Update on development of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

08/06/2000

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

"A joint assessment of condition and change in ecosystem goods and services undertaken for the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on Wetlands, and other partners, facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme"

Background

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a four-year international scientific assessment of: (a) the condition of Earth's ecosystems, (b) potential impacts of changes to ecosystems on their ability to meet human needs, and (c) policies, technologies, and tools to improve their management. The MA is designed to improve economic and environmental decisions by:

  • Improving the information used by decision-makers and the public;
  • Building capacity to undertake ecosystem assessments and act on their fmdings.

In 1998, The World Resources Institute (WRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank established an exploratory Steering Committee comprised of leading scientists and representatives of conventions, UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector to explore the demand and need for the MA and to recommend its focus, design, and governance. After extensive consultations, in October 1999 the Steering Committee called for the creation of the MA.

Ramsar participation

At the time of Ramsar COP7 in May 1999, participants received copies of an information paper concerning the proposed Assessment project, and as a result, in paragraph 10 of Resolution VII.20 on "Priorities for wetland inventory", the Conference of the Parties noted "the scope of the proposed Millennium Assessment of the World’s Ecosystems, currently under development, to deliver valuable related information of relevance to the application of the Convention".

The MA project is now almost ready to be launched, with more than 50% of the USD 20 million budget practically secured. The MA has acquired a particular significance for Ramsar, since the project is intended to provide "a joint assessment process to meet specified information needs" of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Wetlands. At the recent COP5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (May 2000), the COP adopted a paragraph within its Decision on "Operations of the Convention" that endorses CBD’s secretariat and SBSTTA participation in Executive Committee of the project.

The Millennium Assessment will be carried out under the guidance of a Board that comprises institutional representatives, including the executive officers and the chairs of the scientific bodies of the three Conventions, and "at large" Board members. The first meeting of the Board, at which the project and its general modus operandi will be formalized, will take place in Trondheim, Norway, on 16-17 July 2000, at the invitation of the Norwegian Government. The Ramsar Convention will be represented by the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, and STRP Member Dr. Yara Schaeffer-Novelli (Brazil), representing of the Chair of Ramsar’s STRP, Dr Jorge Jiménez, who is unable to attend.

On 13 May 2000, there was an "Organizing Meeting", in preparation for the Board meeting in Norway, at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, with the participation of the main institutions involved in the project: the three Conventions directly involved (Ramsar was represented by the Secretary General), UNEP, GEF, the World Bank, WRI and the Government of Norway. Further to prepare for the Board meeting in July, the Ramsar STRP has been invited to consider this issue at its 9th meeting, 28-30 June, and to provide advice to the Ramsar representatives on the Board on the issues to be discussed.

Further information on the MA will be provided as the project progresses.

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