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U of M CLSP 4601W - Malawi Principles

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CBDCONVENTION ONBIOLOGICAL DIVERSITYDistr.GENERALUNEP/CBD/COP/4/Inf.920 March 1998ORIGINAL: ENGLISH/…CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THECONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITYFourth meetingBratislava, Slovakia4 to 15 May 1998Item 13 of the provisional agenda(Review of the operations of the Convention:Longer-term programme of work)Report of the Workshop on the Ecosystem ApproachLilongwe, Malawi, 26 - 28 January 1998Submission by the Governments of the Netherlands and MalawiUNEP/CBD/COP/4/Inf.9Page 2/…I. Introductory Remarks1. Due to the initiative and generous support of the Governments ofMalawi and the Netherlands, a CBD-Workshop on the Ecosystem Approach washeld in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 26 to 28 January 1998. The Workshop wasformally opened by Honorable F.V. Mayinga Mkandawire, M.P., Minister ofForestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs. The Minister underscoredthe importance of the process to discuss the ecosystem approach for theimplementation of the Convention. Prof. Dr. Herbert Prins welcomed theparticipants on behalf of the Government of the Netherlands andexpressed his satisfaction that the participants were eminent scientistswho were so willing to share their thoughts on the difficult issue ofthe ecosystem approach. The Workshop was co-chaired by Prof. Dr. HerbertPrins and Prof. Dr. James Seyani from Malawi.2. The debate was initiated by introductory remarks of Dr. FrancescoMauro in which he provided a short history of what is now referred to asthe “ecosystem approach” in the process of the Convention on BiologicalDiversity (CBD).3. The Convention on Biological Diversity defines in Article 2 anecosystem as “a complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communitiesand their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.”The ecosystem is one aspect of biological diversity which means“the variability among living organisms from all sources including,inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and theecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversitywithin species, between species and of ecosytems” (Article 2).4. The Convention states that “the fundamental requirement for theconservation of ecosystems and natural habitats is the in-situconservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance andrecovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings”(Preamble). In-situ conservation (Article 8) is complemented by thepromotion of ex-situ conservation (Article 9). These provisions providedtogether with the three objectives of the Convention - the conservationof biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and thefair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of geneticresources (Article 1) - and other relevant preambular statementsprovided the basis for the Conference of the Parties (COP) and itsSubsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice(SBSTTA) to elaborate on what is now referred to as ”the ecosystemapproach”.5. The importance of an ecosystem approach in addressing biologicaldiversity was directly or indirectly confirmed on several occasions,starting with the first two meeting of the SBSTTA in 1995 and 1996. Atthe second meeting of the SBSTTA the ecosystem approach was explicitlymentioned and, thereafter, the third meeting of the COP underscored theimportance of regional and ecosystem approaches for the development ofguidelines and indicators. As it is well known, the SBSTTA has decidedthat a main theme should be considered, together with cross-cuttingissues, at each of its meetings. Thus, the following thematic areas havebeen discussed so far: marine and coastal, agricultural, forest, andinland water biological diversity. All these themes, which are not atall equivalent to ecosystems but rather clusters to facilitatediscussions, have been considered according to a sort of ecosystemapproach and, in several occasions, the approach and the consequentindications for action were endorsed by the COP. In all instances, theUNEP/CBD/COP/4/Inf.9Page 3approach has been indicated although the terminology used varied:“ecosystem approach”, “ecosystem process-oriented approach”, “ecosystemmanagement approach”, “ecosystem-based approach” etc.6. In order to develop a common understanding of the ecosystemapproach, the Secretariat organized an informal discussion, held as aside-event at the third meeting of the SBSTTA in September 1997 inMontreal. In that occasion, where a draft discussion paper was providedas “provocative” background material, there was consensus among allparticipants that a discussion within the process of the CBD should beurgently initiated as there is a broad range of views about the meaning,scope and elements of the approach. At that meeting, several problemswere highlighted that need further discussion: terminology, types ofecosystems (“natural” vs. “man-modified”), underlying theoreticalassumptions, relation between ecosystem approach and ecosystemmanagement, problems of methodology, need for case studies, implicationsfor the implementation of the CBD with special reference to its modusoperandi and the legal implications. In conclusion, the participants tothat meeting suggested that a process should be initiated to foster thediscussion about the meaning and the elements/principles of theecosystem approach in the CBD, and that such a discussion should bereflected in an information document to be presented possibly at thefourth meeting of the COP, to be held from 4 to 15 May 1998 inBratislava, Slovakia, as a basis for further discussion and elaboration.The present workshop is the result of that suggestion and of theinitiative by the CBD-Secretariat to ensure an advancement of the debateon the ecosystem approach.7. During the three-day meeting which included an evening session,the participants discussed what they thought an ecosystem approachshould be and why an ecosystem approach should be taken to implementingthe Convention. After discussing those two questions, the focus laid onthe third question: What are the principles of an ecosystem approach?The participants considered that question as the most important one.II. Findings of the Workshop1. What is an ecosystem approach?8. Taking the provisions of the Convention and the deliberationswithin the process of the Convention into account, the participants ofthe Workshop developed the following description of the approach:The ecosystem approach is


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