IISD Reporting Services IISD

Ninth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity

Volume 88 Number 18 | Monday, 8 July 2019

Summary of the 9th Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity

1-5 July 2019 | Trondheim, Norway

Languages: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Trondheim, Norway at: http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/trondheimconference/9/

Held under the theme “Making biodiversity matter: Knowledge and know-how for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework,” the ninth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity provided an opportunity for decision makers and experts from around the world to informally discuss key issues related to the global biodiversity framework being developed as a follow up to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (post-2020 framework). The Conference aimed to support the process established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), by facilitating a shared understanding of key knowledge areas, and helping to ensure that the process for developing the post-2020 framework is knowledge-based, just, and inclusive.

The Conference featured: presentations on a series of themes, including on key findings from recent assessments, on increasing action on biodiversity and ecosystem services as an asset for sustainability in other sectors, and on developing the post-2020 framework; and interactive exercises, including on pathways for the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity of “Living in harmony with nature.” Conference Co-Chairs Nina Vik and Finn Katerås, Norwegian Environment Agency, produced a draft report with conclusions and recommendations, which will be finalized in the weeks following the Conference on the basis of participants’ input, and will be forwarded to relevant processes, including the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 framework.

Held from 2-5 July in Trondheim, Norway, the Conference was the largest in its history, with more than 450 invited participants. It was organized by the Government of Norway, in partnership with the CBD Secretariat, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) as a patron.

Following the opening session of the Conference on Tuesday, a high-level meeting for invited guests was held in parallel, hosted by Ola Elvestuen, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway.

A Brief History of the Trondheim Conferences on Biodiversity

Since 1993, the Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity has sought to enhance cross-sectorial dialogue on biodiversity research and management, and to establish the best possible scientific basis for policy and management decisions in relation to the CBD implementation. The Conference has focused on the multi-dimensional nature of CBD implementation, and has recognized the relevance of biodiversity-related issues for sustainable development.

The first Trondheim Conference, held in May 1993, provided scientific inputs to the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of signatories to the CBD. The second Conference, held in July 1996, focused on invasive alien species, and contributed to the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the development of the Global Invasive Species Programme. The third Conference, held in September 1999, discussed the ecosystem approach for the sustainable use of biodiversity, and provided inputs to SBSTTA 5 and to discussions leading to the adoption of the operational guidance and principles on the ecosystem approach at the CBD’s fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP). The fourth Conference, held in June 2003, focused on technology transfer and capacity building. It informed SBSTTA 9 and the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building.

The fifth Conference, held in November 2007, discussed biodiversity’s role in sustainable development and how it contributes to poverty alleviation, as well as highlighted progress towards the CBD’s 2010 target of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss and reaching relevant Millennium Development Goals. The sixth Conference, held in February 2010, discussed the status of, and lessons learned from, the CBD 2010 target and post-2010 targets setting, including emerging issues and challenges for addressing drivers of biodiversity loss. The seventh Conference, held in May 2013, focused on the first goal of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, on addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society. The eighth Conference, held in May-June 2016, focused on the interlinkages between biodiversity and agriculture to develop food systems for a sustainable future.

Report of the Meeting

Opening Session

On Tuesday, 2 July, Ellen Hambro, Director-General, Norwegian Environment Agency, welcomed more than 450 delegates, noting this represents the highest level of participation in the Trondheim Biodiversity Conferences.

Ola Lund Renolen, Deputy Mayor of Trondheim, highlighted the city’s work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and called for action to implement commitments at the local level. 

Henrik Olsen, Sámi Parliament of Norway, stressed nature’s less rapid decline on areas traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples, noting however that increasing pressures on nature correspond to challenges for livelihoods and traditional knowledge transmission. Drawing attention to the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which emphasizes the relevance of traditional knowledge for the entire society, he called for indigenous peoples’eoples’’ basis of participants’ation and Forest Degradation (n Developing  be ork. nd PBES reports, she called for involvement  involvement in all biodiversity-related processes.

Ola Elvestuen, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway, called for system-wide transformative change to halt the global decline of nature. He encouraged participants to be “curious, open minded and creative,” and hoped that the conference would foster common understanding and achieve an ambitious path forward. Elvestuen lauded “impressive initiatives” from Canada, following the Nature Champions Summit, and France, under the G7 Presidency, and emphasized that the post-2020 framework has to be more effective than the Aichi targets.

Maria Claudia García, Vice Minister of Environmental Policies and Normalization, Colombia, emphasized responsible global leadership to halt biodiversity decline and loss of ecosystem services, noting that there is still time to reverse this trend and transition to sustainable pathways. She announced that Colombia will host the third session of the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 framework in July 2020.

Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia, highlighted biodiversity conservation efforts in her country, pointing to: the designation of more than 51 million hectares of protected areas; targets to recover 25 endangered species; and regulations for green road construction in forests. She noted challenges, including illegal wildlife trade, explaining that more than 600 cases have been prosecuted and around 200,000 live animals confiscated. Bakar emphasized the need to mobilize new financial resources, including through natural capital accounting and payments for ecosystem services. Participants then watched a short video on biodiversity conservation efforts in Indonesia.

Zhai Qing, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, noted the country’s efforts to curb biodiversity loss and achieve the Aichi targets, and invited all stakeholders to actively participate in “The Sharm El-Sheikh to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People” towards a realistic post-2020 framework echoing and reinforcing the SDGs. He noted that China has promoted biodiversity mainstreaming and is willing to share its experience, as well as to listen to stakeholders’ views.

