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Biodiversity Mainstreaming – If It Doesn’t Fit, Get A Bigger Hammer

The purpose of biodiversity mainstreaming is to have biodiversity principles included at every stage of the planning of projects by businesses and governments. The idea is to incorporate biodiversity considerations into all human activities.

There are currently biodiversity mainstreaming projects going on in many parts of the world, which are focused on increasing involvement in implementing biodiversity principles in an effort to preserve the remaining natural resources.

Part of biodiversity mainstreaming involves working with all sectors of a government in order to have them be aware of biodiversity issues, and make sure that biodiversity issues are not overlooked in the resolution of the problems each sector deals with. Agencies concerned with agriculture, public health, science and technology, the environment, and forests, fisheries and water resources are often the first agencies that biodiversity reformers and conservationists turn to during the planning of civic projects, with other sectors, such as transportation, energy, and mining being brought aboard as the project develops. As you can imagine, getting consensus from all these groups is not an easy task.

Another part of biodiversity mainstreaming is making the concept appealing to the very people who feel threatened by the concept of biodiversity. Lumber or coal workers, for example, are two groups that historically are against those they call “tree-huggers” because of a perceived threat to their livelihoods. Getting these and other groups to see the benefits of conserving the biodiversity of a region is often difficult.

In Brazil, for example, conservation of biodiversity will require significant efforts from both the public and private sectors. There are many barriers to biodiversity mainstreaming because of a lack of information and priority among key parties. Other barriers include unsustainable development initiatives and poor coordination between public and private participants. Brazil’s huge geographical size and ecological differences, and a generally low public awareness of the issues seriously compound the difficulties.

In Africa, on the other hand, innovative thinking along with the formation of cooperative partnerships between industry local governments has helped achieve early successes in mainstreaming biodiversity concerns. Efforts to remove barriers to biodiversity mainstreaming consisted of building institutional and policy-level capabilities and partnerships, identifying and fixing market failures, and showing that different practices in all production sectors will contribute greatly to biodiversity management and preservation.

Biodiversity mainstreaming is very important, but implementing it is a very delicate and time-consuming process. If, however, the major players in governments and businesses do not begin to accept it, as they have done in Africa, the consequences for everyone will be an increasingly less habitable world.

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