Countries start work on new biodiversity framework

As the Amazon burned, governments met in Nairobi to discuss protecting nature ahead of crucial summit in China next year
<p>A Brazilian fireman near Porto Velho, Upper Amazon river basin (Image: Alamy)</p>

A Brazilian fireman near Porto Velho, Upper Amazon river basin (Image: Alamy)

The rapid loss of nature has been the focus of a number of major reports this year, with the UN warning that one million species are at risk of extinction unless current trends are reversed.

The first round of talks on a post-2020 framework to protect and restore global biodiversity closed in Nairobi last week, with a focus on how to implement it.

Countries are expected to adopt the new framework when they meet again next year in Kunming, China, for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Towards a new framework

Susan Gardner of the UN Environment Programme said: “The meeting has been making excellent progress towards its aims of further exploring the scope and key elements of the framework.”

Gardner explained that because the Nairobi meeting was the first global one on the new framework, many details are still to be resolved.

The Convention’s objectives

  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Sustainable use of biodiversity
  • Fair and equitable sharing of benefits of genetic resources

She added that almost all countries party to the CBD have updated their national biodiversity strategies and action plans – the mechanism under by which countries agreed to voluntarily implement 20 overarching goals to end biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems, known as the Aichi targets. These targets expire next year, and most will not be met.

“In a few cases the targets embedded in these strategies and action plans were more ambitious than the Aichi targets,” said Gardner. “Most countries have then also reported on progress towards their national targets, as is legally required under the Convention.”

Nele Marien of Friends of the Earth International said as the world is so intertwined the burden of loss of biodiversity cannot be put on countries that provide resources to others.

“Instead we must look to the countries where the highest consumption is concentrated. This aspect needs to be included in targets, and in biodiversity accountability,” she said.

Oscar Soria of campaign group Avaaz said: “We need a strong framework with citizen participation that will help us to realise ambitious goals and set us on to the path of recovery in order to avoid mass extinction.”

Implementation as well as targets

Li Shuo, a senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace China, who has called for a “Paris-style paradigm shift in governance for biodiversity”, said that improving implementation of the biodiversity plan is crucial.

“There is a widespread view that the Aichi biodiversity targets are not [being] met primarily because of insufficient implementation. The Nairobi session has put addressing the implementation deficit firmly on the table. Now we urgently need concrete solutions to improve implementation,” he said.

Sonia Peña Moreno, coordinator of global biodiversity policy and governance at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said: “Parties have been voicing loud and clear the need for good compliance and accountability mechanisms to accompany the goals and targets that are agreed to in Kunming. Discussions must continue to flesh out what those mechanisms would look like and how they would be enforced.”

Li Shuo said another issue that attracted significant debate in Nairobi is the relationship between the post-2020 biodiversity framework, to be agreed in Kunming, and the Convention.

“Here, quite divergent views exist regarding how the framework should address the full scope of the Convention, particularly its three objectives: conservation, sustainable use, and access and benefit sharing,” he said.

Li Shuo noted that finding enough support for developing countries, in both financial and non-financial terms, was also a hot topic.

“How to mobilise sufficient resource under challenging geopolitical conditions will be a profound test to the CBD community,” he said.

He observed that China, as the incoming COP host, will play a crucial role in the run up to Kunming, noting that the meeting will be the biggest global environmental meeting China has ever hosted and a test of its environmental ambition and diplomatic skill.

“The COP also provides a valuable opportunity for Beijing to advance its domestic biodiversity protection agenda,” he emphasised.