The UN Biodiversity Conference, initially scheduled to take place in 2020, is taking place in two segments. The first part of the meetings took place from 11 to 15 October 2021, and the second part will convene in face-to-face meetings in Kunming, China from 25 April to 8 May 2022. This Executive Briefing provided the latest information on the preparations for the second part of the Conference, as well as the Subsidiary Bodies and Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework meetings, scheduled to take place in-person in Geneva, in January 2022.
About the UN Biodiversity Conference
The UN Biodiversity Conference comprises the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CP 10), and the fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (NP MOP 4). Originally scheduled for October 2020, the Conference has been rescheduled in two segments. The first part of the meetings took place from 11 to 15 October 2021, with the second part reconvening in face-to-face meetings in Kunming, China from 25 April to 8 May 2022.
With the participation of almost 2,918 delegates in Kunming, and 2,478 connecting online, part one of the UN Biodiversity Conference closed on 15 October, setting the stage for the adoption of an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the resumption of the meeting in Spring 2022.
The conference’s two-day High-Level Segment (12-13 October), opened with the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping of the 1.5 billion-yuan (about $233 million) Kunming Biodiversity Fund, saw the adoption of the Kunming Declaration, where Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity committed to negotiate an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The resumed sessions of the 24th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24) and the 3rd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as the third Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3) will take place from 12 to 28 January 2022, at the International Conference Center Geneva in Geneva.
At this Executive Briefing, the CBD Executive Secretary highlighted the outcomes of the first part of the UN Biodiversity Conference as well as present the Convention workplan in the run-up to the second part of the conference, including the intermediary body meetings scheduled to take place in Geneva in 2022.
Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
Martha ROJAS URREGO
Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Director, IUCN Centre for Conservation Action
Director for Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International
Sylvie MOTARD (Moderator)
Deputy Director, Europe Office, UNEP
Welcome and Introduction
Sylvie MOTARD | Deputy Director, Europe Office, UNEP
- 2021 has been extremely rich in major events relating to biodiversity, from the IUCN World Congress, the first part of Contracting Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Ramsar Extraordinary Meeting and the launch of a UN Decade for Ecosystem Restorations. There’s more to come in 2022: CITES, part two of the CBD, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
- Biodiversity protection and climate protection come together and are mutually supportive. As key drivers are overlapping, therefore solutions to address the key roots (of the problems) are similar. Today’s session will answer, “How are we going to reconcile all these overlapping objectives in our multilateral system?”
Outcomes of UN Biodiversity Conference Part 1 and Preparations of Part 2
Elizabeth MREMA | Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
3rd Open Ended Working Group meeting on post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
It was a virtual process of two weeks of 5 plenary sessions & 13 contact group sessions. It lead the process for the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which builds upon the lessons from and will replace the biodiversity targets of the last decade.
Led by co-chairs from Uganda and Canada, the first meeting was held in Nairobi in 2019, and the second one in Rome in February 2020 before lockdowns happened. Consultations nonetheless continued virtually.
The third meeting was held virtually in the end of August and early September, where the goal was to get the views of all parties and stakeholders. This session, where participants are only asked to listen and not comment on other comments, will become the basis of negotiations of the next part of the third meeting in January in Geneva.
The Government of Colombia organized the pre-COP at the level of heads of state and government, which provided the momentum and political commitments of an ambitious post-2020 GBF. The meeting considered all elements of the first draft framework which was launched way back in July, including controversial issues such as digital sequencing information on genetic resources (still yet to be decided whether it will be a part of the framework).
Some of the key points of the 23 August to 3 September meeting:
- Considered successful: Parties came prepared with views on the text of First Draft of the GBF
- There is general support for First Draft: recommendations for enhancement were provided, and they appreciated hearing each other’s’ views.
- Strong participation with record numbers that remained high over the two weeks with 1,682 participants (1049 from Parties), 141 Parties, 206 observer organizations. Parties were flexible and adapted to an evolving process.
- There were many areas of convergence and other areas of divergence are clearer.
- Good support for outcome document and next steps.
