Biodiversity: Essential factor for human well-being

01.12.2016 – The 13th UN Biodiversity Conference is taking place from 4 to 17 December in Cancún, Mexico.

Conservation of biodiversity is essential to the lives and well-being of people. That is the theme of the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity starting on Sunday in Mexico. This convention is the most important binding international agreement for protecting biodiversity. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been working on biodiversity-related topics for more than 30 years and is implementing over 100 projects on behalf of the German Federal Government.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and together with the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) GIZ is helping to better protect the ten million hectare tropical rain forest Selva Maya in the border region between Belize, Guatemala and south-east Mexico, for example. The unique species diversity is threatened by illegal logging, petroleum extraction and trade of flora and fauna. One of the project aims is therefore to create income alternatives for the rural population. For example, the ramón nut, which was once one of the Mayan’s most important crops, was identified as a product with great potential. GIZ is supporting local groups in the efficient marketing of individual Maya nut products like flour, baked goods and drinks, among other things. In addition, the production of honey, cocoa and rubber from the rain forest also brings new prospects for the local population. This is generating sustainable income for around 600 families along the respective value chains.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) GIZ is also supporting the Mexican Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) in identifying and providing information on the benefits of natural protected areas, both for the well-being of the people and economic development. The project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). One of the five pilot areas is the Mariposa Monarca (monarch butterfly) biosphere reserve; each autumn millions of butterflies fly from Canada and the USA to spend the winter there. This natural phenomenon attracts more than 200,000 tourists per year and is an important source of income for the region in the winter. According to the reserve administration, the surrounding villages depend on the economic activities relating to monarch butterflies for over 50% of their income. As the butterfly population has been declining over several years, the ecotourism options are being further developed.