Through its various capacity development activities, CEBioS aims to improve the capacities of individuals and institutions engaged in biodiversity study, management, conservation and use in partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation so that they can achieve their own local and/or national objectives in a sustainable manner and fully commit to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as other biodiversity-related conventions.
Being an internationally recognized centre of scientific expertise in the field of biodiversity/ecosystem research and monitoring, RBINS – and thus also CEBioS – has accumulated valuable know-how that can benefit countries in great need of such knowledge and skills. Via the CEBioS programme, this expertise, as well as that of associated Belgian institutions, is made accessible to individuals and institutions of developing countries in a demand-driven way, contributing to the achievement of Target xx of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework of the CBD.
The CEBioS activities aimed at strengthening the scientific (and technical) knowledge base on biodiversity are mainly centred around the following themes:
Through its mandate as Belgian National Focal Point to the CBD and the CHM, RBINS-CEBioS has acquired over the years valuable experience in mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into policy sectors, contributing to Target xx of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
At the national level, the RBINS-CEBioS staff actively participate in the following platforms:
- The Steering Committee 'Biodiversity Convention' and the Steering Committee 'Nature' operating under the authority of the Coordinating Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP);
- Belgian Biodiversity Platform;
- DGD and FPS Environment;
- KLIMSEC, FIABEL, Educaid, SECORES - thematic Joint Strategic Framework on Ecosystem Resilience (Bos+ - Uni4Coop - Via Don Bosco - Join For Water - WWF - CEBioS), ...
At the international level, RBINS-CEBioS staff actively participate in:
- CBD meetings such as WGRI, SBSTTA, SBI and COP;
- European WPIEI;
- EU DG International Partnerships (INTPA) and various European working groups;
- Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES);
- African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (ACARE);
- Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP);
- Various expert groups (e.g., OECD DAC ENVIRONET, SDSN).
RBINS-CEBioS puts this expertise at the service of the Belgian Development Cooperation and other interested parties in Belgium and abroad - through workshops or consulting in an ad hoc and demand-driven manner - to strengthen the dialogue and develop strong partnerships between scientists, decision-makers and society.
Taxonomic research (Global Taxonomy Initiative)
Taxonomy is the science of describing, naming and classifying the world’s organisms based on morphological, behavioral, genetic and biochemical observations, amongst others. Through this process taxonomists have gained far-reaching insights into the past and present components of biological diversity. Unfortunately, taxonomic knowledge is far from complete while biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. If we do not know what is there, it is impossible to know what we are losing, let alone protect something we do not have a name for/cannot identify.
These gaps in our taxonomic systems and knowledge – together with the shortage of trained taxonomists and curators, the unequal access to taxonomic information and collections, and the unequal availability of taxonomic infrastructure – are referred to as the 'taxonomic impediment', which hinders the implementation of the CBD, especially in megadiverse developing countries.
Therefore, in order to resolve this taxonomic impediment and to enable Parties to better understand, manage and safeguard their own biodiversity, the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI) was established under the CBD in 1998. Since 2001, RBINS-CEBioS houses the Belgian National Focal Point (NFP) to this GTI.
In this context, the activities of the Belgian GTI NFP/CEBioS are aimed at:
- Strengthening the taxonomic and curatorial capacities of partner countries of the Belgian Development Cooperation by providing training in taxonomy and collection management (in Belgium or locally), and publishing dedicated manuals (e.g., AbcTaxa);
Mr. Ndayikeza (left) and Mr. Lagnika (together with Dr. Martin, right) during their GTI internship at RBINS, studying pollinator insects (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) and annelid worms (Oligochaeta), respectively
Ms. Olodo (left) and Mr. Taedoumg (right) during their GTI internship at the Botanic Garden of Meise, studying diatoms and plants of the Craterispermum genus, respectively
Dr. De Kesel in Benin (left) and Dr. Pauly in Tanzania (right), giving a training course on edible mushrooms and pollinators, respectively
Dr. Dekoninck in Ivory Coast (left) and Mr. Constant & Bresseel in Vietnam (right), both giving a training on entomofauna
- Improving access of researchers from developing countries to scientific literature, databases and collections (held in Belgium or elsewhere) to expand their knowledge on the components of their national biodiversity;
Mr. Sinzinkayo visiting the insect collections (Diptera: Syrphidae) in Belgium (RMCA & RBINS)
- Raising awareness among concerned stakeholders, including local populations and policy makers, on the importance of and the measures required for the monitoring and conservation of their national/local biodiversity.
