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The Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (AMASA-15) was held on 12-16 November 2019 in Accra, Ghana. The event brought together over 100 representatives of Africa’s science academies as well as representatives from governments, universities, research institutes, farmers associations, agricultural board, and development partners, among others.   One of the key discussion topics for the event was how to ensure food security for Africa’s growing population in the face of climate change, structural changes in land use and management, and intensification of agriculture, including the use of pesticides. Maintaining the biodiversity that supports ecosystem services such as pollination and natural pest control is critical to the sustainability of African agriculture, to ensure food security and its contribution to African economies and to support rural communities.   A new study, “Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Use and Effects in African Agriculture. A Review and Recommendations to Policymakers” was launched during the meeting. Developed though the collaboration of Inter-Academy Partnership (IAP) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), the study examines the implications of neonicotinoid insecticide use for ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture in Africa. It calls for a timely and decisive action to prevent deterioration in the sustainability of African agriculture and African biodiversity through regulatory measures, extension services, alternative practices.    During a panel discussion, Prof. Peter Kofi Kwapong from the University of Cape Cost, Ghana, shared the highlights of the BES-Net’s Anglophone Africa Regional Trialogue, which was held in May 2018, in Nairobi, Kenya. He presented the key messages of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) thematic assessments on pollinators and land degradation, and emphasized the importance of promoting pollinator-friendly farming and sustainable land management policies and practices, as highlighted in the Trialogue Action Document.   
Date: 31 January 2020
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Dr. Nina Hobbhahn, EASAC Secretariat
Bees and honey combs
After the BES-Net Caribbean Regional Trialogue on Pollinators, Food Security and Climate Resilience and subsequent national dialogue in 2018, awareness and interest in pollinators and pollination issues has increased significantly in Antigua and Barbuda, notably the protection of local pollinator species from various threats. For example, ongoing media campaigns encourage the general public to contact   members of the Antigua Beekeeping Cooperative on pollinator issues, such as removal of swarms and bees in residences and commercial spaces, where rampant land clearing is observed, cutting of trees and use of chemicals and pesticides. Recently with the outbreak of mosquito infestation and cases of dengue fever on the rise, malathion has been used in the fogging exercises, but this has been harmful to the bees. Honey is a major commodity in Antigua and Barbuda. At present, due to the difficulty to meet the local honey consumer demands, the country depends highly on honey and honey products import estimated at 35,329 kg in 2017, valued at ec$244,106/US$91,084.32. Thanks to the ongoing awareness raising campaign, the Antigua Beekeeping Cooperative is receiving growing number of beekeeping training requests, as an opportunity to generate new income particularly for the youth. The main objective of the training is to split strong vibrant colonies of bees and raise new queens.  Ms. Ruth Spencer, National Coordinator of GEF/SGP and a participant of the Caribbean Regional Trialogue, is working to build a coalition with the Antigua Beekeeping Cooperative and the Ministry of Agriculture to support the training, including the promotion of south-south cooperation by engaging the experts from neighboring island countries. The vision of the cooperative is to increase the local production of honey and honey products (e.g. food items and cosmetics) and therefore, reduce import by 50 per cent in the next few years. This work is expected to contribute to the ongoing recovery effort in Barbuda severely hit by Hurricane Irma in 2018.  Building on the Trialogue experience, Ms. Spencer has also been playing a pivotal role in linking the concerned local farmers, community groups and citizen scientists to government technicians and researchers to create an environment where knowledge on pollinators/pollination are better communicated and decisions and actions undertaken in more informed and collaborative manner.    
Date: 28 January 2020
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Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) in Antigua
The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) awarded EUR 20 million to support Phase II of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net) initiative for the period 2020-2028.  The award will allow the BES-Net consortium partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to build on the achievement of, and continue the proven practices of, Phase I.  As a capacity sharing ‘network of networks’, BES-Net has been dedicated to the promotion of dialogue and cooperation between science, policy and practice for effective biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES) management since 2016, with the objective of contributing to long-term human well-being and sustainable development. Leveraging from the experiences of Phase I, BES-Net Phase II will aim at formalizing the scientists-policymakers-practitioners partnership and strengthening synergy and complementarity in their BES-related decisions, actions and subsequent impacts in the target countries.  BES-Net Phase II will be implemented in alignment with the IPBES Work Programme and contribute particularly to the platform’s Capacity-Building Rolling Plan. The initiative will support evidence-based policymaking, strategic planning and the implementation of transformative solutions for BES protection in 18 countries. It will also upscale methodologies and approaches tested under BES-Net Phase I, by extending the National Ecosystem Assessment support in four new countries and facilitating triangular dialogues in 40 countries around the new BES thematic assessments to be produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).   “It is very timely to transform BES-Net from Phase I to more action-oriented Phase II in 2020, as we are going into a ‘biodiversity super year’”, said Anne Juepner, Director of the UNDP Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification and Manager of the BES-Net initiative. “Nature is increasingly seen as one of the most effective ways to tackle a myriad of socio-environmental challenges and achieving sustainable development goals. In close partnership with UNEP-WCMC and UNESCO, we will support the countries to ensure that their effort towards nature-based solutions and commitment in implementing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework is underpinned by the best scientific evidence and the wealth of indigenous and local knowledge.”   
