16 February 2022

Beirut time

Regional Consultation

Nature-based solutions for strengthening resilience

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  • Online

The Arab region is aiming to overcome the challenges to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly to SDG 15, 'Life on land', and interlinked SDGs. The regional consultative meeting considers the environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and seeks to accelerate progress on conserving biodiversity, mainstreaming nature-based solutions and combatting desertification for a more resilient Arab region.

The meeting is organized in partnership between Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE) Technical Secretariat, ESCWA and the United Nations Environment Programme/Regional Office for West Asia, under the umbrella of the CAMRE process. It will result in an outcome document that includes key messages and recommendations on the different paths to accelerate implementation of SDG 15. The outcome document will be submitted to the Arab Forum on Sustainable Development 2022 (15-17 March) and will inform the regional input to the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022 (5-15 July). The outcome document will also be presented at the upcoming session of the CAMRE in 2022.

The meeting gathers government experts from the Arab countries, practitioners and advocates of the environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, as well as concerned regional organizations. Other regional stakeholders and experts and members of the League of Arab States' "Arab Working Group on the implementation of biodiversity and desertification related Multilateral Environmental Agreements" are also invited.

Outcome document

  • The Arab region suffers from an accelerating loss of arable lands and biodiversity and faces various challenges for achieving the targets of SDG15, which highlights the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to biodiversity protection. It is necessary to unify efforts and enhance synergies between countries of the region and specialized organizations and ensure effective participation in the implementation of regional initiatives for the rehabilitation and management of degraded ecosystems.

  • The Arab region is rich in biological diversity in terms of species and numbers, and those have adapted to pressures resulting from difficult natural and man-made conditions, therefore, this rich biological diversity must be preserved because it is an important source for the continuation of life on Earth.

  • Importance of benefiting from mobilizing of international efforts through interlinkages and synergies with regards to international processes such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention on Combating Land Degradation, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the Glasgow Climate Pact.

  • Benefit from global mobilization efforts, align national policies and strategies with global processes, and achieve a serious political commitment to halt ecosystems deterioration.

  • Encourage countries' reliance on nature-based solutions for achieving synergies between biodiversity preservation, combating desertification and land degradation and mitigating drought effects.

  • Integrate nature-based solutions into post-COVID-19 recovery plans, including those related to climate change, and work to comprehensively design nature-based solution interventions in line with ecosystem management strategies and urban and rural planning activities.

  • Develop national and regional investments to support countries in implementing their commitments to reduce biodiversity loss and land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought, especially in developing Arab countries and those suffering from conflicts.

  • Effective biodiversity and land conservation efforts depend on traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous communities and on the complementarity of those with modern technologies, with a focus on the role of indigenous peoples in achieving this.

  • All nature conservation initiatives must be subject to accountability in order to properly assess their impacts and intensify monitoring, reporting and verification efforts in this context.

  • Adopt a participatory approach from  segments of society to develop plans, budgets and implement programs, and involve everyone in preservation of ecosystems, including from civil society organizations, farmers and others, and especially with regards to participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities..

  • Strengthen regional partnerships to support regional planning, increase knowledge and share experiences on transboundary issues related to combating desertification and preserving biodiversity.

Meeting organizers (ESCWA, LAS and UNEP-ROWA) welcomed participants and set the scene for the discussion. The meeting’s agenda was presented along with a presentation on the importance of advancing the achievement of SDG 15 to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and curb biodiversity loss in Arab region. Major facts and figures from the region were also presented along with challenges hindering attainment of Goal 15. The important role of nature-based solution in addressing these challenges, and efforts of the Arab Group on biodiversity conservation were also discussed.

The session focused on the importance of managing drought and combatting land degradation and desertification in the region. A general briefing on the regional related processes was given and was followed by several interventions from countries highlighting specific case studies such as the Green Dam project as a tool to combat desertification in Algeria, the protected areas in Libya and the Lebanese Reforestation initiative in Lebanon (LRI). Interventions from regional organization working in this field were also given focusing mainly on the tools and means to combat desertification (ACSAD) and the role of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UNEP).

The second session highlighted the importance of investing in nature-based solution as a key accelerator to enhance the implementation of SDG 15 and to combat climate change. Discussions during this session covered mainly the benefits of adopting such solutions and their impacts on protecting ecosystems of the region. Specific country initiatives were also presented, and lessons learned were shared with participants, these initiatives included the use of Nature Based Solutions in Saudi Arabia, the Moroccan forestation strategy 2020-2030 and the environmental dimension of the Arab strategy for sustainable agricultural development 2030 (AOAD).

During the third and last session of this meeting the importance of strengthening sectoral linkages with biodiversity and their role in advancing achievement of SDG 15 were discussed. A brief presentation on the governance of biodiversity was given from an academia perspective followed by IUCN’s overview of key areas of work in the region in relation to biodiversity and desertification issues. Country-specific interventions were also provided during this session, notably the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) of Palestine, and a glimpse of the role of young entrepreneurs in harnessing innovative ideas for biodiversity conservation and natural resources sustainability was communicated through the lens of a young female entrepreneur from Algeria.

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