UN biodiversity talks close to adoption: COP15 President China

As high-level ministerial negotiations began on Thursday, China, under whose presidency the UN biodiversity summit, referred to as COP15, is underway, said 23 decisions being adopted, and a further eight being approved. Many others are in advanced stage of consideration.

In a letter from Huang Runqiu, COP15 President and Minister of Ecology and Environment, to delegates of 196 nations on progress and way forward in the context of ongoing negotiations in Montreal said among the remaining decisions, the key to the success will be agreement on a package of issues comprising some of the most complex and difficult issues linked to the global biodiversity framework.

Negotiators told IANS that finance — as ever — is a sticking point at the COP15, with 54 members of the African group, seven South and Latin American countries as well as other large countries, including India and Indonesia ‘walking out’ of late night finance talks in the early hours of Wednesday morning in frustration at what they say is a refusal of wealthier nations to guarantee support.

Japan, the EU, Norway and Switzerland are reportedly refusing to budge on even discussing the prospect of a new fund for nature with the campaign director of AVAAZ is claiming that France President Emmanuel Macron has sent a letter to Ursula von der Leyen (European Commission President) saying that the creation of a new fund for biodiversity is a “redline”.

The French have an unusual attachment to the current fund the Global Environment Facility (aka GEF).

However, the Chinese minister in the letter said parties have been making good progress under the two working groups, continuing technical work on the issues on the agendas of meetings of the Parties to the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols.

He said on Wednesday, during a meeting with the heads of delegations of parties, that he took stock of the progress to date, and outlined two tracks of work for the coming days: The first is continued technical negotiations under the two Working Groups; and the second is ministerial consultations, which will focus on key, outstanding political issues related to the envisaged outcome package of the COP15, the first international conference to be chaired by China under the aegis of the United Nations.

On technical negotiations, the letter says negotiations will also need to continue in contact groups, friends of the chair and other small group discussions.

“I expect that technical negotiations will be concluded in time for our next Stocktaking Plenary session on December 17.”

For ministerial consultations, he has invited pairs of ministers to lead consultations on outstanding issues benefitting from political guidance, which remain unresolved.

“In choosing ministers to undertake this important task, I have tried to ensure a balanced representation; not only among developed and developing countries but also gender balance. I have drawn on the experience of the ministers here in Montreal this week,” he said.

“I am committed to ensuring that we are able to adopt all decisions before or on December 19. My priority for December 17 and 18 is to bring the work together, and resolve any final outstanding issues, leaving time for document preparation,” reads the letter.

The aim of the COP15, which has been delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is to reverse the current trend of biodiversity loss by 2030 and to agree on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), which is to replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets that were unsuccessful and expired in 2010.

WWF experts urge leaders to leave their trust issues at the door and cease the game of chicken and egg between ambition and resources that has gone on for far too long.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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