The next steps of the process:
- Second part “in-person” formal negotiations (January 2022, Geneva)
- Resumed sessions of SBSTTA24; SBI3; OEWG3 (12- 28 January 2022)
- Co-Chairs & Secretariat planning the scenario in consultation with Bureau
- Possible informal consultations ahead of Geneva to find common ground on some issues
- Lots of work to make sure Geneva meetings lead to a final text for adoption at the 2nd part of United Nations Biodiversity Conference (25 April – 8 May 2022)
1st Part of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference
The Conference included: 15th meeting of the COP to the Convention; 10th meeting of the COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol; and 4th meeting of the COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol. Critical areas of work were addressed with the Conference adopting an interim integrated budget for 2022. Progress reports from the Co-Chairs of the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and from the chairs of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies were also delivered.
The Conference was conducted in a hybrid format with only delegates within China can participate in person, apart from the five from the Secretariat. There were delegations from 154 Parties to the Convention, including Parties to the two Protocols. The Secretariat ensured a consultative and open Conference, involving all stakeholders in discussions while ensuring the safety requirements related to COVID-19. Further preparations for physical meetings in 2022 have also been made.
- During the Leaders’ Summit, we got confirmation of the political commitment and impetus, resulting in high-level commitments & announcements.
- Parties to the Convention endorsed the Kunming Ministerial Declaration committing to negotiate a post-2020 global biodiversity framework that is effective in bending the curve of biodiversity loss – and matched by the necessary resources, and with an effective mechanism to monitor and review progress, in line with the Convention and its two protocols.
- The Declaration details key elements needed for success, among them: mainstreaming biodiversity across all decision-making; redirecting and removing perverse subsidies; strengthening the rule of law; taking actions to reduce the negative effects of human activities; recognizing the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities and encourage all actors to make voluntary commitments, among others.
- The 2022 Interim integrated budget for Convention & Protocols and progress reports from the Co-Chairs and chairs of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies.
Other events that occurred during the Conference:
- Ecological Civilization Forum is two day event organised by China, whose objective was to promote multilateral cooperation and engagement among different government sectors and public-private and civil society actors. There was also an exchange of innovative approaches and practical work undertaken at different levels of government to advance biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and natural capital investments.
- NGO Action Forum is two day event organised by China to engage non-state actors to raise ambition around the post-2020 GBF. The event benefitted from the rising momentum behind the biodiversity agenda, with increased engagement by different actors. A coalition of civil society organizations among others publicly announced commitments, working to address various aspects of the biodiversity crisis.
- Business and Biodiversity Week is a 5 day event organized by SCBD in collaboration with partner organizations and the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity. It aimed to provide a space for corporate engagement, knowledge sharing, and identifying solutions, towards an exchange of views to shape a new pathway to curb biodiversity loss through corporate commitments and actions.
Roadmap 2022: Resumed sessions and 2nd part of United Nations Biodiversity Conference
Climate change and biodiversity are inseparable. A coherent message at UNFCCC COP-26 and UNCCD COP15 is needed to confront the biodiversity crises alongside the climate and land degradation crises.
As such, preparations for “in-person” sessions of the resumed meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies and Open-ended Working Group in Geneva (12-28 January 2022) are on their way. Resumed sessions will include formal negotiations to press ahead on outstanding issues. There will also be potential informal consultations ahead of Geneva to find common ground on issues.
4 key challenges ahead:
- Ensuring framework is sufficiently ambitious to meet the goals and achieve the 2050 vision, addressing all the drivers of biodiversity loss.
- Ensuring political ambition is matched by commensurate ambition in finance and other fields, as well as a robust biodiversity replenishment from the GEF.
- Having a mechanism to track implementation of the targets and goals, to reach the 2050 Vision.
- Building leadership commensurate with the challenge. Step change needed in the negotiations to make concrete the vision and commitments expressed by Heads of State and government leaders at 1st part of the UN Biodiversity Conference.
Ensuring a Global Framework
While being prepared and adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will serve as a universal framework for action on biodiversity by all stakeholders, organizations and related multilateral environmental agreements.
- Building on the recognition and alignment that they have already made with the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, biodiversity-related conventions are engaged strongly in the preparatory process of the GBF to ensure that it will recognize and include their own objectives, priorities and contributions to its implementation and monitoring:
- GBF will serve as a mechanism to foster synergies and complementarity in implementation of related MEAs and organizations to strengthen their effectiveness and achievement of their objectives. Particularly in allowing MEAs to pick the framework when it is adopted, and having them align with their own strategy. This is in the hope that all MEAs, as well as other stakeholders, can already see themselves in the draft framework.