Cristiana Paşca Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary, highlighted that the Trondheim Conferences have brought vision and cooperation over the years. Noting that biodiversity loss is gaining political attention, she called for stakeholders’ commitments through the platform created under the Sharm El-Sheikh to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People. Regarding the post-2020 framework, she presented milestones in the process and opportunities to build political momentum, and called for a high level of ambition to reduce drivers of biodiversity loss, and for transformative solutions from a systems perspective.

Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), presented on IPBES assessments, including the thematic one on pollinators and the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. She noted responses to the assessments, including development of national legislation, an unprecedented number of scientific articles and press coverage, and growing societal engagement. She further drew attention to IPBES’s innovative conceptual framework, and a new approach to recognize and work with indigenous and local knowledge.

Johan Rockström, University of Potsdam, presented on the interconnected biodiversity and climate challenges, highlighting the “real risk of tipping over to a Hothouse Earth” because of losing the resilience related to the marine and terrestrial ecosystems functioning as carbon sinks. Looking at aspirational goals for the future, he demonstrated how climate and biodiversity goals correspond to each other, adding that, by 2050, “for the first time in history the aspirational goals must be zero,” meaning no emissions and no biodiversity loss. He concluded by stating the overall aim is for prosperity and equity within a stable and resilient Earth system.

Setting the Stage – Understanding Where We Are Heading and What This Implies

This session was held on Tuesday, chaired by Ivar Baste, Norway.

Sandra Díaz, Córdoba National University, Argentina, and Eduardo Sonnewend Brondizio, Indiana University, US, presented on the findings of the IPBES Global Assessment. Stressing that the interdependence between nature and human wellbeing is absent from policy decisions, Sandra Díaz highlighted that 35 out of 44 SDGs show negative trends and only four out of the 20 Aichi targets show moderately good progress, and urged for goals oriented towards the root causes of biodiversity loss. Eduardo Sonnewend Brondizio expressed hope that the IPBES Global Assessment will be used as the knowledge basis to bend the curve of biodiversity loss, as well as address inequalities in development. He urged for aspiring toward scenarios at the national and global level that can bring transformative change, recognizing indigenous knowledge and values, and stressed the need for: inclusive and informed governance systems; cross-sectoral planning; and a change in narrative that promotes sustainability values.

Jeff Price, University of East Anglia, UK, also on behalf of co-author Rachel Warren, presented key findings relevant to biodiversity and ecosystem services from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. He stressed that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible, but requires unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, and substantiated the clear benefits of keeping warming to 1.5°C, compared to 2°C or higher, for natural and human systems. He further addressed: interactions of adaptation with mitigation, noting potential conflicts; reasons for concern regarding selected natural, managed, and human systems; and interlinkages between mitigation and sustainable development. Noting that regional climatic changes have already affected hydrological systems and terrestrial and marine ecosystems in many parts of the world, he drew attention to increased peer-reviewed literature on the interactions between climate change and biodiversity, confirming the accuracy of previous projections of change.

Irene Hoffmann, Secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), presented the key findings of the report on the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, including that:

  • biodiversity is indispensable for food security;
  • biodiversity for food and agriculture is in decline, affected by major global trends; and
  • enabling frameworks for sustainable use and conservation are insufficient and need to be strengthened.

She highlighted need for action on, among others: addressing knowledge and data gaps; supporting biodiversity-friendly management practices in all sectors; and improving cross-sectoral collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement in the management of biodiversity for food and agriculture.

Izabella Teixeira, Co-Chair, International Resource Panel, presented on the key findings of the Global Resources Outlook report. She recognized the increased use of biomass as a main driver for biodiversity loss, and indicated that the inclusion of business leaders to reach a common understanding and achieve goals collaboratively with policy makers is of paramount importance.

Jake Rice, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, showcased the main findings of the World Ocean Assessment. He underscored the lack of attention to the ocean as a provider of human security and health, and noted the importance of the assessment in changing the governance model for the ocean, allowing biodiversity and ecosystem services to receive the prioritization they need. He explained that using the ocean more sustainably is possible, stressing the need to invest in gaining the benefits of local communities’ knowledge, as well as strengthening and implementing existing policies.

Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, presented perspectives from UNEP on developing the post-2020 framework. She stressed that ecosystems are a key ingredient for achieving the SDGs in a world of climate change, and shared key messages, including the need for:

  • a greater level of ambition on quantitative targets, for instance on Aichi Target 11 on protected areas, as well as a combination of quantitative targets with qualitative elements of the areas under protection;
  • moving beyond measuring percentages, to engage other sectors, in particular agriculture;
  • a paradigm shift, including through inviting other sectors to be part of the solution, acknowledging planetary boundaries, and reflecting nature in national accounts; and
  • work by the scientific community on a scale that could deliver an apex target and inspire action.

Setting the Stage – Further Developing the Vision of Where We Need to Be

Held on Tuesday afternoon, and chaired by Conference Co-Chair Nina Vik, the session began with cultural performance “Dialogus Arctica,” a visual and audio presentation aiming to communicate what is happening in the Arctic. The session focused on the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity on “Living in harmony with nature.”

David Nabarro, Imperial College London, UK, and co-facilitator for the nature-based solutions workstream for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, called for focus on people and in particular future generations and indigenous peoples, and showcased interlinkages between nature protection and health, food security and nutrition, and climate change. Noting how investing in nature can contribute to emissions reductions, and improve food security, rural employment, and resilience, he called for transformation to tackle a planetary emergency, and for putting nature at the heart of climate change debates. 

