The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a briefing note containing preliminary highlights from the Bern III Conference on Cooperation among the Biodiversity-related Conventions for the Implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). The document will inform a high-level event on synergies among multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) during the sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6).

The Bern III Conference convened from 23-25 January 2024 in Bern, Switzerland, bringing together representatives of parties and secretariats of 16 MEAs, as well as stakeholders, organizations, and experts, to develop ideas for increased collaboration among MEAs at global, regional, and national levels. It sought to: identify opportunities to strengthen cooperation and collaboration within and among parties to biodiversity-related conventions, the Rio Conventions, and other relevant MEAs in implementing the GBF at all levels; share practical experiences of cooperation and collaboration in implementation; and make recommendations on further steps to strengthen cooperation and collaboration.

According to the briefing note, two webinars, a co-chairs’ paper with options for enhanced collaboration, an information paper cross-mapping MEA strategies and identifying key entry points for cooperation, and 45 case studies on good collaborative practices submitted by participants informed the discussions.

In an effort to share “a preliminary sample of the spirit and types of ideas debated at the conference,” the briefing note points out that several MEAs have already reflected on how they can contribute to achieving the GBF’s goals and targets. It further notes that while the conference provided an opportunity for mutual learning, significant support and continued momentum are needed for this work to continue.

Highlighting “great” potential for individual MEAs and thematic clusters of MEAs to partner for specific targets, the briefing note indicates that similar partnerships on the SDGs can serve as examples.

It also suggests that, inter alia:

  • Monitoring and reporting for the GBF can benefit significantly from using existing data sources but coordination on indicator work across conventions is needed;
  • Effective GBF implementation at the national level calls for inclusive processes and sustained dialogue among government agencies, the private sector, and other stakeholders;
  • Sustained and inclusive dialogue across sectors and with rightsholders and civil society is crucial; and
  • National leaders play a central role in ensuring the achievement of synergies and the GBF’s success by championing biodiversity and explicitly linking it to other environmental challenges, development objectives, and human well-being.

Participants considered a range of actions that could be taken, including those relating to: enhanced cooperation among relevant MEA secretariats; global review of collective progress; outreach on the benefits of cooperation and synergies; upcoming events as opportunities to enhance collaborative action; and cross-mapping of MEAs against the GBF targets.

Among many other issues discussed during the conference, the briefing note highlights the suggestion that a common Conference of the Parties (COP) or conference be held in 2030 to substantially increase attention to biodiversity issues and to the need to work together to address them.

The conference report, currently being prepared, will identify key elements and options for action discussed during the conference, highlight key elements of the roadmap developed by participants to show actions and milestones at appropriate levels, and outline suggested options for next steps for the Bern process that were discussed.

The conference was convened pursuant to a 2022 invitation to UNEP by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP to build on the Bern Process. It was organized with support of the Government of Switzerland. Attendance was by invitation only. [Publication: Briefing Note for UNEA-6: Bern III Conference – Preliminary Highlights] [UNEA-6 Side Event on MEAs Cooperation and the GBF: Insights from the Bern III Conference] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]