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The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan 2011-2020, which lays out the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, is rapidly approaching its 2020 expiration date. In view of this, the 14th meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP 14) established an Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to update the Strategic Plan and develop a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).

CBD co-chairs
Working Group Co-chairs Mr. Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Mr. Basile van Havre (Canada)

This Working Group (WG) is tasked with advancing preparations for the development of the GBF, which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October 2020, in Kunming, China.

The first meeting of the WG, which took place from August 27 to 20, 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, deliberated on the structure of the GBF and agreed that the Co-Chairs and the CBD Bureau would develop a zero draft text on the GBF to be submitted at least six weeks before the WG’s second meeting.

At its second meeting, the WG commented on the zero draft of the GBF that was released in January 2020. The WG approved the final recommendation of the meeting compiled by Co-Chairs Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada), and adopted the meeting’s report.

The second meeting of the WG convened for six days from February 24 to 29, 2020 at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, Italy, and was attended by 741 delegates: 380 representing parties to the Convention; five from non-parties; 61 from UN and specialised agencies; 49 from intergovernmental organisations; 154 non-governmental organisations; 29 representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs); five observers; 12 youth representatives; 16 from academia; one from a local authority; and 20 from the business community.

Co-Chair Basile van Havre opened the meeting on Monday, February 24, thanking FAO for the warm welcome and China for the support in organising the second meeting of the WG, which was relocated to Rome from Kunming, China, due to the ongoing situation following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu provided an overview of FAO’s relevant initiatives to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, stressing the vital importance of biodiversity for food production. He emphasized the need to mainstream biodiversity considerations in all productive sectors, and highlighted the challenges that necessitate the transformation of global food systems. He underscored the role of the FAO in multilateral policies, stressing its long experience and expertise in information dissemination, policy consultation, and capacity building regarding food systems.

Hamdallah Zedan, Ministry of Environment, Egypt, speaking on behalf of COP 14 President Yasmine Fouad, underlined the GBF’s importance in providing a detailed plan of action to reduce biodiversity loss, which is taking place at an alarming rate and requires urgent response. He stressed the need to: focus on implementation; raise ambition in goals and targets; provide financial and other means of implementation; and develop mechanisms to hold each other accountable and review progress.

Xia Yingxian, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), on behalf of the incoming COP 15 President Li Ganjie, stressed that “there are only 235 days left before COP 15, and yet a lot remains to be done.”

He emphasised the significance of the COP 15 theme, “Ecological Civilisation: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth,” and underscored the importance of ensuring goals and targets follow the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) criteria, and the need to ensure accountability and transparency.

Elizabeth Mrema, Acting CBD Executive Secretary, underscored the importance of making progress at this meeting and to advance discussions on the GBF. She expressed hope that parties and stakeholders would build a common understanding on the different elements and contents of the zero draft of the GBF.

New Zealand, on behalf of a group of non-EU developed countries, and Croatia for the EU, noted that although much work remains the zero draft is a good basis for negotiation. The EU further called for the draft to, inter alia: better reflectthe urgency of the biodiversity challenge, and the aim for higher ambition; have much stronger links with the SDGs; and make more explicit how the CBD will interact with other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).

South Africa, for the African Group, noting the low level of support for developing country participation at the WG meeting, underlined the need to ensure the process is country-driven and participatory. He highlighted the recognition by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) of the areas of focus of the GBF, which are aligned with the African Union Agenda 2063, “The Africa We Want,” and emphasised the need to ensure effective and timely means of implementation to support capacity building and technology transfer.

Costa Rica, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), said sustainable development is a cornerstone of the GBF, emphasising that “a society in harmony with nature is one that leaves no one behind.”

Georgia, for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), said that, while it is important to ensure a conclusive analysis of the failures of the Aichi Targets, there is also a need for ambitious goals, targets, and implementation plans, supported by adequate resources in order to address the drivers of biodiversity loss.

Kuwait, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, stressed the need to address biodiversity loss, highlighting the relevant work of organisations, individuals, and governments around the world, and emphasising the need to work together to achieve common goals.

The Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions underscored the need to enhance implementation while promoting complementarity and synergies, further stressing the need for quantitative and qualitative indicators, and raising public awareness.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stressed that climate change and biodiversity loss are “on the same side of a coin,” noting that the relationship between them is well documented. Highlighting the need for transformative change, he stressed the need for a coherent approach, decoupling positive action on climate change with potentially unintended negative consequences for biodiversity.

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity emphasied that cultural diversity loss goes hand in hand with biodiversity loss, and noted the need to integrate human rights in goals, targets, and indicators.

IPLC organisations stressed the need for financial means to galvanise urgent and transformative action across all society, and called for a rights-based approach, which includes IPLCs, women, peasants, and youth.

The Global Youth Biodiversity Network called for a standalone target on transformative education, and underscored the importance of indicators on youth and children. The CBD Women’s Caucus called for measuring both the quantity and quality of representation, and highlighted the emerging issue of gender-based violence.

The Business for Nature Coalition highlighted that forward-thinking businesses are changing the way they operate through understanding the importance of nature for their business, arguing that an ambitious GBF would result in a positive policy-business feedback loop.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) proposed a new target on emergency action for species, and announced that IUCN is ready to create a platform that assesses, stores, and curates commitments from all stakeholders on promoting biological diversity.

While Born Free urged that the framework include ambitious timelines focused on nearer-term outcomes (2030), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) noted that the post-2020 framework must be a global framework, in line with Rio Principle 7, the uneven distribution of biodiversity, and the reality that ecological processes do not occur exclusively within political boundaries.

CBD Alliance emphasised that purely area-based conservation measures are not enough to counteract the drivers of biodiversity loss, adding that indigenous peoples and local communities contribute hugely to biodiversity through their governance and stewardship of collective territories, lands and waters.

Saying that the 20 implementation targets for 2030 should be mutually supportive and not contradictory, the Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) stressed that adequate financing of the measures necessary to achieve the biodiversity goals must be ensured at the global and national levels.

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