Noting that the 2050 Vision is aspirational, robust and achievable, Mike Barrett, World Wildlife Fund UK, stressed that bending the curve of biodiversity loss could be the apex target for biodiversity. Highlighting the need for increasing abundance of nature, avoiding further loss of diversity, and increasing the quality and extent of habitats, he called for cross-cutting solutions, with the food and agriculture system at the center. He stressed a new deal for people and nature urgently requires: safeguarding natural spaces; making production and consumption sustainable; and stopping the loss of species and the diversity of life.

Participants then engaged in roundtable discussions on achieving the 2050 Vision. Facilitator Natasha Walker underscored that actionable targets are required, and urged participants to come up with storylines for potential pathways towards the 2050 Vision that can be translated into action.

Piero Visconti, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, explained that the discussions will focus on constructing pathways to bend the biodiversity curve, cautioning against “business as usual” practices. He urged participants to break down the 2050 Vision into concrete desired outcomes, and highlighted that different preferences could emerge, emphasizing various aspects of people’s relationship with nature. He called for considering various opportunities to drive positive change without forgetting any actors.

Upon conclusion of the roundtable discussions, Walker highlighted different pathways put forward by participants, including: the sustainable management of natural capital by all sectors; transforming agri-food systems via subsidy reforms and increased supply chain transparency; maximizing areas for nature in and around cities; empowerment of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs); the clear communication of science to policy makers; and a common approach in decision making on various SDGs resulting in the creation of a shared understanding of synergies and trade-offs.

Achieving Change - Moving Away from Business as Usual

Held on Wednesday, this session was chaired by Malta Qwathekana, South Africa. Pepik Henneman with colleagues from the Meneer de Leeuw lab, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, presented on transformational and systemic change, calling for creativity and bold ideas and for use of a transition lens to “make the unusual usual.” They stressed the need to focus on the desired future rather than the problem.

Peter White, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, presented perspectives from the private sector. He drew attention to the creation of a “business for nature” coalition, which aims to amplify a united business voice to help ensure the world is on track to halt the loss of nature by 2030 and on course to restore the planet’s vital systems. Noting that nature underpins the delivery of most SDGs, he highlighted the need for: a strong business narrative; simple communication messages; building nature into standard business practices, such as accounting and insurance; and an overarching target and economic framework including incentives.

Sol Ortiz García, Mexico, also on behalf of Hesiquio Benitez, showcased biodiversity mainstreaming as a key strategy for achieving change. She stressed that the elements needed for mainstreaming biodiversity are many, and highlighted the importance of reciprocal mainstreaming among sectors. She highlighted collaboration between the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) and the agricultural sector in Mexico, via production incentives that avoid damage to protected areas and expansion of the agricultural frontier. She stressed the need for strong partnerships and for political will as pivotal for initiating action.

Bob Scholes, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, presented on the findings of the IPBES Thematic Assessment on land degradation and restoration, which also included alternative information sources, such as indigenous knowledge. He pointed to land degradation as the biggest environmental challenge, and explained how it is linked to several other challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss. Stressing the societal benefits of restoration, he highlighted the connections between land degradation, restoration, and achievement of most SDGs.

Bernardo Strassburg, International Institute for Sustainability (IIS), outlined a strategic approach to restoration planning in Brazil, including the designation of 12 million hectares for mandatory restoration in 2014. He explained that from 2013-2017, IIS coordinated a multidisciplinary team to develop tools to identify priority areas for restoration and quantify their impacts, and that this methodology was applied at the global level, identifying 2.9 billion hectares of restorable lands. He presented maps depicting global priority restoration areas focusing on biodiversity and on carbon, emphasizing the need for multiple restoration goals to maximize biodiversity and minimize costs.

Drawing on examples from multilateral processes, Aleksandar Rankovic, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), noted that the post-2020 framework should focus on creating the best possible conditions for domestic implementation. Highlighting the Paris Agreement, he explained that it focuses on carbon neutrality, and that it creates the conditions and political dynamics for continuous discussion aimed at better outcomes. On ozone protection, he said the process is centered on the main drivers, actors, and causality and that there are fewer actors, as well as industrialized country champions. Rankovic observed that the IPBES Global Assessment helps to identify priorities for biodiversity, and called for action in the agriculture and food sector in both land and sea, encouraging coalitions of champions around key drivers of biodiversity loss. He highlighted the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund under the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, as a good example for mobilizing finance.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed: whether it is ethically correct to approach socio-ecological problems as business opportunities; how to turn businesses into responsible and accountable actors; transition plans that go beyond biodiversity to address harmful incentives; and factors to determine priority areas for restoration.

Achieving Change - Biodiversity as Part of the Solution

Held on Wednesday, this session was chaired by Ivonne Higuero, Secretary General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Higuero stressed the importance of involving all biodiversity-related conventions and different sectors in developing a post-2020 framework.

Luc Bas, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), lamented the absence of nature-based solutions in climate change discussions, stating that land restoration is part of the solution. He urged for more investment in nature-based solutions and for a system that shows that these investments are fruitful. He showcased the Bonn Challenge on land restoration as an example of putting joint commitments on the table in the run-up to CBD COP 15 in Kunming, China.

Vera Agostini, FAO, presented on different examples of fisheries transitioning into more sustainable management regimes around the world. She noted that sustainability of fisheries rests on ecological, social, and economic pillars, and highlighted the importance of: scientific advice being welcomed by decision makers; stakeholder participation; political will; and governance structure in facilitating the way towards sustainability. 

