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Janssens D. B. Luc and Koeijer D. Han (2014)

DGD-RBINS report 2013

RBINS.

Highlights 2013: Junction Year In 2013 we developed the new five year programme 2014-2018 within the strategic vision 2014-2023. At the same time, the existing cooperation protocol between DGD and RBINS has been rewritten and put into a different format, with as signatories the ministers of cooperation and science policy. The 2013 programme helped facilitate the transition towards the new vision inscribed in the coming framework programme for 2014-2018. As in previous years, we continued our training, networking and institutional strengthening activities on biodiversity linked to sustainable development. But we also strived to bring about changes in mind-sets, in RBINS and our partners, to integrate the guiding principles of the next framework programme, being a more institutional and integrated approach and more attention towards ecosystem services and the link to poverty. This is also the last year starting in April and ending in March of the following year. The next annual programmes will follow calendar years. It is also the last year following the five axes GTI, IMAB, CHM, POL and COORD. From 2014 onwards, the 6 new strategic objectives (Science, Information, Awareness, Policy, MRV, Nagoya Protocol) will provide a new structure in response to new challenges and priorities. In May 2013, the vacant position of coordinator of the DGD project was taken up by Dr. Luc Janssens de Bisthoven, succeeding Dr. Anne Franklin. The DGD-RBINS programme is now part of the newly created operational Directorate ‘Nature’, with operational director Dr. Patrick Roose, and actively involved in several new committees such as CFC (committee of functional chiefs) and BIOPOLS (Biodiversity Policy Service). BIOPOLS is regrouping the National Focal Point CBD, marine policy, the Belgian Biodiversity Platform and Conservation Biology of RBINS. The team was involved in the formulation of the new strategic action plan of the OD, including the making of a SWOT-analysis and a synthesis of the past five years. The team also participated in several rounds of preparation at BELSPO for the formulation of the new BRAIN calls of 2014, a consultation about European research networks in Africa and the conference ‘Conservation Research Matters’ conference, organised by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform. The team was also instrumental for the cooperation between BELSPO and the International Foundation for Science (www.ifs.se ) by suggesting an adequate modus operandi, and trying to create links towards the new institutional cooperation with Bénin. Concerning the internal management, we further optimized some administrative processes such as insurances, contracts, equipment donations, and we obtained a free waiver for taxes concerning export of small material to developing countries from the Ministry of Finance. The team was trained in Project Cycle Management in order to fulfil the expectations to work in a result based management approach. In order to increase transparency, visibility, networking and interaction, we are working on an own website which will go online in 2014. Policy work was carried out in the framework of Sustainable Development Solutions Network (http://unsdsn.org/), with participation in the global brainstorming to develop new Sustainable deveopment Goals (SDGs) which will replace the MDGs in 2015, and which were the central theme at 6 | P a g e the ‘assises for cooperation’ organised by DGD in May 2013. Similarly, we were involved with DGD in the ENVIRONET project of OECD (http://www.oecd.org/dac/environment-development/ aboutusenviron et.htm ) for a scoping paper on biodiversity and development. Also the participation to the Chennai recommendations on biodiversity and development towards WIGRI5 and COP12 (2014) was an important policy activity in 2013 (mentioned in ‘Science connect’ nr. 43), next to being part of the Belgian delegation at SBSSTA17. The team contributed to the peer review of many policy documents at European and Belgian level, the three main being the EU position on the Nagoya protocol, the National Strategy and Action Plan for Biodiversity and the National Report on Biodiversity. As steps towards a new approach in the programme to be more involved in the East African region, we supported, on invitation of Prof. Dirk Verschuren (UGent) a workshop in Naivasha, organised by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya, on soda lakes, by financing the participation of community leaders in order to facilitate scientific knowledge transfer to the local communities. The protocol of Nagoya, meanwhile ratified by Kenya, was also an important point of discussion. Further, we made the first steps to start some cooperation with VVOB in D.R. Congo on raising awareness for biodiversity at the level of professional schools in agro-forestry. This resulted into a workshop involving both the education stakeholders of VVOB and the biodiversity stakeholders of RBINS at ministerial and focal point level, financed by VVOB. Our interventions are being amplified with the consolidation of institutional partnerships with the ‘Institut National pour l’Environnement et la Conservation de la Nature’ (INECN) in Burundi and the launching of a new partnership with the ‘Université Abomey-Calavi’ (UAC) in Benin through recent formulation missions (Burundi: March 2014, this annual report; Bénin: April 2014, next report). These two