The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have established a new global centre on ecosystem management in Beijing, which is aimed at promoting ecosystem management in developing countries. UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and Professor Chunli Bai, the President of CAS signed an agreement to establish the International Ecosystem Management Partnership of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-IEMP).
Mr. Steiner said he regards the UNEP-IEMP as the only UNEP initiative of its kind in the South and for the South to mobilize science to support policy setting for sustainable ecosystem management of all developing countries. He also emphasized that it is a foundational pillar of UNEP’s South-South Cooperation Exchange Mechanism, an initiative designed to enhance UNEP’s ability to deliver environmental capacity building and technology-support activities in developing countries and regions of the South.
Professor Bai would like to see the UNEP-IEMP become a true international center on ecosystem management in the south and for the south, providing technical and policy support for all developing countries within the framework of South-South Cooperation. He also hopes that UNEP-IEMP could become an important global platform for promoting ecological civilization.
UNEP and CAS have mandated the centre to support relevant UNEP sub-programmes such as Ecosystem Management and Climate Change, promote an ecosystem approach in the green economy in addition to supporting the South-South Cooperation initiative.
UNEP-IEMP will focus on monitoring and capacity building, integrated knowledge management and science for policy. As a UNEP collaborating centre, it complements and contributes to the work of UNEP divisions, regional offices and other collaborating centres. It also supports multilateral environmental agreements and mechanisms, in particular the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), for which technical support for assessments and capacity building in developing countries are expected.
China, a leading emerging economy, possesses a wealth of experience, good practices, knowledge and technology in the domain of ecosystem management, which could be shared with other developing countries. The Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN), an arm of CAS, is undertaking ecosystem monitoring, research, demonstration and policy support. Its unique approach of integrating science with policy setting is of particular importance to other developing countries.
The establishment of the centre comes at a critical time – following on from Rio+20, where world leaders granted ecosystem management unprecedented political weight and recognized the importance of South-South Cooperation and working with the science and technology community. UNEP-IEMP is also entering at a strategic moment, as China recently announced it would give ecological civilizationa more prominent position by incorporating it into the country’s overall development plan.
To prepare for the establishment of UNEP-IEMP as a fully fledged centre, UNEP and CAS launched the initiative in November 2011 in Beijing as an international programme. UNEP-IEMP has already developed a multi-national team and a comprehensive programme. Work has begun on the ground in Africa and Asia-Pacific, where Mauritania, Nepal, Rwanda and Seychelles are pilot countries. In support of Rio+20 and its follow-up actions, UNEP-IEMP completed eight policy papers on ecosystem management and green economy and organized two high-level fora engaging ministers, world science and business leaders, parliamentarians and principals of international and UN organizations.
The UNEP-IEMP is based in the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.