Fabrice DeClerck, EAT Foundation, clarified that biodiversity should not be viewed as a target but a scalable solution, and described biodiversity as the “silver bullet” that encompasses many other processes. DeClerck emphasized engagement with the private sector in developing targets, and recognized the importance that stakeholders give to innovation.

Holger Robrecht, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability explained that ICLEI has embarked on a nature-based, development pathway, in addition to four other transformation pathways, and focuses on strong, local and regional strategies and action plans in response to national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs).

María Rivera, Ramsar Convention Secretariat, highlighted the role of wetlands in: supplying fresh water, directly or indirectly; sequestering carbon; providing livelihoods to over 600 million people; and providing habitat for 40% of the world’s species. She called for an integrated approach, which entails: linking biodiversity to water; including wetlands under nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement; and increasing cooperation among different national focal points, adding that the post-2020 framework provides a unique opportunity to approach biodiversity in a complimentary and cooperative manner.

Suneetha Subramanian, United Nations University International Institute for Global Health, discussed how ecosystem functioning is vital for ensuring health security, access to clean air and water, and species interaction, as well as the role and value of medicinal resources. Noting that infectious disease prevalence is linked to ecosystem disruption and highlighting the concept of eco-health, she called for linking social considerations to the biophysical environment through a set of institutions, and making the connection between health and biodiversity.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed: agricultural subsidies in Europe and the need to engage farmers; the poor’s dependence on natural resources for their livelihoods; mainstreaming at the local level; population growth and the need to maintain wellbeing standards in cities; the role of cultural heritage in promoting healthy diets; and local community participation in wetland management.

On the post-2020 framework, participants: called for identifying levers to achieve interconnected goals, and for ways to improve alignment of sectoral policies with CBD objectives; emphasized that just transition should be addressed; and stressed the need for the CBD to engage with ministries other than those which deal with the environment. One participant suggested the UN Security Council address the nature crisis.

Achieving Change - Building on Good Practice

Held on Wednesday and chaired by Conference Co-Chair Finn Katerås, this session included presentations in plenary, and small group discussions on good practices, on the basis of specific topics selected by the participants.

Anne Nuorgam, Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), presented on perspectives and insights from indigenous peoples on the post-2020 framework. She described indigenous peoples’ role in environmental conservation and drew attention to their marginalization, despite increased awareness of the importance of traditional knowledge at the international level. Nuorgam welcomed steps to include indigenous peoples in the development of the post-2020 framework and showcased country-specific examples where communities are involved in implementing initiatives for the protection of biodiversity. She urged for full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making processes at all levels and invited stakeholders to share best practices with the international community. 

Keping Ma, Chinese Academy of Sciences, presented on his country’s ecological conservation redlining (ECR) policy. He stressed the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity conservation under the guidance of China’s ecological civilization framework, through political engagement and infrastructure development. He explained that the delimitation of ECR areas results from overlaying maps of different protected areas and species habitats, and emphasized the need for “keeping an open mind” and engaging all stakeholders in the process.

Participants then met in small groups to share their experiences with focus on good practices, aiming to identify which changes need to happen and how, on the basis of successes and failures in the implementation of the Aichi targets. Several small groups discussed topics including: voluntary commitments; ecological connectivity; biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction; spatial targets; participatory approaches in species conservation; implementation of Aichi Target 18 on traditional knowledge; and experience with the voluntary peer-review under the CBD.

Developing the Global Biodiversity Framework – Building on the CBD Experience

This session was held on Thursday and was chaired by Asghar Fazel, ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Iran.

Francis Ogwal, Uganda, and Basile van Havre, Canada, Co-Chairs of the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 framework, presented on the ongoing consultation process and the Working Group’s goals, targets, and milestones. Noting that the process is on track, they drew attention to the concluded round of regional consultations and the key messages that emerged, including that the post-2020 framework should:

  • be well articulated and easy to communicate;
  • link the 2030 Mission to the 2050 Vision and the SDGs;
  • build on the current Strategic Plan and NBSAPs;
  • include specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) targets;
  • integrate the CBD protocols, and address synergies with other conventions and linkages with climate change;
  • address enablers, including means of implementation, tools such as environmental impact assessments, and legal aspects, such as stronger legal obligations or rights of nature; and
  • ensure improved reporting, review, and accountability.

Mphatso Martha Kalemba, Malawi, shared lessons learnt from efforts to implement the Aichi targets in the country. She noted that delayed development of the NBSAP affected timely implementation of the targets that require time and investment, such as restoration and mainstreaming, and shared challenges regarding establishing baselines, and implementing targets with unclear language. With regard to the post-2020 framework, she called for: clear targets; sufficient time and capacity building for national assessments before adoption; investment in enabling mechanisms; addressing indirect drivers of biodiversity loss; and focus on monitoring and review, and on strategic communication.

Katia Karousakis, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), drew attention to an ongoing OECD project on the post-2020 framework targets, indicators, and measurability implications at the global and national level. She noted difficulties in implementation emerging from: linguistic ambiguity; tracking progress in a consistent and comparable way across countries; and ensuring the uptake of an indicative list of indicators at the national level. Karousakis highlighted calls for smarter post-2020 targets to be developed in a more iterative manner, building on the effective elements of the existing framework, and added that existing multi-country datasets could provide guidance on indicators.

Verona Collantes-Lebale, UN-Women, presented on gender elements in the post-2020 framework. She pointed to calls for clearly linking the post-2020 framework to the SDGs, highlighting equal rights to resources, including land-related rights. She noted that, despite progress on gender equality, there is a “backlash” and uneven power relations, with implications on rights and control of resources. She also drew attention to expert recommendations that the post-2020 framework must be rights-based, inclusive, and gender responsive, and promote effective participation in biodiversity conservation.

