27 Mar 2022
Venue: CICG Room 14 & Online | Webex
This hybrid session is a side-event to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) resumed sessions of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3), taking place in Geneva, in March 2022. The side-Event is organized by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Minamata Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Geneva Environment Network.
About this Side Event
In May 2021, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the Minamata Convention jointly published “Interlinkages between the Chemicals and Waste Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Biodiversity – Key insights”. The publication highlighted that pollution is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Chemicals and waste are ubiquitous in the environment and found in all parts of the globe, and global production and distribution of chemicals-based products continues to increase. The reduction and elimination of pollutants will therefore be an essential objective of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata conventions address some of the most significant chemicals and waste pollution that has been identified over the last several decades and are thus contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and will provide an essential contribution to the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) agreed 2 March 2022 in Nairobi, on a historical resolution to End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument. The Executive Director of UNEP is requested to convene an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee with the ambition of completing its work on a new global agreement by the end of 2024, and to work closely with other relevant instruments.
The Basel Convention adopted the Plastic Waste Amendments in 2019, clarifying the scope of plastic waste subject to the PIC procedure and promoting the environmentally sound management, prevention and minimization of plastic waste. The Convention on Biological Diversity also contributes to preventing and mitigating the adverse impacts of plastic waste on biodiversity.
The Stockholm Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan provides global trends in the POPs levels. While it is an important tool to evaluate the effectives of the Stockholm Convention, the information is also crucial for assessing impacts on biodiversity. The Stockholm Convention held its seventeenth meeting of the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) in January 2022 and considered, among others, the proposals submitted by Parties for listing new chemicals under the Convention: methoxychlor, Dechlorane Plus, UV-328, chlorpyrifos, chlorinated paraffins with carbon chain lengths in the range C14-17 and chlorination levels at or exceeding 45% chlorine by weight; long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids, their salts and related compounds. Some of them are found to be transported to the places far from the source of the pollution (long-range environmental transport), through plastic debris carried by ocean current or ingested by migratory species, or dusts carried by air.
The joint side event on biodiversity and chemicals and waste put the spotlight on the strong link in the sound management of chemicals and waste and biodiversity.
Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Director, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER
Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions | Moderator
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER | Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor, BRS Conventions
- This event on Chemicals Waste and Biodiversity has been co-organized by the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Convention, and the Minamata Convention with the collaboration of the Geneva Environment Network. I would like to introduce our panellists and participants today. Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Neville Ash from UNEP WCMC and Carlos Martin Novella, Deputy Secretary of the BRS Conventions.
Elizabeth MREMA | Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
- Good afternoon to those of us here in the venue, greetings to those who are with us virtually. We are in Geneva, a major hub of the global governance of chemicals and waste, with the presence here of the three secretariats and adding the Minamata Secretariat, together with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Thanks to the Geneva Environment Network and other entities that are working on pollution-related matters. I do not need to explain that we are meeting for the last two weeks and the remaining few days under the umbrella of the Convention on Biological Diversity with our two subsidiary bodies and the working group, where negotiations for the, hopefully transformative, ambitious, and realistic post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, continue to take place. In addition, you may recall recently we had also a decision from the UN Environment Assembly for the initiation of the international intergovernmental association for the new multilateral treaty on plastic waste. And one might wonder where does biodiversity come from plastic waste, but this is the essence of this joint event. The development and adoption of this overarching framework come actually at a time in history when we are facing multiple crises of climate change, biodiversity, pollution and health. And at a time when it has become imperative for the world community to come together to make the necessary changes to ensure the well-being of the people and the planet, both for the current and future generations. So, our conventions need to be part of this movement for transformative changes and further explore potentials for synergies and cooperation. Our convention needs to continue to explore these complex interlinkages and commonalities between chemicals, waste and biodiversity. Among other Sustainable Development Goals, if we look at ah SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, it is an important goal that brings all our conventions together. The use of chemicals is growing due to population growth, increasing consumption, and the trend is likely to continue. But hazardous waste and other pollutants also, especially those which continue to be released into the atmosphere and the environment in large quantities have their own effect, and ecosystems are equally affected by these pollutants, as well as their capacity to provide services to humans.
