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South Africa hands over Chairmanship of the Group of Like-Minded Mega-Diverse Countries to Guatemala in the Republic of Korea

15 October 2014


The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, today handed over the chairmanship of the Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries to Guatemala, on the sidelines of the High Level segment of the 12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea.

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, handed over chairmanship of the Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries to the Under-Secretary of the National Council of Protected Areas of Guatemala, Mr Marco Tax Marroquin.

South Africa took over the chairmanship of the group of countries, commonly known as the LMMCs, from the Philippines in 2012.

The Group of 18 LMMCs are countries that contain over 70% of global biological diversity. This group of mostly developing economies covers about 10 percent of the Earth’s surface area. The Group of Like-Minded Mega-Diverse Countries was established in 2002 in Cancun, Mexico as a consultation and cooperation mechanism to promote parties’ common interests and priorities related to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The Declaration, establishing the Group, acknowledged that biological resources and the associated environmental services have an immense strategic, economic and social value, and offer development opportunities to the populations of these countries and the international community.

The Mega-Diverse Countries are a group of countries that harbour the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse. Conservation International identified 17 megadiverse countries in 1998. This group of countries represents less than 10% of the global surface, but supports more than 70% of the biological diversity on earth. The 17 founding members of the LMMC are Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, and Venezuela. Guatemala joined the LMMC in 2011.

South Africa ranks third in biological diversity worldwide, after Brazil and Indonesia.

Handing over the chairmanship to Mr Marco Tax Marroquin, the Under-Secretary of National Council of Protected Areas of Guatemala, Ms Thomson highlighted that the members of the LMMC were united in the commitment to nature, conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable utilisation of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Ms Thomson said it was fitting that the group of LMMCs had come together at the meeting of the world’s Environment Ministers which has as its theme Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.

“This CoP marks not only our commitment to achieve sustainable development, but will leave a historical stamp through the First Meeting of Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (CoP MOP1),” said Ms Thomson. “The LMMCs are a reservoir of genetic resources that have, until now, not been fully enjoyed by us, as the provider countries of these resources.”

South Africa is one of the 48 countries that ratified the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in 2013. This ratification was a major step for our government towards the sustainable development of South Africa’s green economy.

Ms Thomson welcomed the entering into force of the Nagoya Protocol on 12 October 2014 ahead of the first meeting of Parties (CoP MOP1) which is expected to deliver a set of new incentives to conserve and sustainably utilise biodiversity and thus grow our green economies.

“I would like to congratulate LMMCs that have ratified the Nagoya Protocol and also encourage the rest to ratify and deposit their instruments of ratification as soon as their national processes will allow.”

Ms Thomson said it was important to ensure that biodiversity and ecosystems are effectively integrated into the post 2015 development agenda.

“Our global sustainability agenda must integrate the three pillars of sustainable development through sustainable utilisation of natural resources and ecosystems as a precondition for long-term poverty eradication and well-being. Development of the Sustainable Development Goals should therefore draw from progress made and lessons learnt from the Millennium Development Goals and must not deviate from agreed-to agreements and targets in the relevant conventions,” she said. “It is our view that the LMMCs should emphasise the importance of growing links between MDGs and SDGs by identifying gaps and building on their strengths.”

In the two years that South Africa held the chairmanship of the LMMCs the efficiency and the contribution of the group has been enhanced through improved coordination, thereby strengthening its voice and visibility.

One of the milestones has been the development of an LMMC website that is presently being hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa, as a temporary measure, whilst options for hosting to ensure independence and sustainability are being explored.

A Road Map that will guide LMMC activities moving forward has been initiated.

“I hope that the incoming Chairperson will see this process to fruition and I am delighted by the fact that they already have a draft plan that is being consulted,” said Ms Thomson.

The speech of the Deputy Minister can be accessed on the link below:

>> Deputy Minister Ms Barbara Thomson’s opening statement at the Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries.

For media inquiries contact:

Eleanor Momberg
Cell: 083 400 5741


Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871