A six-month project in biodiversity conservation piloted in Senegal and three other countries — Brazil, Canada and Spain — is expected to help boost biodiversity conservation through exchanging experiences and best practices online.

The Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform (RBLP) project, is an initiative of the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4sd).

Rodrigo Messias, a policy officer at the nrg4sd responsible for the project, says the learning platform is now open for any region to join, adding that participation in the project attracts no membership fee but willingness and commitment to share and contribute actively.

"We will also create a website and a database for the regions participating in the project. Besides information about policies, laws, and actions taken, participants will also have access to online forums to continue the discussions held during the online meetings," he explains.

The project is currently financed by the nrg4sd, and Messias says that the nrg4sd intends to provide a robust structure and continue its expansion.

The first phase ended in November 2016, and will be scaled up following the 13th UN meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity ('COP13) held in Mexico from 4-7 December. Governments party to the convention and delegations from the private sector gathered to discuss the integration of biodiversity into policies relevant to agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism.

The pilot phase offered knowledge about innovative actions and challenges faced by other governments - natural resource degradation, lack of human resources, and limited financial resources. We are learning about innovative actions that we can use to restore and conserve our resources through training and funding research through partnerships. Mamadou Ndong Toure, Gossas Council Department

The initiative seeks to support countries to implement their subnational biodiversity action plans to safeguard nature protection.

Mamadou Ndong Toure, a geographer and project manager for the Gossas Council Department in Senegal, which is involved in the project, says the main objective is to exchange experiences and best practices in conformity with the national biodiversity strategy action plans. The Senegalese project will expand to other countries in West Africa to enable the region properly develop biodiversity conservation.

He states that the pilot phase offered knowledge about innovative actions and challenges faced by other governments. The challenges include natural resources degradation, lack of human resources, and limited financial resources. The innovative actions are restoration or conservation, training, and funding research through partnership.

"The benefits of this project for West Africa will be the possibility to share experiences and best practices and to become members of a dynamic network working on actual thematic areas like biodiversity and climate change," Toure adds.

Activities implemented during the pilot phase included the creation of nature reserves, and the establishment of informative monitoring system in the field of climate change, he adds.

Arinze Okoli, a scientist at Centre for Biosafety, a non-commercial foundation in Norway, says the project could help countries in West Africa create strategies to achieve biodiversity conservation.

Okoli adds that the project will build the capacity of scientists on issues of biodiversity conservation discussed at international conferences to help them make meaningful contributions.

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.

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