- The IPBES report or Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, identified pollution as one of the direct drivers of biodiversity loss. The same report also considered that waste, through its impact on air and water quality, has negative impacts on well-being, especially among the poor and the vulnerable groups. Maria, from the Chemicals Secretariat, will give us some insights on the interlinkages between biodiversity, chemicals and waste, particularly from the recent study published by the UNEP with BRS and the Chemicals Convention together with the Minamata Secretariat. In addition, we will hear from Neville, from the World Conservation Monitoring Center, on the recent study and the consultation on strengthening collaboration and coordination among the chemicals and waste conventions, as well as biodiversity-related conventions, which was sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers. These two studies will prove to us how cooperation and synergies among our different conventions are inevitable. We all know that global efforts to enhance cooperation will not be enough. So must be strengthened not just at the global level or at the level of the secretariats, but also at the regional and national levels on the implementation of these different conventions on the ground, where chemicals and waste are managed and where the impacts of biodiversity and ecosystems are being felt, particularly for the vulnerable populations.
- We are pleased and very happy that I have my colleagues here with us, and of course, all the conventions also had an opportunity to meet the co-chairs sometime in April last year at the invitation of UNEP to discuss and enhance this alignment of our Convention priorities together with the post-2020 GBF.
Carlos MARTIN-NOVELLA | Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
- Thank you, Elizabeth, for joining these other secretariats in this event as well as the Geneva Environment Network. It is well known that pollution is among the main causes of biodiversity loss, and we believe that the very specific MEAs dealing with chemicals and waste have a very important role to play. I will explain to you what is the role that the BRS Conventions play. Starting with Stockholm, it deals with Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). These are pesticides and industrial chemicals, and the Convention specifically addresses these for their impacts on health and the environment. And when I talk about the environment, the criteria that we use to evaluate the impacts of those chemicals and pesticides are based on biodiversity. When any of those products come to our table, they may be listed in the annexes of our Convention. This means that the production of those is banned, as well as their commercialization and use, and it’s necessary the destruction of all the pile stocks. If you, from the CBD, have any problem with a specific chemical, please be very specific and there will be a chance that it will come to the Stockholm Convention if it is proposed by any party. In addition, we have a compliance mechanism and a scientific body that applies biodiversity criteria, to assess if a chemical deserves to be listed. Finally, the Convention has the Global Monitoring Program assessing the remains of these chemicals, assessing water, soil, air and samples of wildlife and human fluids. I think would be extremely useful for the new Biodiversity Framework to be able to assess and use indicators in this in this context.
- There is also the Rotterdam Convention that applies to any chemical, not only POPs. When one chemical is banned for whatever reason in two countries of two regions, it might come into the Annex of the Rotterdam Convention, therefore, there is an obligation for prior informed consent. This is extremely useful if any country identifies that one chemical is causing damage to biodiversity, to trigger this process. But once again, what we need is not just you to tell us that pollution is a problem, we need to know exactly what the chemical is, what is the formulation that we need to consider.
- Finally, the Basel Convention addresses waste and the different levels of the life cycles of all the products when they come to waste. In the first instance, it regulates the transboundary movements of waste. Secondly, produces guidelines on sustainable management of waste streams, and finally can look at the aspects related to the prevention of waste. To give you an example of the relevance of this for biodiversity, I can mention what we have done with plastics recently. For historic reasons, plastics were not included in the annexes of the Basel Convention until our last Conference of the Parties, when some plastic types became included in the annex of the Basel Convention. Therefore, now there is a strong regulatory framework to identify those plastics when they are going across borders. We are working in collaboration with the World Customs Organizations and Interpol, these types of plastics require specific authorization permits to be transported across borders and some of there are even banned. And finally, with the guidance that we are submitting to the Conference of the Parties, there are very specific methodologies to be used domestically for treating plastics in order to prevent them to create damage to the environment.