Mr. Koudenoukpo informing local students during his GTI awareness-raising campaign entitled 'Sensibilisation des populations riveraines de la rivière Sô et du fleuve Ouémé sur la biodiversité des mollusques gastéropodes dulcicoles du Bénin, services écosystémiques et approches de conservation pour une exploitation durable' (left); Mr. Milenge Kamalebo addressing local media on his awareness-raising campaign entitled ' Sensibilisation et partage d’information sur les usages et l’importance des champignons sauvages en province de la Tshopo (R.D. Congo)' (right)
Most of these activities are linked to calls for project proposals. Grant seekers can access specific information about the calls here.
More details about the Belgian GTI and its past and present activities can be found on the dedicated website of the GTI NFP.
Closely linked to the discovery and description of species (taxonomic research) is the monitoring of this biodiversity in different ecosystems/habitats, which is the focus of the 'LEM Habitats' (Law Enforcement Monitoring) or habitat monitoring component of the CEBioS program.
Capacity development on habitat monitoring within tropical ecosystems, especially protected areas (PAs), is mainly aimed at strengthening the capacities of CEBioS’ partners in the management of rainforests, Zambezian savannas and forests as well as biosphere reserves of the Sudanese and Sahelian zones, which are among the ecosystems most relevant to the Belgian Development Cooperation as they are:
- critical habitats for local biodiversity;
- essential for the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services that are important for local human well-being and development (food, medicines, fuel, climate change mitigation, ...) as well as global ecological stakes (such as carbon sequestration).
Accordingly, habitat monitoring and its contribution to reporting on the status of ecosystems are crucial for:
- informing decision-making processes, developing plans/strategies, supporting actions, and tracking progress on the protection of biodiversity, in the context of countries’ national and international commitments (e.g., under the CBD);
- assessing the availability of services provided by nature and its potential impact on poverty (healthy ecosystems and well-managed PAs can contribute to sustainable local livelihoods by providing populations with high-quality resources and generating a stable income, including through (eco)tourism).
LEM Habitat activities, aimed at improving biodiversity management and valuation of ecosystem services of PAs, are carried out in cooperation with three long-standing partner institutions in three different countries:
- Institut Congolais de la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in DR Congo
- Office Burundais pour la Protection de l'Environnement (OBPE) in Burundi
- Université d'Abomey-Calavi (UAC) in Benin
The impetus for these partnerships on habitat monitoring dates back to the implementation of the 2nd phase of the SYGIAP project (Système de Gestion de l’Information sur les Aires protégées) in the DR Congo (2005-2006), a UNESCO/WHC program dedicated to the endangered PAs in the country.
The LEM Habitat activities generally consist of collecting standardized data on the dynamics of vegetation and integrating them into databases that can be used to analyze the interrelationships between the various environmental components of PAs.
The skills required to accomplish this work are derived from the following two groups of activities, organized by RBINS-CEBioS in collaboration with several other Belgian research institutes (UCL, ULg/Gembloux, ULB, Meise Botanic Garden):
- Technical support:
- Training and follow-up of park rangers/eco-guards and other stakeholders, including scientists, involved in the monitoring and surveillance of habitats and the campaigns to collect and analyze data on habitat types and dynamics
- Provision of basic equipment
- Supply of didactic material: standard LEM files (serving to collect data on habitat dynamics), syllabi that are regularly updated, and a series of manuals or Lexicons on habitat types and their dynamics which are produced in a participative way; the Lexicons, issued since 2011, can be consulted here.
- Promotion of research, focused on (i) the consolidation of scientific knowledge on vegetation dynamics and ecosystem status and (ii) the valuation of ecosystem services, especially in synergy with universities from the African Great Lakes region (Université de Goma, Université Officielle de Bukavu, …):
- Contributions to the identification of research topics
- Guidance on conducting and publishing scientific studies
- Support for master and PhD theses, including preparation of scientific publications
- Assistance with the implementation of recommendations issued by research
- Support for the establishment of regional networks of expertise, for example the 'Réseau des Mycologues de la région des Grands Lacs africains'
Remote-sensing and marine modelling
The strengthening of capacities in the field of remote-sensing and marine modelling is among the more recent activities of the CEBioS programme. It builds upon the Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) strategy and the development of biodiversity indicators, and is closely linked to CEBioS’ habitat monitoring activities.
In this context, CEBioS is working with institutional partners in Benin and Vietnam to reinforce their technical skills related to remote-sensing, modelling and ecosystem monitoring. Training sessions, remote technical assistance and synergies are set up to address the need for specific techniques that can support the preservation of their biodiversity and ecosystem health. Those tools further aim to contribute to the development of biodiversity indicators that can be used to measure progress towards the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the objectives of national biodiversity strategies.
