Meeting in person after two and a half years of virtual discussions, negotiators reconvened in Geneva, Switzerland, to “prepare the foundations” for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China, later this year. The Kunming Biodiversity Conference is expected to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), replacing the Aichi Targets, the “vast majority” of which have not been met.
The CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), and Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (WG2020) convened from 14-29 March 2022. The triple meeting brought together some 2,000 onsite and online participants.
According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the conference, “work on the GBF progressed, albeit slowly,” with “significant input” on the GBF targets and goals, and on relevant indicators. The discussions on digital sequence information on genetic resources – “one of the most heated and controversial discussions in the CBD” – agreed on a way forward and a schedule of intersessional work.
Another noteworthy achievement is that references to the role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) are included throughout the proposed text. The involvement of IPLCs, “who are both the most strongly affected by biodiversity loss, and biodiversity’s most important guardians,” “will be crucial during the implementation of the GBF,” the ENB analysis of the conference notes.
According to the ENB analysis, “despite its many problems, the current GBF draft reaches across almost all aspects of sustainable development, ensuring that it will be able to support other aspects of environmental governance.” However, in the words of one delegate, “there is absolutely no time to waste,” and “much is needed in terms of intersessional work.”
The CBD subsidiary bodies adopted a number of recommendations and decisions to be forwarded to COP 15. These address, among other issues, the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, the programme of work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), synthetic biology, invasive alien species, the monitoring framework for the GBF, financial resources and means of implementation, and capacity building and development. An important gain is the SBI’s finalization of the Gender Plan of Action as women’s “involvement in GBF actions will be crucial to mainstreaming biodiversity conservation across societies.”
Many of the issues advanced at the Geneva Biodiversity Conference contribute to the advancement of SDGs 15 (life on land) and 14 (life below water), as well as to SDGs 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals) – the five Goals the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will review progress on in July. The HLPF takes place two weeks after the conclusion of a fourth meeting of the WG2020, scheduled from 21-26 June 2022, in Nairobi, Kenya. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin Meeting Coverage]