progress. Therefore, on May 20, two days before the International Biodiversity Day on May 22, a panel discussion was organized on the future of biodiversity policy. During this day ministers presented their political decisions of the past and the future. Also the policy makers of tomorrow and the audience were involved in a debate between young politicians.

They note that there is still much work to do to include biodiversity in school curricula. . By that anyone can, from an early age on,  become ambassador for biodiversity. It was also suggested that companies that take positive action for biodiversity, should be rewarded with a label, or with economic benefits. A Flemish Minister for Sustainable Business should be installed, to show companies that they need not fear the investments, but that these are important for life on earth in the long term. Biodiversity protection in developing countries should be further promoted, but this should of course not serve as an excuse to do less in Belgium. International measures and cooperation are therefore a priority for all young politicians. The audience contributed concrete solutions related to plastic packaging, bicycle policy or taxes on aviation fuel, and according to the young politicians "politics can accomplish anything ", so the future looks good !

1001 ideas

In recent months the general public was [invited to come up with] OR [given the opportunity to present] innovative ideas to improve biodiversity. The winners of the contest “1001 ideas for biodiversity” were present on Friday to receive their award: a cruise on the research vessel RV Belgica, a flight with our observation plane, guided visits to the Antwerp Zoo and the Botanic Garden of Meise, but also FairPhones (Mobile phones made in a fair manner and with respect for nature) and even a bamboo bicycle ! So top prizes! These and other ideas are used in a new campaign “Save biodiversity – 1001 actions”, that was launched during the event.

During the networking lunch, the environmental administrations presented their field operations and projects using of information stands, movies, games and photo exhibitions. With more than 200 participants, this day was absolutely successful. And, since the regional and federal ministers have spoken out in a joint press release on the importance of combating the loss of biodiversity, we can speak of a positive day!

A common Press Release by Marie Christine Marghem, Federal Minister for Environment, Philippe De Backer, Federal Minister for Sea, René Collin, Walloon Minister for Biodiversity, Joke Schauvliege, Flemish Minister for Environment, Nature and agriculture, Céline Fremault, Minister of the Brussels Capital Regional Government, responsible for Housing, Quality of Life, Environment and Energy, has been written.

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