- With this, I will finalize by saying that you have at your disposal three and together with Minamata four extremely powerful instruments. We are not framework conventions, we are executive conventions, we list, and we take out of the market and from use chemicals and the only need we have is to have very precise information. Unfortunately, I probably am part of the guilt. These Conventions have been, in my point of view, largely ignored by the CBD, historically, and I think that at this stage we should do something about that.
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER | Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
- The Secretariats of the BRS and Minamata Stockholm Conventions jointly prepared a report called “Interlinkages between the Chemicals and Waste Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Biodiversity – Key insights” Pollution is one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss. Chemicals and waste are ubiquitous in the environment, they are found everywhere all around the globe. They are invisible, yet they are part of our daily lives. We find them at home, in the environment, we cannot get rid of them, we need them. Still, the sound management of chemicals and waste is an enabler to many of the SDGs, starting with SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production. Of the 196 targets and the 30 indicators under the SDGs, around 69 targets and 91 related indicators have been cited to be relevant to chemicals and waste. Linking with the previously mentioned IPBES Report, also referencing this particular target.
- Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are human-made chemicals that persist in the environment for very long periods, travelling long distances evaporating through air and water and becoming widely distributed geographically. They are bioaccumulated on tissues, humans, and wildlife and have very harmful impacts on the environment and human health. POPs have been shown to have impacts on ecosystems and biota at all levels of the food chain and also affect human nature’s contributions to people. The effects of POPs on the environment have also been observed in a range of ecosystems: freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers, with rivers contributing pops to coastal marine environments. Mangroves, for instance, have been shown to contain a suite of chemicals including POPs resulting in impacts on biodiversity, plants, animals and the biota. They affect the ecosystem structure and cause the decline of vulnerable populations as a result of exposure to chemicals and pollutants. The accumulation of POPs in marine mammals such as Baltic seals, bottlenose and striped dolphins and killer whales, is associated with population declines.
- Despite Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) being listed for elimination in the Stockholm Convention, they remain a significant exposure concern for many aquatic biotas, including polar bears, killer whales, pilot whales, seals, various other seabirds and shorebirds and birds of prey. The levels of these chemicals put these species at a higher risk of immune, reproductive, and carcinogenic effects. PCBs mediated effects on reproduction and immune function may threaten the long-term viability of over 50% of the world’s killer whale populations.
- Pesticides, which are listed both under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions, have been documented to threaten birdlife and contribute to bird population decline from 20 to 25% since pre-agricultural times. Pesticide poisoning is currently the greatest threat to the Andean Condor and the Bald Eagle populations in the US that have declined in part because of exposure to DDT.
- DDT is another chemical listed for elimination under the Stockholm Convention. By affecting insects and pollinators, pesticides may also impact a wide range of other ecosystem services. For example, while animal pollination directly affects the yield and quality of about 75% of the global food crop types, pollinators are important beyond agriculture and food production as they and their habitats provide ecological, cultural, financial, health, human and social values. The decline in pollinators’ diversity is expected to continue globally and have direct effects on agricultural yields and food supplies. Currently, 16.5 % of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with global extinction, rising to 30% for island species.
- Today, humans extract more from the earth and produce more waste than ever before. The best estimate of the global amount of municipal solid waste is around 2.1 billion tons per year, with at least 33% of that amount not managed in an environmentally sound manner. As the proportion of discarded chemically intensive products increases, municipal waste turns into hazardous waste. Waste is indeed covered under the Basel Convention. Moreover, electrical and electronic waste, the e-waste sector, is one of the greatest growing waste streams due to consumer demand, perceived, and planned obsolesces and rapid changes in technology. Everyone owns a phone, a computer, a tablet, which are very nice but soon they will be disposed of and end up in landfills. In 2019 for instance, it was estimated that 53.6 million metric tons were generated globally up to nine 2 metric tons since 2014. This is expected to grow up to 74 million metric tons by 2030.
- Mercury, covered by the Minamata Convention, is a highly toxic heavy metal. It is transported also around the globe to the environment. Its emissions and releases also affect human health, the environment, including in very remote areas. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining contributes highly to this.