Date: 20 December 2019
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The introduction and establishment of invasive aquatic species is considered to be one of the greatest threats to the world’s freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. In addition, the global economic impacts of invasive species, including through disruption to fisheries, biofouling of coastal industry, infrastructure and interference with human amenity, have been estimated at several hundred million dollars per year. The main vectors for unintentional transfer of non-indigenous species are ships' ballast water, biofouling of mobile marine structures, and aquaculture.   The GloFouling Partnerships project - a collaboration between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), was launched in December 2018. Its main goals are: to raise awareness of how to protect marine biodiversity from the introduction of non-indigenous species into new ecosystems through biofouling; and to provide capacity building activities to the participating countries. Biofouling is the process by which marine organisms can build up on ships' hulls and the surface of other marine structures.   Since the launch of the project twenty-five Member States expressed their interest to take part, out of which twelve countries were selected as Lead Partnering Countries (LPCs) and the remaining thirteen will participate in the project as Partnering Countries (PCs) at the regional level. In the first year of the project nine LPCs (Brazil, Fiji, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines and Tonga) have hosted their first National Workshops and as a result established their National Task Forces (NTFs). In early 2020 the remaining three LPCs (Ecuador, Peru and Sri Lanka) will host their first meetings. Each LPC’s National Task Force will define a national policy on biofouling and invasive aquatic species, and will draft the national strategy and action plan to implement the IMO Biofouling Guidelines.   For a broader approach GloFouling Partnerships is working with seven regions (South America, South Asia, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Pacific, Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Wider Caribbean). This approach will help to deliver outputs more broadly within target regions and to deliver sustainable biofouling management measures beyond the life of the GloFouling Partnerships project.   Simultaneously other activities are being and will be implemented throughout the duration of the project, these include: A creation of a knowledge hub, which holds a pool of research documents, regulations and other information on biofouling; Organization of Research and Development (R&D) Forums on biofouling management and invasive aquatic species. The purpose of these international conferences is to bring together regulatory bodies, maritime industries, academia, leading scientific experts and technology development leaders in the field of biofouling management for a comprehensive overview; GloFouling Partnerships will establish and work closely with a Global Industry Alliance (GIA). Members of GIA will support improved biofouling management and marine biosafety initiatives via collectively identifying and developing innovative solutions; In addition to many other activities that are planned to be carried out, the project will also develop promotional material such as animations and leaflets to raise awareness on biofouling and invasive aquatic species.  
Date: 30 November 2019
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The Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, or Promote Pollinators, delivered a statement at the ongoing (25-29 November 2019) Plenary of the 23rd Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA23) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, urging member countries to adopt the protection of pollinators as one of the goals within the Post 2020 CBD framework. “We need to recognize and acknowledge pollination as a key element in the conservation of biological diversity”, stressed Martijn Thijssen, the Secretary of Promote Pollinators in his statement.  Expressing the Coalition’s willingness to support the group, he emphasized that the creation of a pollinator/pollination related target in the post 2020 CBD framework will bring us one step closer to the ultimate goal of giving pollinators and pollination the protection they deserve. Promote Pollinators was established during the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CBD (COP13) in 2016 in order to place the protection of animal pollinator species on the World’s political agenda. Following on the recommendations from Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, Promote Pollinators is committed to take action to protect pollinators and their habitats by developing and implementing national pollinator strategies, with members mutually supporting each other, sharing experiences and lessons learned and promoting research on pollinator conservation. The coalition currently includes some 30 participating countries, as well as non-state members such as the European Union and BES-Net. As a way forward, Promote Pollinators recommended the creation of an ad-hoc open-ended working group to propose a specific target and indicators for pollinators and pollination. For the full statement please click here.  
Date: 28 November 2019
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Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators
Although Vietnam has hundreds of policies and regulations related to biodiversity conservation, it still lacks a comprehensive methodology and capacity for ecosystem assessment in the context of science-policy-practice interface. Under the framework of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net), an effort is currently ongoing to undertake the national ecosystem assessment (NEA) in Vietnam. NEA is a tool to support decision-making on ecosystem management planning, investments in ecosystem protection and development, as well as ecosystem service prioritization.     The initiative is by the Center for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), in collaboration with the Institute of Strategy and Policy for Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE)/ Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). In addition to the delivery of Vietnam’s first NEA, the initiative also provides an opportunity to establish/strengthen stakeholders’ partnerships to improve the science-policy-practice interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Information and experiences compiled in Vietnam will be shared with seven other countries (i.e. Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ethiopia, Grenada and Vietnam) undertaking NEA through BES-Net and beyond.     The Vietnam NEA team, including representatives from relevant government and non-government organisations (NGOs), is currently refining the NEA Report and the associated Summary for Policy Makers (SPM). A consultation workshop is convened by CBC and ISPONRE/MONRE in collaboration with WWF Vietnam at this important juncture to make the NEA Report fully responsive to key policy windows and inclusive of different knowledge types.     The workshop will bring together about 80 participants from different ministries, institutes, universities, international and local NGOs and representatives from the provinces to review the contents of the draft NEA and explore mechanisms to strengthen collaboration between the three communities of science-policy-practice. The workshop is supported financially by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and WWF.  
Date: 25 November 2019
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