partnerships will give more opportunities for the integration of an ‘ecosystem services’ angle and poverty reduction to research activities. In 2013 the institutional partnership with INECN (Burundi) continued well with the preparation of a lexicon about the dominant plants of the Kibera National Park, where over 230 plant species were recorded. In DR Congo, the partnership with the “Institut Congolais de la Conservation de la Nature” (ICCN) included the monitoring of the dynamics of habitats in the Parc National Kahuzi Biega, the natural reserve of Itombwe. Moreover, research on ecosystem services has been supported through PhD and Masters for the areas of Bombo Lumene and Luswishi. Institutional cooperation also continued with the Centre de Surveillance de la Biodiversité (CSB) at the University of Kisangani (D.R. Congo). More specifically, four scientists of the University of Kisangani were supported through stays in Belgium and support locally in order to build up capacities for their thesis research in the areas of Salmonellosis, bushmeat and fisheries, next to strengthening capacities in collection management. Taxonomy (via the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI)), information networks (Clearing House mechanism (CHM)), and ‘biodiversity inventories, monitoring and assessments’ (IMAB) remained the three main pillars of our programme. However, all three sub-programmes progressively put more emphasis on the poverty reduction and ecosystem services and institutional integration, as outlined in the new 10 year strategy 2014-2023. Most of the activities under the GTI and CHM were consolidated, by focusing primarily on existing partnerships and projects. Some activities, such as ‘Taxonomic training through research’ and ‘Taxonomic training and access to collections in Belgium’, 7 | P a g e are in a review phase with the intention of orientating them towards our new vision (multi-year, more integrated in institutional support). At the activities level, 2013 will be remembered as a particularly fruitful year for our activities under the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI). We supported projects and workshops in Vietnam, DR Congo, Ivory Coast and Burundi. We also invited 15 foreign young or experienced researchers to Belgium, coming from the following partner countries: Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Philipinnes, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Vietnam. These researchers were thus able to receive a training on top-level taxonomical research. Several scientific and technical papers were produced by our partners both in Belgium and in the South. Finally, we facilitated the publication of the 14 th volume of our series of capacity building manuals, Abc Taxa, dedicated to the Bryophytes of Rwanda. Concerning IMAB, in 2013, a manual entitled “Habitats du Parc National de Kahuzi-Biega (R.D. Congo) - connaître et suivre leur évolution à l’aide d’un lexique des plantes” was published. It lists 147 plants observed and it includes the vernacular names (in the Mashi, Kitembo and Kilega languages) as well as photographs of of these plants. This lexicon is an important didactic tool for the monitoring of habitats in the park. The tool will be used by the rangers, among others, not only to help them identify which habitats they are monitoring, but also to introduce educational initiatives in the field of environmental awareness. The team developing the hydraulic marine ecosystem model “COHERENS” continued providing distance coaching to its partners, as well as in house training, more specifically with experts from Brazil and Columbia, two countries now excluded from the list of eligible partner countries. Therefore, the missions in these countries were both last training opportunities, and exit discussions about exploration for continued cooperation with other funding. The year 2013 was for Coherens a year of re-orientation towards the new institutional cooperation in Peru (formulation planned in summer 2014) and Vietnam (formulation planned in April 2015). Discussions are also planned with partners in Algeria and Tanzania. For the Clearing House Mechanism (CHM), our activities were partly influenced by decisions taken at the international level. In 2010, the 10 th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a new Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This strategic plan reinforces the role of the CHM as a centralising information mechanism in support of its implementation. A Pilot project initiated in 2011 to develop a tool for reporting for the NBSAP towards the AICHI targets was tested in 2012 by our CHM partners. We also demonstrated the tool in a side-event during COP11, SBSTTA-17 (2013) as well as during an EU CHM network meeting and an EU CGBN meeting. The EU CHM meeting decided that the principals of the tool are very useful and decided to continue the development of it and to include indicators. In 2013, a EU Working group worked on the further development of the Tool. In parallel, we continued in 2013 our webmaster training activities, with two training workshops in Belgium for web masters from D.R. Congo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire and national workshops in Cameroun and Côte d’Ivoire. We added a new element to the national training workshop by promoting two follow up training sessions of 1-2 days after the national training to ensure that the participants become really involved in the CHM.

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