Visit of Prof. Pierluigi Bozzi
Institute of Oceanography, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
Prof. Pierluigi Bozzi, the Coordinator, International University Network on Cultural and Biological Diversity (IUNCBD) and Vice-President, International Relationships, A.S.J.A. St. Joseph University, Antsirabe, Madagascar, visited Institute of Oceanography (IOC), University of Calabar, from Sunday (4th September) to Wednesday (7th September 2016). He visited on the auspices of his office as the Coordinator of IUNCBD. IUNCBD is a network of universities with the overall mission to bridge the existing gap between science and policy in the area of cultural and biological diversity. Its motto is: Linking Education, Science, Policy and Society. The University Network was established in 2010 under the MoU between Sapienza University of Rome, Research Centre of Development Studies (SPES) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Some of the specific objectives of the University Network are:
• Establish a dynamic learning platform of dialogue between education, science, policy and society,
• Introduce a new paradigm of relationships between international Conventions/ Organizations and Universities; allowing universities to make inputs to international policy formulation by such agencies as CBD Secretariat in the field of cultural and biological diversity,
• Enable Universities to play a dynamic role as local social drivers open to society, local/indigenous communities, experts and policy makers.
• Enable Universities to bridge the gap of communication and knowledge between the university system of studies and the international Conventions/Organizations – by designing curriculum and research programmes that respond to the international conventions,
• Enhance the role universities can play in disseminating and linking the policy agenda and programme of work of the CBD and related international Conventions/Organizations to the local context to which they belong, among others.
With respect to Nigerian Universities, the IUNCBD strategy and initiatives aim to:
• highlight local academic experiences and best practices at international level and enlarge international relationships
• generate advanced scientific outcomes and innovative educational-research-capacity building initiatives
• enable the Nigerian universities to benefit from advanced in-put and knowledge on the high-level multi-scale policy debate
• enrich studies, curricula and projects, disseminate their results, and benefit from the IUNCBD Network internationally recognized mission, initiatives and linkages with the agenda of the International Organizations and universities partners with special regard to IUNCBD developing/emerging countries universities members located in rich biodiversity and cultural areas.
The IUNCBD initiative has a special focus on developing countries. It has launched an action plan entitled: “IUNCBD Biodiversity 2020 Action Plan: Linking Education, Science, Policy and Society”, as a strategy to achieve its objectives.
The Institute of Oceanography (IOC) became a member of the IUNCBD Network in January 2016.
During his visit, Prof. Bozzi delivered two Seminars on the topic: “Planning and Research Methodology to Implement the SDGs and the Work Programme of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)”, to IOC staff and students; and held several discussions with the Director of IOC, Prof. Paul J. Udo, the Strategy and Management Committee (SMC) of IOC, staff and students of the Institute, on the Plan of Action of the Network, and how IOC could fit into it.
Finally, it was agreed that IOC should coordinate the development of a stakeholder engagement strategy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Specifically, the platform will be known as Calabar University Stakeholder IPBES Forum (CUSIF) and will be launched and opened for membership very soon. IPBES means Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It is a specialized arm of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) charged with the global assessment of the role of biodiversity in the provisioning of ecosystem goods and services. Four UN agencies (UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP) are charged with the responsibility of running IPBES. IPBES is to biodiversity what IPCC is to climate change. Through the proposed Calabar Stakeholder forum, local biodiversity stakeholders (academics, policy makers, NGOs, CBOs, communities) in Cross River State can contribute to the international policy debate on biodiversity and ecosystem services as championed by IPBES.
The Focal Point of IUNCBD in Institute of Oceanography (IOC) is Prof. Udeme I. Enin (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: +234-7033427830 & +234-8052212459).
Discussions with Prof. Bozzi also centred on how IOC in particular and the University of Calabar in general, could help to highlight the rich biodiversity potential of the Cross River State and contribute to the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan 2016 of the Cross River State Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Conservation, especially with respect to the development of eco-tourism and the exploitation of genetic resources and marine bioprospecting. To this end, preliminary discussions were held with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Forestry, Biodiversity and Conservation, Barr. Edet O. Asim; which culminated in a courtesy visit of Prof. Bozzi, Prof. Udeme I. Enin of IOC, together with Barr. Edet Asim to the State Governor on Wednesday, 7th September 2016. The Governor noted the important role the university can play in enabling the State successfully implement its Action Plan on Biodiversity, and suggested that the University could organize a conference on Biodiversity to help increase the awareness on its importance and the huge investment opportunities that abound therein. Prof. Bozzi and Prof. Enin stressed the need for the establishment of the Mangrove Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Cross River State.
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