During the ensuing discussion, questions were raised on: the role of the CBD subsidiary bodies vis-à-vis the Open-ended Working Group in determining the post-2020 framework; how the scientific community could help parties to define SMART and scalable targets; the feasibility of binding post-2020 targets; the meaning of transformative change; a resource mobilization goal; and developing a business plan for biodiversity.

Developing the Global Biodiversity Framework – Responding to Society Needs

Held on Thursday, this session was chaired by Teona Karchava, Georgia.

Norbert Baerlocher, Switzerland, presented the outcomes of the consultation workshop of the biodiversity-related conventions on the post-2020 framework (June 2019, Bern, Switzerland). He explained that the workshop aimed at engaging all processes, developing ownership for all participants, and helping to perceive the post-2020 framework not just as a CBD framework but as a global one. Highlighting the main issues discussed during the workshop, Malta Qwathekane, South Africa, noted that a common agenda is essential for halting biodiversity loss, called for taking into account the rapid pace of technological advancement, and called for the synchronization of reporting and monitoring. Baerlocher emphasized the lack of an overarching body to coordinate cooperation efforts, and urged parties to explore harmonization of their reporting cycles.

Hamdallah Zedan, Egypt, addressed the need for coherent implementation of the Rio Conventions in order to better address the interrelated challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation. Lauding the IPBES Global Assessment’s contribution to awareness-raising, he explained that science-based findings and interlinkages currently ignored need to be integrated in discussions. He indicated that the post-2020 framework can help foster a coherent implementation through collaborative work between focal points.

Kerstin Stendahl, IPCC Secretariat, presented on strategies and strategy processes in other sectors where there are biodiversity-related impacts and dependencies, with a focus on the IPCC and the chemicals and waste cluster. She provided an overview of: work under the IPCC sixth assessment, noting that linkages between biodiversity and climate change will probably be addressed in the synthesis report. She also highlighted the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, which addresses pollution as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss as one of its possible decision points for post-2020 chemicals management; and joint activities under the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions.

Akanksha Khatri, World Economic Forum (WEF) Centre for Global Public Goods, drew attention to WEF’s 2019 Global Risks Report, which shows that societal and environmental risks are among those with the highest impact and highest likelihood of occurring. Noting that current approaches are not delivering global sustainability, she urged moving from a project-oriented to a platform approach. She highlighted examples of public-private platforms, including the Tropical Forest Alliance and the Friends of Ocean Action, with the latter catalyzing the creation of the Global Plastics Action Partnership, and presented Nature Action Agenda, a WEF platform for public-private cooperation that aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2030. Participants then watched a WEF video depicting the nature emergency.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, among other issues: avoiding different sets of targets under the SDGs and the post-2020 framework; the importance of national-level coordination; the implications of new technologies, the need for transparency and a conversation on ethics and values, and the WEF’s Global Futures Council; limitations in research funding, needs for investment in research, and ethical considerations regarding private sector funding; and the importance of public pressure for government action.

Developing the Global Biodiversity framework – Identifying What we Need to Achieve the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity

On Thursday afternoon, participants engaged in an interactive exercise on the post-2020 framework and what is needed to achieve the 2050 Vision, facilitated by Natasha Walker. Introducing the exercise, Neville Ash elaborated on possible ingredients for the post-2020 framework, including: vision and mission; review and accounting mechanisms; implementation mechanisms and enablers; and integration with the agendas of other multilateral environmental agreements. He also highlighted the need to address the overall structure of the framework, as well as targets relating to outcomes, benefits, drivers, and enablers.

Participants met in small groups to address these elements in the context of selected topics, including: sustainable production and consumption; mainstreaming; sustainable use; food and agriculture; protected areas; and marine issues. They then shared ideas emerging from the small group discussions.

On the vision and mission, participants highlighted the need for: an inclusive and holistic approach; recognizing the contributions of indigenous peoples; and building a new relationship between people and nature. On review and accountability, they called for: a stronger peer review process; few key indicators; better alignment of global reporting; and transparency and milestones. On implementation mechanisms and enablers, participants prioritized: technology transfer; engagement of multiple sectors; environmental safeguards; indigenous peoples’ involvement; focus on harmful subsidies; and redirecting available resources.

On consumption and production patterns, participants addressed: reducing individual footprint; addressing chemicals and hazardous waste; traceability through blockchain technology; equity and sustainability by 2030; incentives; and awareness-raising.

On mainstreaming, participants addressed: the need to promote positive incentives; understanding obstacles to mainstreaming; governance and legal frameworks; participation and stakeholder engagement; and implementation of national policies.

Discussions on sustainable use focused on: equitable stakeholder participation; indicators; governance arrangements to facilitate implementation; a target for reducing the number of overexploited species; and exploring the meaning of sustainable use.

Discussions on food and agriculture addressed: consumption and impacts of production on biodiversity; pesticides; the role of consumers and their willingness to pay higher food prices; increasing production in a sustainable manner and diversifying food systems; biodiversity-friendly practices, the role of traditional farming and new technologies; and livelihoods, including subsistence farming. Sustainable agriculture targets were considered for 2030, as well as legislation on security of tenure for smallholder farmers. Incentives were also discussed, as well as monitoring, reporting, and compliance.

