Taxonomy is a tool of fundamental importance to meeting the whole
spectrum of humankind's daily needs: production of food, fuel and fibre,
maintenance of human, plant and animal health, and in general assuring a
safe and sustainable environment to live in and the future well-being of
people and the biodiversity on which we are totally dependent. Therefore,
not only should taxonomy be appreciated and recognised as a critically
necessary resource, but it should also be available to all in need of it
world-wide. However, taxonomy's importance passes largely unnoticed and,
whilst the majority of the world's population and the earth's biodiversity
are to be found in the developing world, some 95% of the world's taxonomic
skills and resources reside in the developed world.
The inadequacy of taxonomic skills and resources in the developing world places in jeopardy not only the people of developing countries, but also the crops, livestock and genetic material upon which the developed world is also increasingly dependent. Further, with globalisation there are ever greater movements of people and commodities. The growing frequency of such movements is rapidly spreading associated organisms, particularly pests and diseases, into new countries. The quickest and most cost effective solution to this problem is effective quarantine enforcement including "safe origin" requirements, which is only possible through prompt and accurate identification of the organisms involved at the points of exit and entry.
Implementation of a number of international conventions and agreements - such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) and the Cartegena (Biosafety) Protocol - is greatly hindered by the inability of countries to access adequate taxonomic capacity. In particular, Parties to the CBD have recognised that implementation of the Convention is being significantly constrained by the lack of capacity in developing countries - the so-called 'Taxonomic Impediment' - and under the CBD the need for taxonomic capacity building is being explicitly addressed by its Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI). Most recently, the Sixth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the CBD has recommended to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the CBD a GTI Programme of Work (PoW) identifying in detail a range of taxonomic capacity needs to facilitate implementation of the Convention . This Proposal therefore makes specific reference to the GTI PoW and a number of other relevant CBD Decisions and Recommendations to demonstrate how EASIANET can contribute to implementation of the GTI PoW and thereby underpin the full implementation of the CBD (and other related activities) by member countries.
BioNET-INTERNATIONAL, the Global Network for Taxonomy, was established in 1993 with a specific mandate to facilitate establishment of subregional Technical Cooperation Networks (TCNs) to assist taxonomic capacity building and has already created an international network of more than 1000 taxonomic institutions in over 120 countries, facilitated by a Technical Secretariat based in the United Kingdom. Via its subregional TCNs known as LOOPs (Locally Organised and Operated Partnerships), BioNET-INTERNATIONAL provides a proven model for pooling, sharing and optimising existing taxonomic resources on a reciprocal basis in the various subregions, and for maximising the transfer of taxonomic information, expertise and new technologies from expert centres in the developed world to the relevant institutions in the LOOPs. The GTI PoW specifically identifies the subregional networks of BioNET-INTERNATIONAL as appropriate structures and mechanisms for building the required taxonomic capacity subregionally in support of national CBD obligations. Therefore, establishment of the East Asian subregional LOOP will be a significant step towards enhancing the capacity of the LOOP member countries to meet the decisions pertaining to the GTI and fulfil their obligations under the CBD.