- The UN system has also been engaged in the preparation and in readiness for implementation of the GBF – as individual agencies, through EMG and in preparing UN Common Approach to Biodiversity.
- Following adoption by CBD COP, expecting endorsement by other conventions and organizations and alignment of their strategies.
- The endorsement of the CBD Parties will also hopefully lead to the endorsement of partners and MEAs. This is hopefully the way to converge and foster harmonization, complementarities and synergies in response to bending the curve on biodiversity loss.
Discussing the Highlights of Summit Outcomes and Next Steps
Ivonne HIGUERO | Secretary-General, CITES
- CITES came into effect in 1975. An old convention, it is well recognized as a successful convention but it addresses only one part of the biodiversity jigsaw: the international trade in wild species of fauna and flora is the focus. It’s so important to have a global biodiversity architecture as it’s vital to ensure that our nature is conserved for future generations.
- The Secretaries of the eight major biodiversity related Conventions operate through this group called the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions. We have been very active throughout the negotiations of the GBF emphasizing the unique contribution that each of us can make to ensure its success.
- We have been urging that the mandates of our respective Conventions be woven into the framework to make full use of the activities undertaken by each Convention. The Plan Monitoring Framework (that is to come and is being planned) should already incorporate the data and indicators which are already being used by the various Conventions to track progress.
- Focal points of each convention at national level must be engaged to ensure the development and implementation of powerful yet inclusive National Biodiversity Strategic Action, taking into account all of these biodiversity related conventions, among others.
- CITES is pleased that there is a target in the current draft of the post-2020 framework aimed at ensuring that the harvesting trade and use of wild species is sustainable legal and safe for human health. When conventions can see themselves in this GBF, they may be eager to contribute to it.
- When we talk about sustainable management of wildlife, within our mandate we will be pressing and continue to press for the maintenance of these aspects of the framework and the elaboration of their wording to ensure that targets are clear smart and ambitious.
- Some of the enabling conditions, such as efficiency and effectiveness will be enhanced by integration with relevant MEAs including through the strengthening or establishment of cooperation mechanisms. We have some existing joint work programs and our cooperation mechanism through the liaison group, but we wish to have more of this. This is something that we very much endorse to keep in the framework.
- In their own strategic vision 2021 to 2030, CITES parties have recognized that their efforts to implement the convention may also provide benefit to and draw strength from the GBF developed by Parties to the CBD. They have set an objective of ensuring the recognition of the convention’s role in achieving the objectives of the framework.
- The CITES Parties and Secretariat are committed to a very ambitious GBF to halt the loss of biodiversity and realize our common vision of living in harmony with nature. The CITES parties stand ready to contribute within their own mandate of aligning their efforts wherever possible and working collaboratively to meet and even exceed the new goals of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework. You may count on our full support.
Martha ROJAS URREGO | Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- Regarding the outcomes of the first part of COP15, we also recognize that it was important in terms of building and keeping the momentum as well as re-engaging the sense of urgency in taking action. It is important to get the level of ambition to turn the tide on biodiversity loss and further shaping the GBF. We hope that this is going to be very useful as we move towards face-to-face negotiations.
- The biodiversity crisis that we’re living in requires unprecedented action and all efforts need to be mobilized towards common goals. There was a broad recognition that although there has been a lot of work, targets were not met and so we really need to make progress. We are far from being in the right path.
- There was also recognition about the importance of biodiversity and nature for development, for health, the relationship with climate change, land degradation and pollution – all of this is a very solid foundation on which we need to move forward. Biodiversity is not a separate agenda. It is something that concerns all of us.
- To get the level of ambition, we need enhance collaboration and coordination. The role of conventions then becomes important as each one provides important pieces towards the GBF, from the legal frameworks to policies and tools. Recognizing the contributions of these Conventions is key.
- On the Convention on Wetlands, this particular ecosystem houses 40% of biodiversity and many of the services we get from wetlands, including those for climate change, are under threat. We’re losing wetlands faster than any other ecosystem, and so it is important to mobilize and leverage what the parties do under this convention as a contribution to the GBF.