- Plastics are another issue of great concern. They are not only ubiquitous to the aquatic atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems, but also a threat to human health. The global plastic production was 359 million tons in 2018 and is expected to double by twenty fifty. Unless we do something, the effects of plastic pollution will be even more visible.
- COVID-19 contributed notably to an increase in waste. Considering the necessity of objects like masks, which turn rapidly into waste, there is an evident need to find a solution that is suitable both for the environment and for health.
- Marine microplastics are also made of chemicals, including POPs, which they accumulate transport long range. Once plastics degrade the environment and the marine environment, they become invisible but are still present and generate adverse effects. Micro and microplastics can also transport invasive alien species including harmful algae, pathogens and non-native species, with at least 300 species known to disperse by rafting on debris and which can form a new habitat.
- Conclusions of the report:
- Global food security is under threat, due to pesticides. There is a need for a reduction in nature’s exposure to pesticides and to promote the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes, For instance, agricultural runoffs including pesticides are a major source of water pollution in underground aquifers.
- Climate change is a key factor in amplifying the effects of chemicals but is also expected to contribute to the continued devitalization of POPs and mercury.
- The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions address some of the most significant chemicals and waste pollution identified in the last several decades and contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The three Conventions together aim at protecting human health and the environment. On the other hand, the Minamata Convention takes a life-cycle approach to humans to protect human health and the environment from mercury.
Neville ASH | Director, UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre
- I am going to talk about some of the implications of the understanding we have around the links between the biodiversity, chemicals and waste agendas. I will also talk about what that might mean in practice for strengthening collaboration and coordination between the MEAs. Over the last year and a bit, there has been some work that has been done, with the Nordic Council of Ministers, where at the UNEP WCMC we worked with partners to put together a series of information included in the report that Maria has mentioned, and many others. We worked closely with colleagues across the MEA Secretariats and with parties. We carried an expert workshop to bring information together with some oversight and much of that is focused on considering the information available, the understanding, and the experiences that governments and others have on the options for strengthening collaboration and coordination between the biodiversity, chemicals and waste clusters. There is a range of areas addressed by the report, but the last one is the most important; looking at the information based on pollution as a driver of biodiversity loss, which we have heard a lot about already; looking at the extent already to which has been an international response to the impact of pollution and including in that the alignment of the policy response across the biodiversity and chemical clusters, and of course, it is important that this is all implemented at the national and often a local level.
- There is a particular opportunity now with the ongoing discussions here on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Agenda and the post-2020 agenda for chemicals and waste. We recognized a number of areas where there are these came out through the report but particularly in the workshop discussions a strong and mutual interest between the Biodiversity and the Chemicals and Waste clusters, and these include some obvious ones like understanding the impacts of chemicals and waste on biodiversity; understanding the pathways by which chemicals and waste move through the environment; understanding the implications of those pathways for potential impacts known and possibly unknown on biodiversity as well; and understanding the consequences of these impacts, social, financial, as well as environmental; and then, of course, the shared interest in seeking opportunities to reduce the risk on biodiversity and from biodiversity change as well on human health.
- A key interest is in working together and understanding more about how there might be better more integrated approaches across biodiversity and chemicals and waste communities to have and ensure cooperative action, develop responses, and the role of biodiversity through Nature-Based solutions in addressing some of the challenges faced by pollution. For example, the use of trees in urban areas to improve air quality. Then we recognized there are a number of international initiatives already underway, so we are building, not starting from scratch. There are many lessons that have been learned from the wider cooperation, synergies and agendas which are important to consider as we think about the options for strengthening biodiversity, chemicals and waste. And the most important of these is that whatever actions are taken, they are focused on strengthening the implementation and achievement of the two agendas together.
- About the importance of national-level action, international synergies and cooperation are important, but there is also a need to work at the national level with international support, recognizing the importance of common issues and joint agendas, and importantly respecting the autonomy of the different MEAs, different parties and different mandates, and how they can be brought to work together respecting those different realities.
