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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

UN urged to invite Heads of State to CBD COP15

With just one month to go until COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) begins in Montreal, Canada, the press reported on Thursday, November 10, 2022, that there will not be heads of state at COP15.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Apparently bothered about the report, some 14 former Heads of State and Ministers have called on UN Leaders to invite Heads of State to COP15.

They include Russ Feingold Chair of Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee, former US Senator and former Special Envoy to Great Lakes Region of Africa; Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Iván Duque Márquez, former President of Colombia; Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC; Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, former President of Iceland; and Zakri Abdul Hamid, Founding Chair of IPBES and former Science Advisor to Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Others are Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone; Tony LaVina, former Undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines; Tzipi Livni, former Foreign Minister of Israel; Susana Malcorra, former Foreign Minister of Argentina; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland; Ruhakana Rugunda, former Prime Minister of Uganda; Rashid Sumaila, Professor, Institute for Oceans and Fisheries; and Yongyuth Yuthavong; former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand.

In a statement, they described the situation as very concerning, considering that the “critical” conference seeks to agree on a pathway to curb the collapse of the entire planetary life support system.

They submitted that one million species are at risk of extinction and unless critical ecosystems are urgently protected, we could face serious threats not just to the natural world, but to our climate, health, food and clean water supply. 

The added: “COP15 is the most important global summit for nature this decade. A 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework should be agreed, but negotiations are way off track and there are serious concerns about the capacity of officials to find common ground without a clear indication from the highest level that it is a priority. Having government leaders there is essential to elevate this crisis to the level it deserves with officials, the media, the public and importantly to send a clear signal to investors and shareholders that the world is united in an ambition to end the devastating business as usual.

“The COP15 summit has been referred to as the moment for a ‘Paris Deal’ for nature – referring to the Paris Climate Agreement where the world came together behind a global climate agreement. The Paris Agreement was achieved because despite great differences between nations, leaders came from every continent, understanding the political significance and importance of finding compromises through decisions that only they can make on very short timelines. As ex heads of state and ministers and UN leaders we know how important the leaders’ presence can make to these summits.

“We understand that, if invited, heads of state would be inclined to go. It would also be possible to hold a hybrid event, as happened frequently during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, to ensure the balanced participation of leaders from all over the world.

“There is no possibility for the ambitious agreement our planet needs if we continue with business as usual. For this COP to have a chance of success we need it to begin with high level representatives from governments from all regions of the world declaring their commitment, determination and motivation to get a deal.

“We call on the United Nations, in coordination with China and Canada, to invite world leaders and ministers to deliver an ambitious opening to this summit that underscores the urgent need for action and sends a clear signal that defending our planet’s precious ecosystems and all the spectacular species that live here must be a priority.”

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