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Making the SDGs work for the Lake Chad Basin
Monday, 16 July 2018
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Conference Room 11, UNHQ

Side Event

UNESCO and the Permanent Missions of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and the Central African Republic to the United Nations in collaboration with the African Development Bank and the Lake Chad Basin Commission. Background Lake Chad Basin is an important shared source of fresh water that provides livelihood services to more than 45 million people. It has great potential in terms of biodiversity and natural and cultural heritage, including World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites). Yet, the Lake Chad Basin region is facing a combination of the most devastating crises of our times – over the past decades, it has witnessed escalating security crisis interlinked with humanitarian and large-scale ecological crises. Over the last three decades, the area of Lake Chad has reduced drastically leading to significant imbalances resulting in an increased vulnerability of the hydro- socio-ecosystem with multiple impacts including the 10.7 million people in need of life saving assistance. Issues are diverse and interlinked: social, political, economic and gender inequalities, environmental challenges such as water scarcity, conservation of biodiversity, drought, desertification, and land degradation. Home and crossroad of multicultural communities for centuries, the area is facing a spread of violent extremism for the last decade. The United Nations’ Security Council has paid specific attention to the Lake Chad region. The adoption in 2017 of the Security Council resolution 2349 led to some progress on the security aspects, but much more still needs to be done to address the root causes of the ongoing crises and to achieve more sustainable peaceful solutions. As recently noted by the United Nations Deputy Secretary General “… security measures and military operations have proven their limits. There will be no sustaining peace without sustainable development; and development gains will always be at risk without lasting peace.” UNESCO BIOPALT Project To promote sustainable development for reconciliation and peace in the Lake Chad region, UNESCO developed a multisectoral and multidisciplinary response through the project “Biosphere and Heritage of Lake Chad” (BIOPALT) implemented in five countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Niger, Nigeria and Tchad). It mobilizes UNESCO's expertise involving primarily the Science Sector and the Culture Heritage Conventions including particularly the World Heritage Center (WHC), see annex I. The project links the efforts to implement the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development with those to address the security, humanitarian and environmental challenges faced by the region. It aims at contributing to poverty reduction (SDG 1) and promoting a culture of peace (SDG 16) by strengthening the capacity of member states to develop sustainable, equitable, inclusive and coordinated management of the hydrological, natural and cultural resources of Lake Chad Basin. The project combines the approaches to the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (SDG 6), UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (SDGs 15 and 13), the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Conventions (SDGs 11 and 15) in the context of Climate change mitigation (SDG 13). With this project, UNESCO seeks to meet the aspirations of sustainable development at all levels. Indeed, it is part of the global development priorities and strategies (including Agenda 2030, Paris Agreement, CBD and Aïchi targets, UNFCCU and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements) and regional development strategies such as Agenda 2063 for Africa. The BIOPALT project provides solutions to challenges related to conservation of biodiversity and loss of natural ecosystems, shortcomings in the production and sharing of scientific knowledge, non-participatory planning and limited governance in the sustainable and peaceful management of natural resources such as water, fishery products and land, all in the context of ongoing conflict and poverty, especially among rural populations. Gender (SDG 5) and youth integration crosscutting issues are integral parts of the project, as is the valorisation of local and indigenous knowledge that benefits from the work already done by UNESCO in the area, especially the UNESCO programme on Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS). The transboundary dimension of the Lake Chad Basin offers cooperation and sub-regional integration opportunities. BIOPALT supports neighboring countries to establish a transboundary cooperation (SDG 17) through biosphere reserves and World heritage sites within the Lake Chad basin area. It aims at improving evidence-based framework for water and natural resources cooperation supporting among others the implementation of Lake Chad Water Charter (SDG 6.5) and the Lake Chad Development and Adaptation Plan (2016-2025) (SDG 13). BIOPALT also benefits from other UNESCO fields of competences, mainly education, communication and social and human sciences. With regard to education, special attention is given to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) (SDG 4). Indeed, TVET provides opportunity for economic integration of Young people and Women (SDG 8.6) through fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources (SDG 15.6) supported by green economy businesses, sustainable