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Forum identifies key biodiversity knowledge gaps, priorities for science-policy research

The virtual sessions of the joint fifth Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity and the eighth International Conference on Sustainability Science closed on Friday, April 23, 2021 with participants identifying key biodiversity knowledge gaps and priorities for science-policy research, needs for capacity building, and opportunities for increased technical and scientific cooperation.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema
CBD Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema

Some 2,181 participants participated, with the conclusions and recommendations of the virtual sessions to be submitted to the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3), and the third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), said, “It is you, the scientific community, through your tireless work and engagement, that have kept ringing the alarm bells on the continuing loss of biodiversity worldwide. Your critical contributions will help the world community, and especially policymakers, understand how critical it is to act and urgently change our relationship with nature.”

Key points identified during the sessions include:

  • Protected areas can play a big role in stopping the spread of zoonotic diseases.
  • Forest Restoration can decrease transmission risk of zoonotic diseases, however, depending on how it is done, it can also increase the risk of some diseases.
  • Investments in nature, including halting land-use change, supporting restoration and making food systems nature positive, are key to preventing next pandemic.
  • Nature is deeply intertwined with and influenced by social, economic, and political forces; therefore, nuanced understandings of dynamic people-nature relationships are crucial to inform restoration activities that can support positive ecological outcomes alongside social well-being.
  • Viable biodiversity-based solutions for sustainability already exist and new solutions still can be developed based on new technologies and local context.
  • A culture of data sharing and attribution, capacity building and resource mobilization are needed to generate the information needed to implement and track the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • There is a need to reduce/eliminate misalignment between policies on renewable energy expansion and biodiversity conservation.
  • Digital technologies can facilitate mechanisms such as information-sharing, transparency, interconnectivity, value maximisation and automation to alleviate challenges in the woody biomass supply chain as a nature-based solution.
  • Renewable energy can create context-specific trade-offs, considering that renewable energy installations, ancillary infrastructure, and upstream/downstream activities could affect biodiversity through multiple mechanisms. Important to delineate and conceptualise trade-offs between biodiversity and renewable energy in a comprehensive manner.

Initially scheduled for October 2020, prior to the postponed fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the co-organisers decided to convene a series of virtual sessions to maintain momentum and use the opportunity to provide science-based input to the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The joint event is still planned to take place prior to COP-15, now scheduled to hold from October 11 to 24, 2021.

The Science Forum is an opportunity for scientists, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to conduct open discussions and make recommendations on how science, technology and innovation can contribute to the effective implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, bend the curve of biodiversity loss, obtain positive biodiversity outcomes, and foster transformative change towards achieving the 2050 Vision.

The virtual sessions were jointly organised by the International Union of Biological Sciences, the Consortium of Scientific Partners on Biodiversity, the University of Tokyo (Institute for Future Initiatives), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences, the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the UN Environment Programme-International Ecosystem Management Partnership, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the International Science Council,  and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.

Others include the University of Stockholm and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research. Additional contributors included the United Nations Development Programme, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Bonn (West African Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network, NatureServe, VertNet and the Young Ecosystem Service Specialists.

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