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COP15 high-level segment closes, Kunming Biodiversity Fund emerges, Kunming Declaration adopted

The High-Level Segment of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) closed on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 with the adoption of the Kunming Declaration, where Parties to the Convention committed to develop, adopt and implement an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework that would biodiversity put on a path to recovery by 2030 at the latest, towards the full realisation of the 2050 Vision of “Living in Harmony with Nature.”

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, at the Closing Plenary of the High-Level Segment of COP15

Critically, the framework would also include provision of the necessary means of implementation, in line with the Convention and its two protocols, as well as appropriate mechanisms for monitoring, reporting and review.

The landmark post 2020 global biodiversity framework is due to be adopted at part two of the UN Biodiversity Conference in May 2022, following further formal negotiations in January 2022. The Declaration gives clear political direction for those negotiations.

The Declaration addresses key elements needed for a successful post-2020 framework: the mainstreaming of biodiversity across all decision-making; phasing out and redirection of harmful subsidies; strengthen the rule of law; recognizing the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities and ensuring an effective mechanism to monitor and review progress; among others.

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The High-Level Segment opened on October 12 with the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping setting the tone by investing 1.5 billion yuan (about $230 million) to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries. He invited other countries to contribute. The government of Japan extended its Japan Biodiversity Fund by 1.8 billion yen (about $17 million).

During the meeting, the Global Environment Facility, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), announced their commitment to fast-track immediate financial and technical support to developing country governments to prepare for the rapid implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework once it is formally agreed next year at COP15. The commitment from Japan to extend its funding will provide support for National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.

The European Union noted the doubling of external funding for biodiversity. President Macron of France noted the commitment for 30% of climate funds to be used for biodiversity. The government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland also announced that a significant part of its increased climate funding will be directed towards biodiversity. A coalition of financial institutions, with assets of €12 trillion, committed to protect and restore biodiversity through their activities and investments.

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Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said: “The adoption of the Kunming Declaration is a clear indication of the worldwide support for the level of ambition that needs to be reflected in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be finalized next spring in Kunming.

“I also want to congratulate President Xi for the establishment of the Kunming Biodiversity Fund and look forward to more financial and technical commitments in support of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and its implementation.”

Minister of Ecology and Environment of China and COP15 President, Huang Runqiu, said: “Since the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity as the first global agreement on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, it has played an important role in promoting global biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. However, we are still facing a grim situation of unprecedented global species extinction. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation pose major risks to human survival and sustainable development.”

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“As a part of COP15, the High-Level Segment has signalled renewed political will to boost ambition, enhance collaboration and maximise opportunities for synergies across other multilateral agreements. The Convention on Biological Diversity must strengthen global biodiversity governance. China will continue to play a leading role building on the vision of ecological civilisation for shared future for all life on Earth,” added Minister Huang.

The High-Level Segment was marked by passioned calls from stakeholders for transformative action. In what looks like an inspiring intervention, Josefa Tauli, an Ibaloi-Kankanaey Igorot from the Cordillera Region in the Philippines, asked: “In this period that calls for nothing less than urgent, transformative action, my question to you is: Who are you and are you who you need to be?”

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