tourism promoting local culture and products as well as restoration of ecosystems. BIOPALT will also benefit the youth in accordance to Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security, which acknowledges the urgent need to engage young men and women in promoting peace and countering extremism, as well as position youth and youth-led organizations as important partners in global efforts to counter violent extremism and promoting lasting peace (SDG 16). In fact, UNESCO will share experiences between BIOPALT and its project focusing on prevention of violent extremism (PVE) in the Sahel region. By providing an empowering framework, the objective of the latter is to enable young women and men to become active global citizens, be resilient to any forms of abuse or manipulation, and to mobilize critical thinking to counter radicalization and enrolment to terrorism, including violent extremism. Proposed side event at the HLPF The HLPF theme is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” focusing on implementation of SDGs (6, 7, 11, 12 and 15). In this context, the side event will show case the BIOPALT project as an example of an innovative project of multidisciplinary cooperation mobilizing the Organization’s expertise in the fields of Natural Sciences (Water and Ecological Sciences), Culture, Education and Social Sciences, which addresses several SDG’s, particularly SDGs 6, 11 and 15. It will provide a platform for governments, UN agencies, civil society and academia for reflecting on the relevance to adopt a multisectoral and integrated approach to contribute solving the crisis in the Lake Chad area. It will also show how biosphere reserves are learning places for sustainable development. The side event is organized with the five BIOPALT beneficiary countries. Draft Agenda: 6.30 p.m.: High Level Opening Session - Welcome remarks by Ms Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Science - Address by Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy UNSG (tbc) - Address by BIOPALT country representatives: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria and Niger 7.00 p.m. Main Session: - Screening BIOPALT project film Round table facilitated by M. Ibrahim Thiaw, Secretary-general’s Special Advisor for the Sahel, including:  Amb. Maman Nuhu, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission  M. Adeshola Olatunde Adepoju, Executive Director/CEO Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) and Chairman of African Network of Man and the Biosphere Programme (AfriMAB)  Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator, M’Bororo Indigenous Women and People Association of Chad (AFPAT)  African Development Bank (tbc) 7.50 pm: Conclusion by Ms. Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Science 8.00 pm: Cocktail Annex I Three pillars of the UNESCO BIOPALT project Among UNESCO’s programmes and normative mandates, the following are particularly relevant to address issues related to a hydro-socio-ecosystem as Lake Chad: - International Hydrological Programme (IHP) – SDG 6. UNESCO has accumulated more than 50 years of experience on water and has a unique global water network comprising the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). The IHP is an intergovernmental programme on water sciences mobilizing through its network more than 3,000 water related experts, policy makers and professionals from many different countries in contributing to solve water problems. The current eighth phase of the IHP (2014-2021) is on water security and the focus is on the cooperation to achieve it – a prerequisite for peace worldwide. The IHP is devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building. The Programme seeks to strengthen the policy-science interface, develop institutional capacity and mobilize international cooperation to support research, technology and innovation. Its intergovernmental nature ensures the link with expressed needs of Member States, which receive support from the UNESCO water network, the largest international network of water experts: 168 IHP national representatives, 37 category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO and 58 UNESCO Chairs in water. Furthermore, the IHP has extensive experience in the management of transboundary waters, both surface waters and aquifers. - Man and the Biosphere programme (MAB) - SDG 13 and 15 is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments. It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems. A biosphere reserve is an area in which UNESCO's MAB Programme is being implemented; thus, it promotes innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable. There are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches, to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. In a nutshell, Biosphere reserves are learning places for sustainable development. The Lima Action plan of the MAB programme highlights the key role of biosphere reserves in implementing Agenda 2030. - World Heritage Convention – SDG 11. The most significant feature of the 1972 World Heritage Convention is that it links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two. UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of the world's cultural and natural heritage, which is considered of outstanding value for humanity. Outstanding Universal Value expresses a cultural and / or natural significance that is so exceptional that it transcends national boundaries and is of common importance to present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of utmost importance to the international community as a whole.