On protected areas, participants discussed: enabling governments to “dare to do the right thing”; monitoring and effective community-based management, with adequate and sustainable funding and community rights; and ensuring representativeness of protected area networks. Participants further suggested: including marine ecosystems as a stand-alone, as well as cross-cutting, component in the post-2020 framework; developing a space or platform to address the disconnect between marine issues at the national, regional, and global levels; and further developing marine indicators.

Promoting and Facilitating Action

Held on Friday, this session was chaired by Jane Smart, IUCN, who stressed the need for increased clarity on the post-2020 framework and its targets, noting the opportunity for alignment with the SDGs.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, noted the failure of meeting the Aichi targets, stating that 144 times more money is invested in deforestation than protecting nature. He stressed the need for: phasing out harmful investments and incentives; open and transparent objectives regarding resource mobilization to financially support the new framework; and aligning public and private investments with NBSAPs as a mechanism to implement the post-2020 framework. He explained that in order to avoid “hitting a wall of technical reality” while developing a new framework, a series of issues need to be addressed urgently, including: stopping the logging of primary forests; imposing a carbon tax; phasing out single-use plastic; and putting an end to the trade of endangered species.

Sudhanshu Sarronwala, WWF International, stressed the need to “make nature matter” and engage one billion people, as we head toward a post-2020 framework. He highlighted a WWF study examining consumer mindsets in ten developing countries, where half the people believe that biodiversity is declining, but only 40% see biodiversity and nature as an important source of raw materials for the economy; and only one third associate biodiversity with basic necessities such as food and fresh water. Emphasizing the need to communicate in a way that resonates, Sarronwala explained that only 3% of those surveyed valued biodiversity and nature for its aesthetics. He also discussed forging partnerships, mobilizing the NGO community, and building business coalitions to establish the “new normal,” emphasizing the power of emotive storytelling.

Alice Durand-Reville, Danone, declared that the “food system is broken,” due to cheap, abundant food, standardized supply chains, and agribusiness focus on volume rather than value. Highlighting how targets are influencing business, she explained that in 2015, Danone committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 throughout its whole value chain, which entails rethinking products and energy consumption. She noted that a similar strategy is now in place for biodiversity, beginning with agriculture and involving taking bold commitments to decrease pesticides and fertilizers, and increase crop diversity. She called for specific targets, which can be translated into action, noting that consumers are key for gaining traction.

Joji Cariño, Forest Peoples Programme, presented on the contributions of IPLCs to CBD implementation, and lessons shared through the Local Biodiversity Outlooks. She highlighted key findings, including the need to: translate policy commitments on traditional knowledge and sustainable customary use into programmes and projects; recognize customary land tenure; and counter the rise of assassinations of environmental and human rights defenders. She showcased community-based mapping and monitoring efforts and tools, and called for a permanent body on traditional knowledge as part of the post-2020 framework.

Christian Schwarzer, Germany, and Melina Sakiyama, Brazil, Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) presented on GYBN involvement in the CBD processes and urged addressing overproduction and consumption, global inequalities, and murders of environmental defenders. Pointing to youth street protests for climate and nature, they called for a focus on values, not quick technological fixes, and for meaningful participation of youth in the post-2020 process. They delivered a “youth challenge” for: governments, to connect with marginalized groups; business, to check its hidden impacts; academia, to truly collaborate with indigenous peoples and local communities; and NGOs, to consider whether their work is maintaining the status quo.

Closing Session

Friday’s closing session was co-chaired by Conference Co-Chairs Nina Vik and Finn Katerås.

Conference Rapporteur Jerry Harrison, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), presented the draft Co-Chairs’ summary report, explaining that the document incorporated key elements of the presentations and discussions under a consistent narrative, and welcomed feedback from the participants.

Participants highlighted, inter alia: the lack of balance between attention given to new targets and pathways and resources to implement existing commitments; the importance of regional cooperation; the need to address linkages between sustainable biodiversity management and development; including networking at all levels as part of biodiversity conservation; making actions needed to deliver global outcomes clearer through quantified science-based targets; the inclusion of ecosystem functions in conjunction with ecosystem services as part of the transformative change needed; and incorporation of the youth agenda.

Drawing on a bus analogy, Jamison Ervin, UNDP, discussed required capacities for addressing the planetary crisis, noting the need to “use brakes,” make a turn to bend the curve, as well as manage and brace for impact. Citing various Equator Prize winners, she highlighted the need for developing capacities to: replicate; scale-up; transform supply chains; tell a good story; unleash private sector capital; create a planetary safety net; and buffer the most vulnerable.

On resource mobilization, Mark Zimsky, GEF, explained that the GEF is trying to mobilize finance at the national level from new partners and is proactively engaging the private sector. He noted that GEF 7 programming has been reoriented to address the systemic and underlying drivers of biodiversity loss, adding that a two-track investment strategy is focusing on: cities; sustainable forest management; and food systems, land use and restoration. Zimsky outlined GEF’s incentives, aimed at encouraging countries to move towards transformation pathways, and mentioned an open funding window for natural capital accounting. In terms of leveraging the private sector, he pointed to a non-grant instrument involving blended finance, to reduce risk and encourage investment in projects which would not normally be attractive.

Presenting on research needs to achieve transformational change, Meriem Bouamrane, Man and the Biosphere Programme, UNESCO, highlighted: the contribution of culture and of diverse knowledge and value systems; the role of education and life-learning processes; the need for countries to have endogenous research and monitoring capacities; interdependency between biodiversity and development issues; and the need to address urban issues. Noting that the way research questions are defined is essential for common understanding, she called for inclusive problem and communication framing, and for multidisciplinary efforts, research funding, and co-production of knowledge to contribute to the post-2020 framework.

