Wildlife & Biodiversity

Can Montreal help communities: COP15 negotiators have their work cut out; here is how   

Developed countries are expected to oppose their developing counterparts; but change is imperative  

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Monday 05 December 2022
The US has not ratified CBD. It is set to send a large contingent to COP15. There are fears that they will drown the voice from developing countries. Photo: @POTUS / Twitter

As negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework begin in Montreal, negotiators need to keep in mind that ambitious conservation targets will remain out of reach without commitment from all countries.

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework provides an opportunity to address the issues around biodiversity and ensure that tenets of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) remain relevant in face of new threats from climate change.

In 2021, for the first time, UN bodies — Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — came together to highlight the connections between the climate and biodiversity crises and warned that climate change will cause massive loss to biodiversity.

But politics and self-interest are still hindering progress. For instance, the US has not ratified CBD. Participant registration data with CBD shows the country is set to send a large contingent to the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15). And there are fears that they will drown the voice from developing countries.

Read Road to COP15: DTE’s coverage in the run-up to Montreal

COP15 has seen registrations from over 10,000 delegates, of which governments represent 2,400 delegates.

Africa, one of the most biodiverse continents, has the biggest contingent consisting of 1,040 delegates from governments, but other biodiversity-rich areas such as Latin America and the Caribbean are sending just 284.

Stakeholders from non-profits, groups representing indigenous people and communities, youth groups and businesses make up the rest of the registrations.

Despite the interest and the fact that biodiversity is crucial for protecting the planet, heads of states will not attend COP15.

The CBD Secretariat has its work cut out if it wants to finalise a “Paris-style” deal to reverse biodiversity loss in the coming decade. For this, other than the negotiations, three events have been planned.

The Business and Biodiversity Forum will bring together governments, policymakers, business leaders, the finance sector and interest groups to devise ways to support implementation of the goals and targets of the post-2020 framework.

The Nature and Culture Summit will provide a platform for strengthening links between biological and cultural diversity. There is also an event to help the global financial community to engage with negotiators.

The CBD Secretariat has voiced hope that the heads will send negotiators with a clear mandate of ensuring that the framework is agreed upon.

“We know from experience that ultimate decisions tend to be made just before the gate closes,” Hartmut Meyer, team leader of the multi-donor ABS Capacity Development Initiative implemented by German non-profit GIZ, said.

What is missing from the agenda is discussion on access and benefit-sharing. “This will remain a challenge for a long time to come, given that biological resources are becoming scarcer, with their conservation and sustainable use affected by climate change, conflicts and wars,” Ronnie Vernooy from Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (part of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) said.

The challenge is putting a system in place. “There is still a need to find ways to enhance the contribution of benefit-sharing to local livelihoods and biodiversity as a way to fully recognise and empower actors on the ground,” Maria Julia Oliva, head of policy at UN Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre said.

The fact is CBD is not supposed to benefit just researchers or governments, but also people who have conserved the world’s biodiversity. This is what negotiators at COP15 must keep in mind.

This is the final of a four-part series on COP15 Montreal summit. It was first published in the Down To Earth print issue of 1-15 December, 2022

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