- To maximize impact, avoid duplication, and create more synergies, we need a unifying framework that engages all these Conventions. In doing so, we are not starting from scratch. The strategic plan of the Convention on Wetlands is already aligned with the issued targets, and the midterm review was planned in a way that will align it to the GBF. For example, more than 2,300 wetlands of international importance (the largest global network of protected areas) will contribute to the 2030 target. We also included the sustainable use and gender mainstreaming which will all contribute to the GBF.
- Another example is the joint work of the Ramsar Convention and the CBD that implements Inland Waters Program. We also have collaboration with other conventions. We need to draw on these so that the complementarity continues to happen, contributing to the robust monitoring framework mentioned, such as the indicator on the state of particular ecosystems where our Convention through national reporting is already contributing to the extent of water related ecosystems.
- To have a successful GBF in 2022, the framework needs the ambition that is commensurate to the level of loss we are seeing, thus including means of implementation through finance that addresses capacity building. The common framework has to explicitly recognize not only in text but in implementation the role of biodiversity related conventions so that they can clearly carry out their mandates. We need to use existing instruments and tools that we have, to avoid duplication of work. We need to create connections and synergies that is integrated the national level.
Trevor SANDWITH | Director, IUCN Centre for Conservation Action
- In September, IUCN’s 1,500 members discussed the post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France and adopted resolutions accordingly including one to develop and implement a transformational and effective post-2020 GBF. This empowers our state, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples members as we go forward to the next steps. Our union really has strongly affirmed that the GBF must be fit for purpose. It must adopt ambitious goals and targets to address the loss of nature, together with the linked challenges of climate change and land degradation.
- We emphasize that we must protect 30% of the planet by 2030, and the science underpins that ambition. Protected and conserved areas across the regional seascape and landscape can conserve biodiversity, but only if they are effectively managed and equitably governed.
- Rather than being regarded as a risk to people’s rights and responsibilities, we in IUCN regard this as one of the most powerful opportunities yet available to respect, support and defend the territories and areas of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as part of this global action. Many have emphasized that conservation of nature has been going on through millennia, and we have to empower it to be able to continue that. As many of you know IUCN also really tried to raise the bar on this and enshrine the elements of an ambitious target in a standard which we known as the IUCN Green List Standard for protected and conserved areas. We are ready to work with parties to support an ambitious target on area-based conservation concerned not only with what is conserved, but how it is conserved and how it respects the rights and processes and justice of and how it meets the goals for nature and for society.
- We also need to track this in an accountable way. In practice we’re currently working with 60 countries on this Green List Standard with more than 600 sites as candidate sites. We’re hoping to scale that up in the framework of GBF to at least hundred 100 countries and 6,000 sites, as emblematic of what can be achieved in practice.
- We must also conserve the oceans. There has been a great surge in interest in the oceans and, in looking at the oceans as part of a regenerative blue economy that can benefit millions of people while conserving marine and coastal biodiversity.
- Thirdly, we’ve got to scale up species conservation. We’ve got to improve the status of wild species and ensure that their use is safe legal and sustainable. We’re putting in place the Global Species Action Plan as a mechanism to support that implementation. I hope to be able to support that.
- Through my center, we are and must restore degraded ecosystems globally and support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. We’ve piloted many processes to do that in practice. We have many places where it’s evident that this can be achieved.
- We’ve got to pull our efforts together to ensure that sufficient funding goes to nature. The world has to increase investments from all sources to ensure implementation of the GBF. We have to redirect harmful financial subsidies markedly. To be able to do that in an appropriate way, across our program of action, we’re mobilizing many grant making programs to try and ensure that funding gets to local actors where we know it is effective.
- We welcome the political commitments made at the highest level that came through the first segment of COP15. But we have also witnessed the painfully slow pace of negotiations when it comes to the actual words and text. As we are hearing from the current UNFCCC, the negotiating positions of parties are way short of the high-minded political statements and that gap has to be addressed. I think that’s something that came strongly from Kunming and the question is how do we actually address that gap?
- While each convention and each instrument are separate, the GBF offers us the ability to bring some of these together for an efficient way of addressing some of the problems. Most of the solutions are already common solutions as was stated in the beginning. The good news is that biodiversity conservation is already a foundation for addressing both climate change and social, environmental, and economic challenges. Of course, that needs investment, but it also needs a mobilization of all actors. We can address these crises simultaneously and efficiently.