CBD Open-ended Working Group Co-Chairs Francis Ogwal and Basile van Havre noted that the post-2020 framework will be developed on the basis of a solid scientific foundation, the current Strategic Plan, and the existing structure related to NBSAPs and reporting. With regard to new elements, they addressed the need to: involve new sectors, and engage with non-state and economic actors; consider new factors such as population change, food and agriculture, human health, deforestation, and restoration; and integrate new responses, such as landscape management. They identified as critical components: resource mobilization; linkages with the SDGs; coordination with other conventions; clarity in communication; and an improved reporting system.

Conference Co-Chairs Nina Vik and Finn Katerås announced that all conference outputs, including the Co-Chairs’ report and PowerPoint presentations, will be available on the conference webpage. They expressed the hope that the Conference provided knowledge, friendships, inspiration, and motivations to participants, and invited them to provide their impressions and evaluation in the coming weeks.

Closing the Conference, Ellen Hambro stressed that the scientific basis has never been bolder, and the biodiversity crisis never higher on the global agenda. She urged reaching out to other sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, energy, and transport, and expressed her appreciation to all participants for their enthusiasm and dedication. She closed the Conference at 1:00 pm.

High-Level Meeting

Following the opening session of the Trondheim Conference on Tuesday, a high-level meeting with invited guests was held in parallel. Hosted by Ola Elvestuen, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway, the meeting focused on the post-2020 framework. It included sessions on biodiversity financing and implementation of the post-2020 framework, and a roundtable multi-stakeholder dialogue on ambitions and actions. In the evening, participants to a high-level dinner discussed issues related to reducing deforestation from globally traded agricultural commodities.

Opening the meeting, Ola Elvestuen stressed the need for investments to transition to a green economy and for reforms to economic and financial systems to achieve the SDGs. He emphasized moving towards a circular economy and called for eliminating harmful subsidies.

Biodiversity Financing and Implementation of the Post-2020 Framework

Moderator Neville Ash, UNEP-WCMC, stressed the need for greater ambition on resource mobilization for biodiversity, pointing to USD 10-30 trillion attributed as the cost of inaction and growing evidence of a “massive imbalance in financing.”

Highlighting current challenges, Gustavo Fonseca, GEF, noted that: resource mobilization at the national level is stagnant; the Aichi targets are not being met; protected areas are being degazetted, downsized and degraded; and environmental degradation drivers are increasing. He explained that the GEF has the potential, as well as limitations, to bridge the finance gap, and is seeking to leverage more financing for biodiversity by improving investment approaches that address key drivers of biodiversity loss, as well as creating incentives for countries on how to use GEF resources to generate multiple environmental benefits. Noting that agriculture is the primary driver of biodiversity loss, he highlighted the Food Systems and Land Use Restoration Programme, and emphasized de-risking for the private sector and the need for national green financing instruments.

Anthony Cox, OECD, noted that the key to resolving the finance challenge lies in a range of portfolios, breaking down silos, and achieving policy coherence. He presented the OECD’s “Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action,” prepared for the French G7 Presidency. Outlining challenges, he explained that biodiversity funding is diffuse, smaller in scale, and more difficult to identify in public and private accounts. He explained that the G7 proposed creation of a multi-stakeholder advisory group on biodiversity business and finance, pointing out that appropriate spending is as important as scaling up finance. He further noted that payments for ecosystem services and environment-related taxes are underutilized, and that framework targets need to be quantifiable, viable, provable, and implementable, and have a clearer link to finance.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, drew attention to disparities in funding for biodiversity, where, for example, more money is spent on feeding pets than in saving nature. He questioned why agriculture ministers are not part of the conversation, when agriculture is responsible for 80% of biodiversity loss. He advocated revisiting Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), stressing thatUSD 5 per tonne for offsetting carbon is “unacceptable” and will not prevent deforestation, and proposed that developing countries be included in carbon price-setting criteria discussions.

Svenja Schulz, Minister of Environment, Germany, noted that the agriculture sector sees nature from a business perspective, emphasizing the need for binding rules and standards, and for credit lines, investment products and insurance, noting that sustainability opens new opportunities to business for creating value.

María Claudia García, Vice Minister of Environmental Policies and Normalization, Colombia, emphasized financing as a priority in the post-2020 framework, stressing the need to make the link to climate change and to mobilize a specific amount of finance per year. She highlighted work under the High-Level Panel on the Global Assessment of Resources for implementing the current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, and discussed national financing initiatives and incentives. 

Christina Voigt, University of Oslo, Norway, outlined how the post-2020 biodiversity framework could draw inspiration from the Paris Agreement and increase ambition over time, through a repetitive and catalytical process.

In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed: rethinking economic and finance models in order to integrate natural capital value; increasing public visibility of effective investments to influence consumer preferences; and enhancing private sector involvement through corporate social responsibility and performance awards. The need for the biodiversity community to speak the language of conservation and finance and demonstrate the value of nature-based solutions was also raised. Participants agreed on the need for implementable and achievable targets and mobilizing political will. The role of agricultural subsidies as biodiversity loss drivers was highlighted, as well as the contribution that fiscal incentives could make. There were calls for enhancing transparency through eco-labelling, and for a realistic and practical mechanism for financing the post-2020 framework.

Multi-stakeholder Dialogue: Ambitions and Actions for the Post-2020 Framework

Moderated by Dominic Waughray, WEF, the session included keynote presentations, followed by a dialogue conducted under Chatham House rules.

