|15th of September Marks Simultaneous Worldwide Citizen Consultation on Biodiversity|
|Thursday, 06 September 2012 15:41|
On September 15 2012, thousands of citizens from various countries all over the world will take part in a simultaneous global consultation meeting on biodiversity policy and issues. They will be joined by more than 100 Filipinos from all walks of life who have been invited to share knowledge and views on local biodiversity issues and policy gaps.
This global citizen participation project, dubbed “World Wide Views on Biodiversity” or WWViews, was designed to provide policymakers with information about citizens’ views on biodiversity issues. It aims to engage ordinary citizens in the process of policymaking and awareness-raising to sustain a living and healthy planet. On this date, at least a hundred citizens in each participating country will attend day-long meetings starting at dawn in the Pacific and continue until dusk in the Americas. All meetings will have the same agenda and use the same approach in order to make results comparable and useful for policymakers.
This projectis the second of its kind, the first one being Worldwide Views on Global warming which was successfully conducted last September 26 2009. Both events were initiated by the Danish Ministry of the Environment and co-implemented by countries worldwide with coordination support from the Danish Board of Technology and oversight from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In the Philippines, WWViews is being implemented bythe World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (DENR-PAWB), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the College of forestry and Natural Resources of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB-CFNR). The September 15 meeting will be held at the Trader’s Hotel in Manila.
Local Citizen Participation on a Global Scale
The idea of WWviews is to introduce citizen participation, not only on the national but on a global level. Each participant will answer the same set of questions at the same time. The strength of this concept lies in the relation between nationally well-coordinated citizen meetings and trans-national analysis.
To ensure the reliability of the results, the citizens at each meeting should reflect the demographic distribution in their country or region with regards to age, gender, occupation, education, and geographical zone of residency. A further criterion is that they should not be experts on biodiversity, neither as scientists or stakeholders.
According to WWViews Project Manager for the Philippines and ICRAF Assistant Project Director Dr. Florencia Pulhin, they are now in the process of identifying possible participants and sending out invitations. She explained that the 100 Filipino participants will be evenly distributed among geographic location (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao), municipal class (urban or rural), age group (young or adult), gender (male or female), educational attainment (elementary, high school, and college undergraduates and graduates), and occupation (unemployed, employed, and self-employed).
Dr. Pulhin further explained that during the consultation meetings, participants will not only learn and discuss about biodiversity issues, but will also have the opportunity to voice out their own recommendations to policy makers at the COP11. Results of the consultation meetings will be instantly accessible through periodic reports posted in the event website, where it can be compared across sectors, countries, and regions.
Results will then be analyzed and packaged into policy report and a short documentary video about the process and results, both of which will be presented at the COP11. Country results will also be presented to national policy makers. By pointing out concerns and priorities central to the public understanding of biodiversity, the results can serve as guide future policy initiatives. Furthermore, by examining public awareness of biodiversity, the results can also serve as important baseline for future awareness raising initiatives.
The WWViews project is also expected to bring about long term impacts, not only for future policy initiatives and further awareness raising activities on biodiversity policy and issues. The project can empower citizens and build their capacity for organizing public participation in complex policy issuesby demonstrating and establishing public participation in nations around the world. Finally, it can establish best practice for citizen participation for the United Nations.
Convention on Biological Diversity
The objectives of WWViews is aligned with the goals of the United NationsConvention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the implementation of the new Global Biodiversity Strategy signed during the Tenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP10) in Japan, October 2010. The CBD recognizes the importance of public awareness and support in the successful implementation of the strategic plan and its translation into national strategies and action plans.
The WWViews event is expected to lead to a deeper understanding of biodiversity issues among the participant citizens. It can also pave the way towards achieving the first strategic goal of the Global Biodiversity Strategy which aims to make people aware of the values of biodiversity. Furthermore, it can forge a deeper engagement among ordinary citizens and decision-makers.
As agreed upon during the COP10, two groups of citizens are particularly important in achieving the goals of the CBD. First is the general political constituency and second, the part of the constituency that is made up of young people whose views on biodiversity will shape future policies and actions. It is based on this that WWViews organizers structured the meetings to involve participants not just from these two groups, but from various segments of society.
Results of the WWViews meetings will be presented to policy makers gathering on October 2012 in India for the Eleventh Conference of Parties (COP11). This is to make decision-makers more attentive to the informed views of their constituents and to aid in the discussions on future policy measures for preserving biological diversity.