XIEG held an informal meeting for BCAA
On February 21, 2023, an informal meeting for the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance for Arid Lands (BCAA), was held at the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The meeting aims to enhance mutual understanding among the founding members of BCAA and build consensus on strengthening international cooperation in the field of biodiversity conservation in arid lands.
The meeting reviewed the history of BCAA, and discussed specific issues about BCAA, such as the priority areas, the work plan, and the membership categories and fees, and so on.
Professor Keping Ma, from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, suggested that BCAA should develop an action plan, priority areas and annual work in 2023 under the background of "Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework". He added that the membership could be expanded to welcome scientific institutions and individuals beyond the arid areas.
Roman Jashenko, Director of Institute of Zoology, Republic of Kazakhstan, emphasized that as an international organization, BCAA should have its own strategy and work plan. He suggested that it’s necessary to set up an expert group to work out the BCAA’s charter, action plan and future strategy.
Program Coordinator Dr. Shaoliang Yi from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) suggested that Southeast Asian organizations be considered for BCAA membership and that the alliance’s vision and mission need to be further refined. Dr. Sunita Chaudhary, Ecosystem services specialist of ICIMOD, stated that the BCAA must be very strategic in admitting new members, such as by having government agencies of various nations on board, and that the BCAA needs to emphasize increased cooperation with other international organizations engaged in regional and global biodiversity work.
Tim Hirsch, Deputy Director of GBIF Secretariat, pointed out that it’s more appropriate for some international organizations, like GBIF, to be an advisory capacity or an observer organization, instead of an official member. Therefore, more roles can be set in the BCAA Charter to have more organizations participate in future activities.
Alice Hughes, Associate Professor of Hong Kong University, suggested that more webinars should be organized to fill the data gaps, knowledge gaps and skill gaps, provide the blueprint of the work that’s been done, and find synergies between countries in the arid region which face the same threats in biodiversity conservation.
Wang Yuyi, Deputy Division Director from the Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China (FECO, MEE), put forward that at this stage, BCAA should have more exposure to international community. “To achieve this, we can design a series of BCAA conferences/activities, print promotional materials, organize people-to-people exchanges and visits to let more research institutions, international organizations, NGOs, Foundations, and some relevant enterprises understand and participate in BCAA,” she said.
Zhang Yuanming, director of Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, stressed the importance of the BCAA for propelling and implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and global sustainable development. Zhang noted that much work needs to be done for the BCAA’s development, and that the host institute of BCAA needs to develop the second version of the BCAA Charter as prompt as possible, formulate an action plan and designate priority areas for further discussion in the panel of international scientists.
This was the first meeting since the official launch of the BCAA on December 11, 2022, at the CBD COP15. Those present at the meeting included representatives from the 11 founding member organizations and five international scientists. The meeting consolidated consensus and boosted mutual trust. Participants unanimously agreed that establishing the BCAA is necessary for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in arid lands, and pledged commitment to and support for future BCAA-based cooperation in biodiversity conservation in arid lands.