- There are four areas in which there are series of actions that came through from these various very practical discussions we had at the workshop:
- Strengthening implementation
- Working together to achieve common aims
- Coordinating common needs and services
- Utilizing key international entry points
- Some of these are simple and in some countries, they are happening reasonably well, but not everywhere. There are plenty of opportunities to think here, about where there might be gaps that can be filled, like ensuring that national focal points from the various MEAs know each other and have a chance to work together. We have seen several examples over the last decade, particularly in relation to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which included a target on pollution. But many parties and focal points for the chemical and waste cluster, jointly to the various conventions, were not aware that there was a pollution target that had been agreed upon under the Biodiversity Convention and vice versa. I think we are doing a slightly better job as we go into the post-2020 agenda, but still, possible opportunities to do more national focal point coordination. This is true also for competent national authorities responsible for managing chemicals and waste, managing biodiversity and the opportunity to strengthen through councils, networks, formal or informal processes at the national level of coordination and information sharing at the national level. That might be taken as a step further, to think about how there might be more integrated planning processes in place: National Chemical Action Plans, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, and the opportunity to better link those through the planning processes at the national level. At the international level, what might be in place to support are things like COP decisions, recognizing the importance of joint planning simple elements of text.
- Several areas that also came through were the opportunities to strengthen cooperation and collaboration in communications. Both the chemicals and waste and the biodiversity clusters struggle with communications and the importance of our dependencies on chemicals, as we have heard about our dependency on biodiversity and yet of course the risks and threats that biodiversity, people and the environment can face from chemicals.
- Planning, particularly here focused on understanding risk and looking at opportunities for strengthening governance to better and more jointly understand risk and plan to mitigate it.
- We heard already about some of the information available, but there is a need to be very specific in understanding the specifics of chemical impacts on biodiversity and how that can feedback into the policy process. So, sharing research and putting all this into practice through joint collaborative projects that can be put into place, co-designed, co-developed, co-fundraised for, and co-delivered between the different cluster entities.
We talk about synergies and reporting across the biodiversity cluster of conventions. But what about broadening that discussion to include the chemical and waste clusters as well? What are the opportunities to support capacity development across all the conventions, beyond the biodiversity and the chemical and waste themselves, working together there? Sharing of information is critical.
- Science-policy interface, with the recent UNEA decision, is a huge opportunity to strengthen the connections, lessons learned, experiences and joint work potentially in the future, including IPBES. This applies both internationally as well as at the national level.
- The last of these four points was where might this come into practice, where might these opportunities be at the international level for these entry points for strengthening coordination and collaboration. We have mentioned the post-2020 and beyond post-2020 processes, and the interaction between them could be important including the use of joint indicators under the monitoring framework that is to be determined. We have also mentioned UNEA in relation to the recent UNEA but also the future ones as they might be bringing together the pollution and the nature pillars under the UNEA discourse. Internationally important, also regionally, might be through the regional ministerial environmental forums and other opportunities to bring together these agendas and think about further alignment. This is certainly the case for international finance institutions, the GEF and others who are financing biodiversity and chemical and waste initiatives to think about where it might be again stronger connections, multi-focal area kind of projects and incentives for doing that. There are also other agendas where there is clearly an opportunity to bring the joint concerns and interests from the biodiversity and chemical and waste cluster to bear, and One Health would be an example of that, as well as the agricultural agenda, and others.
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER
- This represents a very important opportunity for us to be able to come together and see how we can ensure to break the artificial silos that exist between the chemicals, waste and biodiversity worlds. Most of the structures in place in the Conventions are very similar, some of the participants are similar, resulting in quite a lot of people working on these issues. Therefore, on occasions like this one, we discuss what can we do to continue this work, get to know what is already going on and hear from other participants on achievable actions that you be taken.
