I’m here in Nairobi attending the technical meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) known as SBSTTA. The big meeting, which will happen in October in Japan, is basically a UN meeting to discuss the future of nature on our planet – to put it VERY simplistically.
The government of Japan, which is hosting the October meeting in Nagoya, held a side event in Nairobi yesterday to talk about an initiative that they are launching with the United Nations University to realize their vision of “societies in harmony with nature”. The proposal, called the Satoyama Initiative, aims to conserve biodiversity through the inclusion of human communities – as opposed to preserving the environment by focusing exclusively on pristine environments where human activities almost do not exist.
These types of landscapes, which combine conservation with human-influenced areas, like farms or villages, already exist all over the world under different names. In Japan, they are called satoyama (it’s a combination of two words: yama, which means mountains, woodlands, or grasslands, and sato, which means villages). Too many or too few human interventions, among other problems, are threatening these landscapes.
Satoyama itself is not a new concept. What is new is the Satoyama Initiative, which aims to support existing “satoyamas” around the world and expand good practices over the next few years so that nature and people around the world can exist harmoniously in the long term. It could also help to promote biodiversity conservation alongside efforts to preserve forests and other environments which absorb carbon and help to fight climate change.
The initiative has everything to do with what Conservation International has been doing for years. It also aligns closely with the CBD goals for species conservation. During yesterday’s event, the executive secretary of the CBD, Ahmed Djoghlaf, said: “The Satoyama Initiative is the CBD, and the CBD is the Satoyama Initiative.”
Yoji Natori is the program coordinator for the Center for Conservation and Government in CI-Japan.