Making the SDGs work for the Lake Chad Basin
Monday, 16 July 2018
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Conference Room 11, UNHQ
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.
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
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
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
6.30 p.m.: High Level Opening Session
- Welcome remarks by Ms Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for
- 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
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
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
8.00 pm: Cocktail
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.