- Various actions are taking place at the Convention of Biological Diversity and in these meetings in Geneva to address the linkages between biodiversity and chemicals. The Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) has been meeting and part of its discussion contributes to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Specifically, draft Target 7 aims at reducing pollution from all sources to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and human health. When the Framework is adopted, hopefully including and strengthening this Target, there will be an opening both at the international and national levels to work on the common issue of pollution. Again, the joint CBD Program of Work on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity underlines the importance of this subject and contributes to preventing and mitigating adverse impacts of plastic waste on biodiversity. Hopefully, this new Convention or Treaty to be negotiated can play a major role in terms of supporting countries to continue to tackle plastic waste and bringing the chemicals, waste and biodiversity clusters together.
Q from Ingrid Coetzee (ICLEI): Working with local and sub-national governments and having been involved in the CBD process to get a renewed plan of action for sub-national and local governments, we wonder what can we do together? Yesterday, ICLEI launched a Commitment Plan Platform, linked to the 2030 Action Targets, which provides a mechanism and a vehicle where sub-national governments and cities can make commitments on Targets, including Target 7. Municipalities have a big role to play in waste management and one of the things that are most needed at the lower levels of government is not just capacity building, but very specifically also practical guides. For this reason, provisions on this platform for practical guidance, best practices are present, but we would like to talk to you further around how we can strengthen that collaboration, particularly on the planning and implementation sides.
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER
- Under the Basel Convention, there is a partnership on household waste, which would be great for you to link up with it.
Q from a representative of the Japanese Government in charge of pesticide management: The work you wish to do is quite difficult and ambitious. On the other hand, if we reduce the use of pesticides, food production may reduce as well, causing increases in hunger. More research is needed to better understand biodiversity and generate scientific knowledge. Therefore, it is important to follow science to undertake the decision of cutting off pesticides, otherwise, it will generate other major issues.
- The aim is also to advance the scientific knowledge, entailing also investments in scientific experimentation to understand how reduced pesticides and various forms of integrated pest management might support continued food production, resilience and agricultural systems. This will in turn avoid the problems that generate changes in the use of chemicals, like hunger increases. Therefore, our work is science-based but always researching and experimenting to determine opportunities to bring win-win outcomes for biodiversity and in this case, food security. That requires filling that knowledge gap because we have to both continue producing food and conserve biodiversity. This represents the research challenge we find ourselves in, identifying the best, most cost-effective, scalable, locally context-specific ways to deliver on that challenge.
Q from Steven Muba, Director General of Environment and Nature Protection of Gabon: Mine are two practical questions. Firstly, considering the number of complex issues to deal with and the little practical capacity of some contexts, prioritizing is difficult. We must address climate change, biodiversity and chemical issues and more. It would be easier if we only had to deal with a single issue, for instance, mercury issues. But there are various intertwined challenges requiring us to look at it from the gold mining activities, fisheries activities and health issues perspectives. Therefore, we find it hard to prioritize and choose where to put our efforts and allocate our workforce, while also struggling with technical capacities and guidance gaps. How can the combined work of the Conventions and the information of the reports help us to better prioritize? How can these support us with governance tools to better manage various issues in a concerted manner, reproducing efficient action on the ground? Secondly, how can you help us gather relevant data on the environment and build a framework of action? This represents a big challenge in terms of organization, which is then reflected in policies that should help us practically on the ground to deal with those issues.
- Priority-setting is a challenge for all Member States, and it is very linked to resources. It is interesting to look at these issues in the context of the current discussions on the replenishment of the GEF. The new GEF is going to have a structure based on an axis based on traditional focal areas and inclusive of new impact programs, where the majority of the money of the GEF is going to be allocated. These new impact programs are designed, in the way to find co-benefits between different focal areas. This entails not presenting an individual project on biodiversity, climate change, or chemicals and waste. Rather, it will be programs that integrate into the same physical space all the different aspects and priorities of biodiversity, chemicals and waste, climate change that will have access to the GEF impact programs’ money. This will give an enormous opportunity for the different Conventions to work together with national authorities and implementing agencies on the ground to implement what we are now discussing: how obtaining co-benefits in the implementation of the chemicals and waste, biodiversity and climate change conventions can move from being a theoretical discussion to a very practical exercise with funding from the GEF.