Zhai Qing, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, emphasized the importance of multi-stakeholder participation in the post-2020 framework, which should establish metrics and quantifiable, evaluable, and implementable targets, calling for innovation in design.

Fabrice DeClerck, EAT Foundation, highlighted food as the number one driver of biodiversity loss but also a solution, emphasizing the need to change the way it is produced. He advocated maintaining 50% of land intact for biodiversity conservation, halving food waste and loss, as well as combining conservation action with supply and demand side interventions.

Carlos Nobre, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, pointed out that deforestation in the Amazon is more urgent than previously thought, adding that disruption solutions are required for the global economy. Reflecting on scenarios that would exceed or reach the tipping point of 20-25% deforestation, he pointed out that the duration of dry season is increasing and that, if it extends more than four months, impacts will be irreversible. He discussed the economic potential of a bio-economy, explaining that low profitability from cattle and soy is accelerating the push towards logging. He observed that the Acai berry is seven times more profitable than soy and benefits many more people, but that mainstreaming this bio-economy model is still challenging, calling for accelerating disruptive solutions.

Reacting to the presentations, one participant noted the need for a multilateral agreement on food production and for closer relationships between the agriculture and environment sectors. Calls were made for concrete proposals to halt biodiversity loss, implement nature-based solutions, and raise public awareness around this. Other issues discussed included: setting sustainability standards for soy production through traceability and transparency; the need for simple, easy to explain targets, like zero extinction of species by 2020; influencing behavioural change through relevant communication; and the need for robust, clear legislation uniformly applied and enforced, as well as public facing polices and engagement with producers. On financing, incentives for producers to make requisite changes were suggested. Other interventions focused on: addressing soil health, tillage, crop rotation, carbon sequestration and reinventing cultivated biodiversity through regenerative agriculture principles; considering biodiversity, climate change and land degradation simultaneously; and putting loss of nature at the top of the political agenda.

Upcoming Meetings

HLPF 2019: Convening under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council, this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) will address the theme “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality.” It will conduct an in-depth review of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which is reviewed each year. The Forum will also consider the Global Sustainable Development Report, among other items, which is issued every four years.  dates: 9-19 July 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2019

CITES COP 18: The eighteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP18) is expected to address a range of issues, from implementation of the Convention and species-specific matters to trade controls and the listing of new species in the CITES Appendices.  dates: 17-28 August 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www: https://cites.org/eng/news/media-advisory-cites-cop18-the-world-wildlife-conference-geneva-switzerland-17-to-28-august-2019_01072019

Third Session of the Intergovernmental Conference on BBNJ (IGC-3): This session will continue to negotiate issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.  dates: 19-30 August 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  www: https://www.un.org/bbnj/

First meeting of the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: Among other matters, this meeting will consider reports of consultations and other contributions to the post-2020 process, the potential elements of the structure and scope of the post-2020 framework, the future work programme of the Open-ended Working Group, and allocation of tasks to other intersessional bodies and processes.  dates: 27-30 August 2019  location: Nairobi, Kenya  www: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020/wg2020-01/documents

Committee on World Food Security (CFS 46): The 46th session of the CFS will discuss, among other issues, the report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 and its policy implications in the context of the SDGs.  dates: 14-18 October 2019  location: FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy  www: http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-home/en  

Eighth Session of the ITPGRFA Governing Body: The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will review progress made in the Working Group on Enhancing the Multilateral System of access and benefit-sharing, as well as other matters related to the implementation of the Treaty.  dates: 11-16 November 2019  location: FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy  www: http://www.fao.org/plant-treaty/meetings/meetings-detail/en/c/1111365/  

Eleventh meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions: The Working Group will develop proposals for possible future work, including proposals for a second phase of work on the Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use, as well as institutional arrangements and their modus operandi in order to inform the development of a fully integrated programme of work as part of the post-2020 framework.  dates: 20-22 November 2019  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/WG8J-11

CBD SBSTTA 23: The 23rd meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 23) will address, among other issues, scientific aspects related to the post-2020 framework.  dates: 25-29 November 2019  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/

Second meeting of the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Framework: This meeting will continue deliberations on the post-2020 framework.  dates: 24-28 February 2020 (tentative)  location: Kunming, China (tentative)  www: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020

CMS COP 13: The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals will address a broad range of issues related to the objectives and implementation of the Convention.  dates: 15-22 February 2020  location: Gandhinagar, India  www: https://www.cms.int/en/meeting/thirteenth-meeting-conference-parties-cms

CBD SBSTTA 24: The 24th meeting of SBSTTA will focus on scientific and technical matters in preparation for CBD COP 15.  dates: 18-23 May 2020  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/

CBD SBI 3: The third meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) will address matters related to the administration and implementation of the Convention and its Protocols.  dates: 25-29 May 2020  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/

IUCN World Conservation Congress: The IUCN World Conservation Congress will bring together leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.  dates: 11-19 June 2020  location: Marseille, France  www: https://www.iucncongress2020.org

Third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Framework: This will be the third open-ended working group meeting aimed at developing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  dates: 27-31 July 2020 (tentative)  location: Colombia (tentative)  www: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020

CBD COP 15, COP/MOP 10 to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and COP/MOP 4 to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing: The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 10) and the fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (COP/MOP 4) are expected to address a series of issues related to implementation of the Convention and its Protocols, and adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  dates: October 2020 (tentative)  location: Kunming, China  www: https://www.cbd.int/cop/

For additional upcoming events, see http://sdg.iisd.org/


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