Rationale for Establishing the Ethiopian National Biodiversity Platform (NBP-Ethiopia)

Ethiopia is in the Horn of Africa extending between 3o–15oN latitudes and 33o– 48oE longitudes. The country has a total area of 1.13 million km2. The Country’s topographic feature is complex consisting of depressions, deep gorges and valleys, flatlands, rugged and rolling mountains, some with flat-topped plateaus. The altitudinal variation ranges from 125m below sea level at Afar Depression to a peak altitude of 4533m above sea level at Mount Ras Dashen. The diverse topography resulted in enormous climatic variability as reflected by wide variations in rainfall, humidity, and temperature. The topographic and environmental variability, coupled with cultural diversity which is expressed by the existence of more than 80 language groups, made the Ethiopia one of biodiversity rich countries of the world. Furthermore, the country is a center of origin and diversity for multiple crops. Significant parts of the two biodiversity Hot spots of the globe, the Eastern Afromontane and the Horn of Africa hotspots, lie within the territory of Ethiopia. This feature made Ethiopia a home for unique and essential biodiversity that encompasses diverse endemic plant and animal species.

Nevertheless, the rich biological resources of the Country and the associated knowledge are threatened by natural and anthropogonic factors that have already caused noticeable harmful impacts by depleting the biological diversity as well as the ecosystems services they render.

Ethiopia has been endeavoring to either reduce or halt impacts that are occurring to biodiversity and ecosystem services because of underlying drivers and associated pressures. Being a pioneer country in signing and endorsing the Convention in Biological Diversity (CBD), Ethiopia has been working towards the successful achievement of the pillar objectives of the Convention that pertain to conservation, sustainable utilization equitable benefit sharing of benefits. Furthermore, Ethiopia has joined the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) upon its establishment. Following this, the Country has been contributing to the work programme of IPBES and undertook some concrete activities. One of the undertakings is conducting a National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) as per the assessment guideline of IPBES.  The NEA, besides resulting in significant findings on the conservation status and trends of change in biodiversity and ecosystem services, has led to formulation of recommendations and also conducting a scenario analysis. Furthermore, in stimulated the establishment of the National Biodiversity Platform (NBP-Ethiopia) which has been operational since May 2022.

The Platform aims to strengthen the science-policy-action interface through enhanced engagement of the policy/decision makers, the scientific community and actors with respect to conservation of  Ethiopia’s biological resources, maintenance of ecosystem services and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. In line with this, the NBP-Ethiopia is supposed to constitute a platform that connects diverse stakeholders (policy makers, scientists, civil society, private sector and local communities) which have concern for and role in the protection of the environment, conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem services. Furthermore, it facilitates communication between policy makers and the scientific community thereby fostering the uptake of policy relevant scientific evidence and also undertaking problem solving oriented research.  Likewise, the Platform will be instrumental in informing the business sector about the biodiversity-business nexus and also the need for making appropriate considerations that pertain to biodiversity and environment when engaging in any business venture.

The NBP-Ethiopia, that consists of over one hundred members, has an organizational structure and operational guidelines. As part of this, key principles have been drown and adopted by the Plenary (General Assembly) of the Platform. This includes:

  1. Legitimacy: inclusiveness, transparency in designing policy decision processes, recognizing and valuing wide arrays of viewpoints or ideas;
  2. Relevance: the compatibility of the science-policy interferences with the dynamicity of conservation and societal needs and the usability of knowledge generated.
  3. Credibility: evidence quality and validity of the knowledge exchange processes at the policy-science interface.
  4. Adaptability: adaptive management processes based on the evaluation of the success and failure, and ensuring of the constructive governance system; and
  5. Equity: ensuring prior and informed consent of local communities in conservation and sustainable utilization biological resources, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and associated community knowledge.

Vision

Building a society that values biodiversity and contributes to its conservation and sustainable utilization concurrently attaching significance to ensuring of benefit sharing arising from the use of biological resources.

Mission

To create space for policymakers, scientists, and practitioners to jointly design and implement transformative biodiversity and ecosystem services related undertakings; facilitate synergy among multi-stakeholders vis-à-vis efforts targeting conservation outcomes; promote the generation of biodiversity-related data and also the recognition and integration of local community knowledge; and influence the formulation of biodiversity-related policies, strategies, and other relevant  legal frameworks as well as the putting in place of appropriate institutional structures. To create space for policymakers, scientists, and practitioners to jointly design and implement transformative biodiversity and ecosystem services related undertakings; facilitate synergy among multi-stakeholders vis-à-vis efforts targeting conservation outcomes; promote the generation of biodiversity-related data and also the recognition and integration of local community knowledge; and influence the formulation of biodiversity-related policies, strategies, and other relevant  legal frameworks as well as the putting in place of appropriate institutional structures.

Objectives

The National Biodiversity Platform (NBP-Ethiopia) is established to:

• Raise awareness, build the capacity of science and policy communities, and strengthen communication networks for information and knowledge sharing around biodiversity and ecosystem services,

• Enable engagement of experts and other knowledge holders in undertaking biodiversity policy relevant research,

• Enable engagement of scientists, practitioners and local communities in decision making processes,

• Enhance the recognition and use of indigenous and local knowledge in decision making and intervention programs,

• Encourage the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation issues into sectoral plans,

• Disseminate and use the findings from Ethiopia’s national ecosystem assessment and other similar ventures,

• Support and connect the national implementation processes with the international context and conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Convention to Combat Desertification, and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Institutional Setup

The NBP-Ethiopia hosted by the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI), the primary national entity in charge of conserving the country’s biodiversity, the conservation of biological resources and ensuring equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.  EBI serves as secretariat to NBP-Ethiopia while the overall operation of the NBP is coordinated by the National Focal Point of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The NBP-Ethiopia’s Executive committee (EC), that consists of permanent and periodically elected members, is responsible for planning of activities, monitoring implementation and reporting.