- It would be entirely reasonable for a focal point engaged in negotiations here in Geneva to reach out to colleagues across other MEAs and focal points from other conventions across the biodiversity and the chemical and waste cluster to discuss a pollution target. What is more important instead is leveraging that opportunity to respond to how can all focal points can come together with a set of priorities. This will entail comparing priority lists and identifying overlapping areas, which may be capacities for monitoring issues. That links back to the GEF as the GEF action grants announced that the first part of COP15 in Kunming will be supporting parties to think about the sufficiency of national monitoring systems. And maybe in those discussions, it will be helpful to bring in colleagues from the chemical and waste clusters to think about where it would be efficient to establish and strengthen national monitoring systems. Water quality might be a good example of that since it is directly relevant to the chemical waste and the biodiversity agenda. These are very practical steps that could be taken, but only after convening, sharing information with focal points and representatives from competent authorities at the national level. It is thus essential to have those discussions, identify joint priorities and challenges, and how that can then feed up with a collective voice into the various MEAs, which can support taking action.
Additional response by CBD Secretariat: Under the GEF-8 Replenishment negotiation, country support programs will be enhanced. These are designed to assist countries in prioritizing and developing integrated approaches and communication across the conventions for which GEF serves as the financial mechanism. GEF-8 will be kicking off on 1 July 2022 with a rollout of this program and we hope that the enhanced country support program and the national dialogues will support countries in this process. That would be a practical opportunity of helping operationalize the ideas discussed here today. The importance of science has been undertaken by FAO for a long time. FAO has been one of the strongest specialized agencies in the United Nations system in mainstreaming biodiversity in a genuine and practical manner within its programs. This means opportunities to strengthen science exist working with and through FAO and then through the establishment of a Science-Policy Platform under the BRS Conventions. It is also relevant to thinking of the collaboration we have been trying to stimulate across IPBES and IPCC. Additional collaborative opportunities might come from making use of the International Resource Panel on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
Q Citlali González, consultant working on ecological transition in Latin America: We are putting together an economic case for biodiversity protection and looking for examples, trying to give modelling examples only in every single aspect. One aspect that we struggle to find information on is the case studies, especially from the economic point of view, reducing chemicals, reducing waste and their impact on biodiversity. This is an area that could be really explored because we need to give examples, we need to show that from the economics perspective, make sense to make these changes happen
Q from Japan Superior Network for United Nation Biodiversity: Considering each convention has its Action Programs and some, like the Stockholm one is preparing to next Action Plan, would the harmonization of targets strengthen each Convention’s activities?
- Looking at it from a bigger picture, we have seen here in the discussions of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity that MEAs have been consulted. MEAs Secretariats have been contributing and actively ensuring that what is adopted in the GBF and as specific targets under the Framework can also be implemented by their Conventions. This will enable them, once the Framework is adopted, to align the GBF with their own policy documents, strategies and action plans. So we hope that alignment will happen, and if it happens, then, the same alignment also happens at the national level.
We are dealing with the same governments, same parties, in many cases, same government departments, same focal points. We, therefore, hope that the GBF will not contradict other MEAs.
- That is the essence of the contributions for which the Co-Chairs have gone out of their way to consult these MEAs secretariats and to make sure that the linkages are there, continuing to work together, and that the Parties of the other Conventions will be able to align is among our wishes, as we envisage the GBF as something other Conventions can see themselves in. For the chemicals this is where Target 7 then comes in as an entry point, but also one major decision which will be taken not just by SBI but by our COP, and virtually by every COP, demonstrating strengthened collaboration and cooperation among the MEAs. This is what brings us together and SBI will take that decision which will also feed into the conference of the parties.
