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National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans: Natural Catalysts for Accelerating Action on Sustainable Development Goals

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In 2010, the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to an ambitious set of 20 targets, called the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABT). Target 17 called for each country to revise its National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP) accordingly. Virtually all countries have revised, or are currently completing the revision of, their NBSAP. At the same time, in 2015, the world agreed to an ambitious set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The absence of a widely accepted taxonomy for describing NBSAP actions makes any systematic and cross-cutting analysis of NBSAPs difficult. Moreover, the collective contribution of specific NBSAP actions to SDGs has not yet been studied.

The purpose of this analysis is to systematically understand the breadth and depth of actions proposed across all NBSAPs, to propose a common framework for analysis, and to understand the relationship between NBSAPs and the SDGs. The unit of analysis in this study is an action – a statement regarding a country’s intention to undertake a specific act or set of activities. Actions typically include two parts: a thematic category (e.g., restoration, protection, sustainable use) and a generic action statement (e.g., develop a plan, conduct research, strengthen governance).

Based on this analysis, the collective impact of the contribution of NBSAPs toward fulfilling the SDGs is beginning to emerge. The NBSAP examples of actions provided under each of the categories illustrate how a single action can contribute to multiple goals. The actions included across all NBSAPs would, if fully implemented, catalyze progress in national food security, water security, livelihoods, economic growth, disaster risk reduction, health, gender and climate resilience, among other goals. Furthermore, because NBSAPs are adopted as policy instruments, they provide a ready pathway for fast implementation of national sustainable development goals.

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