CEBioS also provides support on several other topics:
- Project writing
- Database management
Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) - IT Tools
Following its adoption at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and in accordance with its Article 18 on Technical and Scientific Cooperation, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) established the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) to ensure that all governments have access to the information and technologies they need for their work on biodiversity.
This information exchange platform has evolved into a global network of national CHM nodes/websites with the following mission:
"To contribute significantly to the implementation of the CBD, through effective information services and other appropriate means, in order to promote and facilitate scientific and technical cooperation, knowledge sharing, and information exchange, and to establish a fully operational network of Parties and partners".
The CHM network proved to be particularly important in making progress toward the achievement of Aichi Target 19 of the 'Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020', the overarching implementation framework of the CBD until 2020. Within the current 'Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework', the CHM is key to advancing toward Target xx.
In this context, the Belgian National Focal Point (NFP) to the CHM – through its partnering role for the CHM in the framework of the CEBioS program – helps countries to improve their access to information and furnishes means to relay these efficiently at national level, among others through the Internet. The Belgian CHM NFP also contributes to the exchange of scientific and technical expertise.
Since 1999, the Belgian CHM partnership has helped several developing countries establish and maintain their national CHM websites. These websites used to run under a Content Management System (CMS) called the 'European Community CHM Portal Toolkit' (PTK); from 2006 to 2018, partner CHMs were trained in the use of this PTK. Moreover, the PTK-based websites of 28 countries were hosted on the Belgian CHM server for several years ('CHM network of Belgian partner countries').
Since 2017, in collaboration with Belgium and the CHM-Informal Advisory Committee (IAC), the CBD Secretariat has been developing a new CMS called 'Bioland'. The objective is to have all national CHM websites running under Bioland and hosted on the CBD server to facilitate interoperability and collaboration between all CBD parties. Therefore, as of 2019, the Belgian CHM NFP offers training courses to countries participating in the Belgian CHM partner network to make the transition from PTK-based sites hosted on the Belgian CHM server to websites running under the new Bioland tool on the CBD server.
In practice, the Belgian CHM Focal Point
- offers training courses in the development and maintenance of websites;
- helps to stimulate networking and the exchange of experiences through the organisation of workshops;
- organizes annual calls for projects for the reinforcement of CHM websites;
- organizes annual calls for projects for activities in the field of communication, education and public awareness.
Measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of policy choices and activities linked to biodiversity and ecosystem services
There is an increasing need for monitoring schemes that help understand the evolution of the global biodiversity crisis and propose solutions for the future. In order to monitor and report on the state of biodiversity and propose appropriate solutions, a strong link must be established between
- the scientific data collected and
- the formulation of biodiversity policies.
Biodiversity indicators are key tools to
- measure the change in biodiversity over time,
- evaluate progress towards its conservation and sustainable use,
- set conservation priorities,
- design and monitor national and regional policies on biodiversity,
- feed into national reporting on international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The MRV approach developed by CEBioS aims at promoting links between the worlds of science and policy in order to develop such biodiversity indicators in CEBioS partner countries. This goes hand in hand with the collection of data to establish these indicators.
As summarized in the figure below, the MRV approach offers a methodology to
- valorize scientific data,
- translate them into quantified biodiversity indicators and trends that can be communicated to decision-makers,
- build on these trends to put in place appropriate management measures and policies.
MRV projects and activities are generally linked to calls for projects. Grant seekers can access specific information about the calls here.
Presentation about MRV approach
Video explaining this presentation
Poster about MRV
Scientific paper: 'Developing policy-relevant biodiversity indicators: lessons learnt from case studies in Africa'
Scientific paper: 'Joining science and policy in capacity development for monitoring progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in the global South'
Still to be revised!!
Awareness and communication are key to realise knowledge and technology transfers for capacity building and in the science-policy-development interface and they are an integral part of all SOs. Both topics are prominently present in the COP conferences under the CEPA fairs side events, being responses to meet the Aichi target 1.
Link awareness calls (including baseline studies, indicator development & measuring people's (change in) perception.... CHM/GTI/MRV)
Punctual workshops (e.g., for GTI and other CEBioS alumni) & summer schools; training on awareness; science communication
Production and dissemination of brochures, policy briefs, posters, etc.
Activities in context of CBD/COP
Increasing awareness in North (CEBioS) and South for the partners of the Belgian Development Cooperation, civil society