29 September 2020
CBD Convenes Virtual Discussion Ahead of UN Summit on Biodiversity
Photo by Ryk Porras on Unsplash
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Four days of virtual discussions aimed to prepare for the UN Summit on Biodiversity, share information with CBD Parties, and reinvigorate the global discussion on biodiversity issues.

The fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook was launched, and the Co-Chairs of the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework updated participants on changes to the draft framework, among other issues.

The year 2020 was supposed to conclude with the adoption of a new ten-year set of global goals and targets to reverse the negative trend of biodiversity loss. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several negotiation sessions and the meeting during which the post-2020 global biodiversity framework was expected to be adopted – the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15) – have been postponed until 2021. A key event on the 2020 agenda remains on the sustainable development calendar, albeit in a virtual format: the UN Summit on Biodiversity.

To prepare for this meeting, share information with CBD Parties, and reinvigorate the global discussion on biodiversity issues, the CBD Secretariat organized a series of online sessions from 15-18 September 2020. The sessions were conducted under the guidance of the Chairs of the 24th meeting of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI). 

The fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook was launched on the first day of the virtual sessions. This flagship report provided a final report card on progress against the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which were adopted by CBD Parties in 2010 and meant to be achieved by 2020. The report examines progress and prospects for interdependent transitions by 2050 related to eight areas: Land and Forests; Freshwater; Fisheries and Oceans; Sustainable Agriculture; Food Systems; Cities and Infrastructure; Climate Action; and One Health. The report suggests pursuing a “portfolio of actions” to:

  • enhance conservation and restoration of ecosystems;
  • mitigate climate change;
  • take action on pollution, invasive alien species, and overexploitation;
  • move towards more sustainable production of goods and services; and
  • reduce consumption and waste. 

On the second and third days, five countries presented reports on their implementation efforts, in an exercise to test a process for conducting party-led reviews of implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This test was organized to support the effort to develop an enhanced review mechanism in the context of COP 15 and the post-2020 biodiversity framework.

Also on the third day, participants discussed a report from the Expert Panel on Resource Mobilization, which has identified challenges, including the presence of subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity, a lack of mainstreaming, a failure to address the private sector and other financial mechanisms, and a lack of priority for biodiversity outside environment ministries.

On the final day, the Co-Chairs of the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, Basile van Havre and Francis Ogwal, provided an update on the zero draft of the framework. The Co-Chairs reported that the draft includes a new goal on means of implementation, milestones to ensure progress, and a deadline of 2030 for each target, among other changes. A target on the recovery and conservation of wild flora and fauna was added as well.

The UN Summit on Biodiversity is taking place as part of the opening weeks of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 75), with a high-level dialogue on the the theme, ‘Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development’. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of Biodiversity Virtual Sessions][Meeting documents]

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