After 15 days of high-level negotiation in Geneva, world governments have produced a strong basis for a post-2020 global biodiversity framework to safeguard the health of the planet, scheduled for final agreement at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming in China this year.
“Governments came to Geneva eager to meet in person and make progress on urgent action on the goals, targets and institutions needed to protect nature,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“They have engaged in intense discussions drawing a variety of positions and shown the power of multilateralism and a willingness to seek common ground.
“When we started the meeting, the text under discussion was our proposed first draft,” said Francis Ogwal, who with Basile van Havre co-chairs the Global Biodiversity Framework negotiations working group.
“Following the engagement and discussions here in Geneva, this text is now clearly that of world governments and we are in a party-led process.
“During the session, governments retained the overall shape and structure of the first version of the framework, which includes goals, targets, and means of implementation, but added many other elements and qualifications that require further negotiation.
“These will be held in June in Nairobi, where delegates will further refine the framework and agree on language to present for adoption in Kunming.”
The overarching goals of the draft framework — to protect the elements of biodiversity at all levels (genetic, species and ecosystem), sustainability and human well-being in the use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity — were reaffirmed during the Geneva sessions.
Many suggestions added to the text, as well as milestones to assess progress, require additional consideration, with governments differing on the need and pacing.
The 21 draft targets for the framework also took centre stage in discussions, with extensive engagement and suggestions for added elements coming from all parties and regions.
The intense discussions and high level of engagement by delegates led to extensive discussions, meaning that much of the text will require streamlining.
However, this shows that world governments hold great importance to the discussions.
Responding to key takeaways from the biodiversity negotiations, conservation organisations say an overall lack of progress has bogged down the process with too many unresolved issues, requiring another in-person negotiation will be held in June.
The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) is scheduled to conclude in September, almost exactly two years after it was initially planned to occur.
They say despite these challenges the meetings in Geneva did make some progress, including on the proposal to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030.
Brian O’Donnell, the Director of Campaign for Nature, said: “Unfortunately, the negotiations in Geneva have not reflected the urgency that is needed to successfully confront the crisis facing our natural world.
“Progress with the negotiations has been painfully slow, and the level of ambition with financing remains woefully inadequate.
“There is emerging consensus in support of the science-based proposal to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030, which is encouraging, and there is growing recognition of the need to better safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who must be central to achieving the world’s biodiversity goals.
“However, there remain serious challenges that will require renewed leadership from governments around the world. In order for any deal to be meaningful, donor countries must commit to far more ambitious financing targets, and all world leaders will need to more clearly demonstrate that addressing the biodiversity crisis and finalising a global agreement at COP15 is a priority for their country and for the planet.”