In a recently published report the IUCN has identified some critical issues that hampers implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Europe’s overseas territories. The richness and value of their biological diversity, and the constitutional and institutional peculiarities of the overseas entities of the European Union, made the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) decide to conduct an in-depth review of the status of implementation of the CBD and of specific strategies and plans as part of CBD-determined National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) at national levels. The CBD is a global treaty signed by 193 State Parties including the EU Member States.
There are 30 overseas entities that are linked to the European Union (EU). Six EU Member States, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom still have (some) legal control over these geographical areas (see list below). These areas spread across all oceans and are home to a unique biological diversity and ecosystems. Therefore, these European ORs and OCTs are of crucial importance for biodiversity at a global scale. They are located in biodiversity hotspots, such as the Caribbean Islands, Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands, New Caledonia and Polynesia-Micronesia. They represent major wilderness areas in the Guyana Shield, and polar ecosystems and fish stocks in Greenland, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF) and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. Together, they host more than 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs and lagoons, and a lot more species than mainland EU. For example, New Caledonia alone has about as many endemic species as the entire European continent, French Guiana includes an area of Amazon rainforest the size of Portugal, and the Chagos archipelago in the BIOT is home to the largest coral atoll in the world.
The purpose of the study was to identify the current status of the implementation of the CBD including existing strategies and action plans in the EU overseas entities, and if there are lessons to be learned with regard to best practices and impediments that are identified. To name a few criticial issues that were identified:
As national policies and plans are not always translated at local level or the competency is delegated, there is frequent absence of biodiversity policy and planning instruments, which means that biodiversity considerations and objectives are not mainstreamed in local development processes.
This is reinforced when there is insufficient investment by the responsible EU Member State to support the development and implementation of biodiversity action plans and equivalent.
Because of their peculiar status, the OCTs are not eligible for the same kind of technical and financial support as their geographic neighbours, even when their needs and conditions are very similar. This represents one of the main practical obstacles to genuine and effective cooperation between EU overseas entities and independent countries within their respective regions.
Nevertheless, the overseas entities have been able to make remarkable progress towards the achievement of the goals and targets of the CBD Programme of work on Island Biodiversity, and their achievements need to be better recognized and their efforts more effectively supported.
One of the report’s recommendations is that the European Commission should consider the establishment of an integrated policy framework for EU overseas entities and play a central role in ensuring the relevance and coherence between EU biodiversity and ecosystems policies and the CBD’s post-2010 revised and updated strategic plan.
(Source: website IUCN, 13.07.2011)
List of Europe’s overseas territories
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)1:
|- Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory (BAT)|
|- British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)|
|- British Virgin Islands (BVI)|
|- Cayman Islands|
|- Falkland Islands (Malvinas)|
|- French Polynesia|
|- French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF)|
|- former Netherlands Antilles|
|- New Caledonia|
|- Saint Helena|
|- Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island|
|- Saint Pierre and Miquelon|
|- South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands|
|- Turks and Caicos Islands|
|- Wallis and Futuna|
Outermost Regions (ORs)1:
|— the Azores|
|- the Canary Islands|
|- French Guiana|
|- Reunion Island|
|- Saint Barthélémy2|
|- Saint Martin2|
1 OCTs refer to those entities which are not part of, but are associated with, the EU under Part IV of the Treaty of the European Union, distinct from Ors which are an integral part of the European Union under the Treaty of the European Union.
2 that were formerly part of Guadeloupe and have recently acquired a separate status.