- It is clear for everyone that the challenge of addressing biodiversity loss is very much on how you engage and mobilize sectorial policymakers and practitioners. This is embedded in Article 6B of the CBD. It is in the hands of those with the power to guide different policy sectors and to develop initiatives in the policy sectors. Preventing biodiversity loss depends on their engagement, motivation and proactiveness. The GBF is not a CBD framework, it is a whole-of-society framework where everyone can help identify key areas of concern to then establish bridges and collaboration with those who can do something about it. Despite CBD having pointed out for many years that pollution and pesticides are very relevant for biodiversity loss law, little action from the CBD has prevented this to happen. The CBD has not had the power to prevent this to happen. Those with the power to list and take pesticides out of the market are for instance FAO and the BRS conventions. So, the only way to ensure that the future framework is successful is by establishing mechanisms and instruments to ensure collaboration with people with such powers. Actors like BRS are happy to act on this, as the protection of the environment and nature is part of our mandate. It is time to understand how to optimize and coordinate efforts more efficiently and in a more workable manner.
Q: There is a need to apply a methodology to the Framework. Reflecting on ecological corridors, institutional connectivity is necessary at all levels, vertical, horizontal, international, regional, sub-regional, national, local, and even international. Without this methodological approach in the strategic framework, it would be hard to achieve results. This goes beyond the efforts of the CBD Secretariat and it is related to behavioural changes in institutions. Such change can be facilitated through donors, platforms, guidelines to donors, dialogues, involvement of parties, and development of institutional arrangements in order to address these issues. Institutional transformative change entails a change in the institutional culture.
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER
- We need to look for those institutional connectivities and to build on what we already have. To build on existing infrastructure and make it work. Allow the different elements that already are in place to talk to each other. We must ensure that we enhance collaboration and cooperation for a common goal is protecting human health and the environment.
- That needs to be done practically and tangibly. This entails leaving this meeting and taking the draft Target 7 wording to discuss it with focal points competent authorities from the chemical and waste cluster and asking their opinion on it. The draft wording there around reducing levels to such “they are not harmful to biodiversity”, and yet in the Convention the terminology is “banning”. There is a big difference between banning and reducing levels. It is important to start a dialogue between biodiversity and chemicals and waste actors to ensure that, when part 2 of COP15 comes around, biodiversity focal points and negotiators have an understanding of the interests and opportunities. This is key to further aligning, protecting and strengthening the common ambitions and the whole government approach of the Global Biodiversity Framework. Most importantly, very tangible steps are key to how the GBF might be operationalized and then implemented. The chemicals and waste community describes the growth in waste by 2030 and pollution is a key driver of biodiversity loss. On the other hand, biodiversity actors talk about here being nature positive by 2030, getting rid of the drivers of biodiversity loss in the next eight years. This shows there is a disconnection in the way in which information is available and used and shared in the implications of that information. But it has to happen as you say very practically and tangibly with institutions coming together, whether those institutions are individuals, focal points for Convention or heads of competent authorities. Would it not be brilliant if every party came into COP15-2 having had those conversations at the national level and bringing those conversations into the negotiations?
- A clear message we are getting, particularly at the national level, is to increase awareness. Awareness that these different Conventions for which the same country is a party are connected to each other. We have the task of creating that awareness and educating all those who are involved at the national level that there are different conventions with different mandates, but these sometimes converge on the same issues to address. It is important to pick these pieces and bring them together to create that needed awareness. GEF-8 will allows seeing, from the national level, this common project responding to multiple issues and conventions. This might result in an even bigger consideration than looking at silo issues.
María Cristina CÁRDENAS-FISCHER
- We need to stop reinventing the wheel and actually make it go faster.
- The timing is very ripe. At the CBD meetings, we are talking about the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Chemicals are talking of the post-2020 Sound Chemical Management. These processes have something in common. We must use them as the starting point of the next decade, moving from the silo implementation of different conventions into this whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach both at international and regional levels. But most importantly at national and local levels, where the actual action on the ground will take place.
In addition to the live Webex and Facebook transmissions, the videos are available on this webpage.
Live on Webex
Live at CICG
- Interlinkages between the Chemicals and Waste Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Biodiversity – Key insights | BRS MEAs & Minamata Convention | May 2021
- Strengthening collaboration and coordination between biodiversity and chemicals and waste clusters | Nordic Council | 16 February 2022
- Presentation made during the event