The UN Biodiversity Conference, which will convene from 5-17 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada, is expected to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The fourth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework yielded progress on several issues, including green and blue spaces for urban areas, non-financial elements of resource mobilization, and sharing of benefits from digital sequence information on genetic resources.
The Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), charged by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with developing a “new set of global goals and targets to guide parties towards a nature-positive future,” achieved progress on several issues, including unanimous agreement on the framework’s relationship with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Much work remains, however, and parties supported convening an additional negotiating session ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference in December, which is expected to adopt the GBF.
Established by the 14th meeting of the CBD COP (COP 14), the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (WG2020) initially received a mandate to hold three meetings to deliberate the GBF. Following a number of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates agreed to convene a fourth meeting “to finalize the goals and targets of a highly evolved GBF draft and release a final draft for adoption” by the COP at its 15th meeting. The WG2020’s fourth meeting convened in hybrid format in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21-26 June 2022.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) analysis of the meeting notes that “[d]egraded ecosystems are much more than a matter of aesthetics or of moral responsibility in terms of biodiversity stewardship. Ecosystem services provided by nature are crucial for long-term survival of humans and other species of fauna and flora, and indisputable scientific evidence agrees that the path we are on leads to self-destruction.”
The 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its 20 Aichi Targets, which the world had failed to achieve, expired in 2020. There since has been “a vacuum in nature conservation.” The purpose of the GBF is to help achieve the 2050 Vision for the CBD and find “the path to a new world, where humans live in harmony with nature.”
As per the ENB summary, in addition to agreement on the relationship with the 2030 Agenda, WG2020’s fourth meeting was able to achieve:
- consensus paragraphs on Target 12 on green and blue spaces for urban areas;
- consensus on Target 19.2 on non-financial elements of resource mobilization; and
- charting a new pathway for an agreement on sharing of benefits from digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources.
Co-Chair Francis Ogwal characterized progress on the latter issue as “a testament of what we can achieve when we are committed to finding common ground.” DSI is “the result of sequencing genomes or proteins, deciphering the genetic material found in an organism or virus.” It creates opportunities to advance progress in a number of areas, including ecosystem research, plant and animal breeding, plant pest management, invasive species regulation, and drug and vaccine development. Arrangements for benefit-sharing from the use of DSI “will be necessary for continued open access to such information and the full realization of the technology’s potential,” the ENB analysis highlights.
Acknowledging that a lot of work still needs to be done to reach agreement on the GBF, delegates welcomed the announcement of a proposed three-day fifth meeting of the WG2020 as they felt it would allow them to advance work on the most contested targets and to iron out the text on targets close to being agreed.
CBD COP 15 was originally scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, in October 2020, but got postponed several times due to the pandemic. On 18 August 2021, the CBD Secretariat announced that COP 15 would take place in two parts. The first part convened in a virtual format, from 11-15 October 2021. The second part of COP 15 was expected to convene face-to-face in Kunming. After several date changes, it was decided that the conference will convene from 5-17 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. [ENB Coverage of the WG2020 Fourth Meeting]