- We can draw on the knowledge and traditions of people who have been conserving nature patently to the present day, to harness that and to make sure that persists into the future as we move forward to the next steps here in Geneva. IUCN really looks forward to strengthening our partnership achieving together that sustainable world.
Lin LI | Director of Global Policy and Public Affairs, WWF International
I was in Kunming to share the excitement and the movement onsite. I was encouraged by all the science and actions made, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done to restore the nature we are currently destroying. To achieve the theme of COP15 towards ecological civilization and building a shared future for all life on earth, I would like to share four points.
- The first point is that I think the GBF and under the auspices of CBD should be the leading governing body for all global biodiversity. The GBF is the framework for all the Conventions, MEAs and regional conventions that really have a blueprint to manage all our biodiversity for the world. In the past, this was seen just as a Biodiversity Communities Framework. We now need to look beyond our own community, looking at the whole planetary. This is a framework for the climate community, the economic community, and the social community.
- The second point is that outside the negotiation room of CBD, there is a huge one-swell movements. Political will on nature and biodiversity are growing strong from different stakeholders. This strong movement is forming and growing stronger.
- The third point is that we are seeing encouraging signs of not only talking about protection, restoration and sustainable management, but also talk about changing our consumption, our lifestyle and reforming our economic system and financial systems who are really the driving forces behind biodiversity loss. We’ve also heard in high level events “nature positive” and “zero emission economy” mentioned so many times. Just a year ago, people started asking what nature positive is, but nowadays in almost all the higher level events, you can hear the global leaders talk about these. This really encourages science as we see global progressive thinkers and global leaders seeing the driving forces behind biodiversity loss and starting to tackle these and making it the global goal.
- My fourth point is that amongst all this encouraging science and global movement, if we don’t lend them into the national actions or into the global decisions, the words will only remain words and will not bring the changes that we need to reverse loss of biology.
Therefore, I would just make a few suggestions of going forward as we head to the January meeting going to April meeting into part two of COP15, elements that should be reflected in the GBF:
- First, we need a mission to reverse the natural loss and be nature positive by 2030. This is so that we can achieve sustainable development, this ecological civilization and the 2015 mission we set out to do. We need to put halving of the footprint our production consumption into the GBF because protection will only do us such so much. We have to reduce the pressure caused by our unsustainable production consumption and lifestyle patterns. We need strong implementation mechanisms to make sure that we deliver what we promised and ratcheting our actions when it is needed.
- We also need to mobilize sufficient financial resources to find solutions, nature-based solutions (NbS) being one of them, to find the right equitable solutions to have. In COP26, we see the sparkling of financial commitments from countries, from philanthropists, from companies. It’s good sign but eventually we need to build that into the GBF.
- We also need to have a rights-based approach and to have a whole-society approach to ensure indigenous peoples and local communities their rights and their contribution recognized, and have their participation included. NbS is a natural connector connecting nature under climate change and society, as we strive to build resilience and absorb shocks. This will help protect 30% of land and ocean, restore what we lost and sustainably manage the rest.
By addressing the economic drivers of biodiversity laws and protection itself and their sustainable use, we will be able to bring the whole of society full and government together, so that we would have that transformation needed to move towards the nature positive economy that we are all aspiring for. We at WWF and many other players are standing and working together because this is the planet for all of us and we’re all in this together.
Due to lack of time, a question was also answered during the closing remarks.
Elizabeth MREMA: I will use this opportunity just to answer the question with regards to the chemicals and biodiversity (In keeping with the biodiversity “jigsaw” analogy, where do you see the chemicals related conventions & others playing a role in reaching biodiversity goals?). Please check targets 7, 16 and 19. 7 is specifically on reducing pollution from all sources including at least half from nutrients and two-thirds pesticides, also including the discharge of plastics, and relevant to that is target 16 and 19.
My key message here is, as I said at the beginning, the parties to the CBD are the parties to the other biodiversity and chemical conventions. They are the same governments. We will be meeting in general, both in person and virtual. So, let’s urge your parties to also participate and attend the January meetings.
Should they not be able to go in person, they can also speak through their delegations who are present in Geneva. The virtual mechanisms give everyone the ability to participate and contribute through their delegations.
Thank you very much for organizing this briefing and looking forward to continuing collaborating with you all as we move this common agenda forward.
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