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Panel discussion in the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations (UN) in New York: "Learning from Community Action - Biodiversity and the Millennium Development Goals"

The Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nation in New York organized a panel discussion on the occasion of this year's international Day for Biological Diversity on 19th May, in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), the Development Programme of the United Nations (UNDP), the Equator Initiative of the Canadian Government, the GEF Small Grants Programme, InWEnt and the Magazin GEO at which internationally distinguished participants took part. The focus of the debate was Biological Diversity as a part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the role of local communities in achieving the objectives.

The panel discussion was opened by Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, Dr. Günter Pleuger and UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown. About 220 guests participated in the panel, among them numerous delegates of the third UN-Forum on Indigenous Issues, diplomats, students and journalists.

Speech of Dr. Gunter Pleuger on 19 May 2004
Panel discussion
Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad, Green Foundation, India presents her work
Benny Roman, Torra Conservancy, Namibia is awarded wit the Wquator-Prize
Speech of Ambassador Dr. Gunter Pleuger
Benny Roman, Torra Conservancy, Namibia
Mark Malloch Brown and 3 of this year's Equator Prize winners
Panel discussion with  Ezequiel Vitonás vom Proyeto Nasa
D. Wolter, M. Meister, A. Gettkant, C. Hoyos

During the first half of the meeting 3 of 7 this year's winners of the Equator-Initiative from India (Green Foundation), Colombia (Proyecto NASA) and Namibia (Torra Conservancy) were presented. The primarily concern within the scope of the awarded projects was how poverty alleviation and conservation of biodiversity can be combined under participation of the local communities. In addition to Mark Malloch Brown the scientific editor of the magazine GEO Mr Martin Meister introduced the laureates und interrogated them about their work.

The following panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Tom Lovejoy President of Heinz Foundation. Nobel Prize winner and Kofi Annan's Consultor Prof. Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University, the head of the Amazon Conservation Team and the well-known ethno-botanist Dr Mark Plotkin, took part at the panel. Furthermore the Vice-President of Deutschen Naturschutzrings, Prof. Manfred Niekisch and Victoria Corpuz of the Tebtebba Foundation (Philippines) were among the participants. The panel dealt with the question of how to bridge the gap between indigenous knowledge and scientific systems as well as how local initiatives can both protect biodiversity and alleviate poverty in order to achieve the Millennium Development goals (MDGs).

Prof. Sachs underlined that development cooperation and the commitment of the industrialized countries should be emphasized if the MDGs are virtually to be reached. A breakthrough in reaching the MDG goals is needed up to next year in which a Five-Years-Inquiry will be conducted. Otherwise it would be difficult to reach the aim. Prof. Sachs also criticized the lack of engagement of the US government by the alleviation of poverty in Developing Countries.

Photo: The German Permanent Mission to the UN in New YorkDr. Mark Plotkin emphasized in his short speech the risk of loss of cultural diversity of the indigenous people in the rainforest of South America. He said that the destruction of the indigenous culture also puts the rainforest under threat. He quoted the Brazilian pilot program (PP-G7) on conservation of the rainforest in the indigenous reservation as good example. The PP-G7 is a project carried out by GTZ and the Worldbank in which about 450 million hectare of the rainforest were put under protection and set for sustainable use. The indigenous knowledge plays thereby a key role.

Victoria Corpuz of theTebtebba Foundation (Philippines) underlined the importance of the conservation of indigenous culture and knowledge. Prof. Dr. Manfred Niekisch (Vice-President of the Deutschen Naturschutzring) posed the question about the conservation of indigenous knowledge and the legal conditions of benefit sharing.

Within the final reception the attending winners of the Equator-Prize received their awards. Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP-Administrator and one of the initiator of the Equator-Initiative honoured the engagement of the winners. Dr. Detlev Wolter Counsellor at the German UN Mission to the UN responsible for Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development handed over the award to Dr. Vanaja Ramsprasad of the Indian Green Foundation, who works on the improvement of food supply by developing seeds. The Namibian Ambassador handed over the prize to Ezequiel Vitonás of Proyeto Nasa, Colombia. The distinguished project is about self-determination of the indigenous members of the Paez-population. The Colombian Ambassador Nicolas Rivas presented Benny Roman of the Torry Conservancy, Namibia with the award. The project links sustainable agriculture and the conservation of wildlife with the promotion of eco-tourism.


Speech of Gunter Pleuger, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Speech of Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator United Nations Development Programme

Invitation, press releases and Equator Initiative newsletter

Leaflet panel discussion 19 Mai 2004, 144 KB

Official press release, 161 KB

Presse release GTZ

Newsletter "Between the Lines" from Equator Initiative


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