Camila Oliveira on NBSAPs revision in Brazil

01 May 2014

Camila Oliveira is an environmental analyst in the Ministry of the Environment in Brazil and national manager of the project Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition. Here she describes the NBSAP revision process in Brazil.

Camila Oliveira

We started to revise our national Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in 2010, led by Dr Braulio Dias until he left to become executive secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity. We took a three-pronged approach.

Nationalising Aichi targets

We wanted our national targets to be at least as challenging as the global Aichi targets and we were aiming for something more. The Ministry of Environment, working with consultants, met with academics, local communities, indigenous communities, research institutes, private sector and local government to set the targets, which were also available for public consultation on the internet. The goal was to have a set of 20 national targets, a similar number to the Aichi targets.

At the same time as we were consulting, the Ministry of Planning arranged meetings with other ministries involved in environment issues to discuss the set of targets, agree with them or make suggestions for changes. The results of this exercise were sent to the Ministry of Environment and contributed to the process.

The 20 national targets were approved by the National Commission on Biodiversity (CONABIO) in September 2013, according to its Resolution n. 06.

Establishing an action plan

We used a problem tree methodology for this activity. We started discussions just among colleagues within the Ministry of Environment and federal agencies from the environmental sector, trying to establish the causes of biodiversity loss. We then linked these causes up where we could and ended up with three 'branches' of the tree with almost 200 causes of loss.

Then the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, together with the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Planning, invited 24 ministries and federal agencies to appoint representatives to analyse the problem tree, make changes, suggest inclusions and exclusions, even new wording. After the problem tree had been validated by this group, they began to indicate what action their ministry would take to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss. So we gave them time to work on this internally.

During the whole process, the Ministry of Environment together with the Ministry of Planning went back to each ministry, upon request, to discuss actions with them. We filled an excel spreadsheet with activities, targets, budgets (from institutions, or external or additional budget they would have to find) and possible new partnerships.

Our consultant is currently [November 2013] building a plan from this information and match up actions and causes with Aichi targets to see which actions will contribute to achieving the Aichi targets.

Constructing the legal basis for monitoring the achievement of the Aichi targets

Rather than setting up a new commission, the plan is to reformulate the Commission on Biodiversity which already exists. This commission will be active up until 2020 and is composed of government and civil society. Not all ministries agree with this approach so negotiations are ongoing.

I became involved in all this just as we started to invite other ministries to look at the problem tree in December 2012. The plan is to have the revised NBSAP ready at the beginning of 2014. The main challenge is establishing monitoring priorities – there are too many elements at the moment and we are being encouraged by the Ministry of Planning to cut back.

Connecting to Brazil’s development planning cycle

The current development cycle is 2012-15. We have multi-year budget planning, coordinated by the Ministry of Planning, involving all agencies and ministries of federal government working on thematic programmes. One of these programmes covers the biodiversity theme and all ministries interested in the subject participated in meetings, created actions and initiatives and drew up a budget.

You may want to know how this development planning links up with the NBSAPs process. When the various ministries and institutes were looking at causes of biodiversity loss on the problem tree and thinking about actions, they were already involved in activities related to the biodiversity theme of the multi-year plan. Rather than invent something new, they built on what they were already doing; they analysed gaps, identified new partnerships and new budgets. This really helped to achieve buy in for the NBSAP process – but it was also really helpful to have the Ministry of Planning working with us. Having the multi-year plan as a basis meant there were already targets and indicators to consider and made it easier when it came to making compromises.

It was also to our advantage to involve ministries in action and budget planning. The Ministry of Planning said that when ministries develop their new multi-year plan in 2015, this process should help them to focus on where future funding is needed. They could link to international projects and external funding.

Mainstreaming biodiversity and nutrition

The way the multi-year plan was done this time was innovative because we had a specific focus on mainstreaming biodiversity and nutrition.

My work is related to a global project on Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition (BFN) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and executed by Bioversity International, with implementation support from FAO and UNEP. It all started with discussions within the CBD that ended up establishing a cross-cutting initiative at COP8, although Brazil was active in discussions for years before COP8 – particularly Braulio Dias – and GEF decided to fund a project involving Brazil, Kenya, Turkey and Sri Lanka until 2017.

The objective of the project is to demonstrate the linkage between biodiversity and food and nutrition, so that people understand the nutritional value of biodiversity and have a greater interest in conserving it. There can be a huge difference in nutrition even within species – for instance there could be 1000 times difference in the vitamin A content of two varieties of banana.

Once we can show which kinds of native species are more nutritionally rich, they can be promoted. So one of the project's key activities is supporting composition analysis of different kinds of food and within food types.

One big challenge is that many programmes in Brazil have a relationship with the BFN project but don't integrate well. We need to integrate and learn from best practice and avoid duplication of effort. We need a policy framework and platforms for enhancing biodiversity conservation.

Nationally six ministries are involved in the project – environment, health, education, agriculture, agrarian development, social development and fight against hunger, as well as the National Supply Company linked to the Ministry of Agriculture.

This supply company is responsible for a food procurement programme which is one of the federal government's most important programmes. It buys produce from family farmers – we say that it creates an institutional market to help those in food insecure situations. The company buys food and sends it to social entities and schools. There is also a programme of minimum price guarantee which defines prices of native species. If producers have to sell at a lower price, the government will compensate to the level of that price.

So BFN has mainstreamed biodiversity into nutrition. The minimum price guarantee for native species provides an incentive to produce these species. Plus the project provides nutritional information for farmers and consumers.

Looking to the future

We plan to support a network of regional nutrition databanks. We want to support nutritionists to do value analysis. We also want school nutritionists to be better informed about the nutritional value of biodiverse food so that they can put it on their menus.

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