The Geneva Biodiversity Conference, the first in-person meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in two years, opened on Monday, 14 March, with three bodies meeting in parallel. On the first day of work, following a joint opening plenary, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), and the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (WG2020) held their resumed plenary sessions.
Zhou Guomei, Deputy Secretary General, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), on behalf of Conference of the Parties (COP) President Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, stressed that nature is essential for life, highlighting the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) as a turning point to safeguard “our cultural, traditional, and biological diversity, and build a shared future for all life on Earth.” Pointing to the broad and ambitious agendas of the three meetings, she urged enhanced cooperation and consensus towards the necessary transition to bend the curve of biodiversity loss and place it on a path to recovery by 2030.
Franz Perrez, Swiss Ambassador for Climate, on behalf of the host country, prioritized the adoption of a transformative GBF, emphasizing the need to focus on “what is needed, using time efficiently and wisely.”
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, CBD, commended China for the successful hosting of the first part of COP15. She emphasized that during the first part of COP15, ministers underscored biodiversity mainstreaming; redirection of perverse subsidies; and full and effective participation of all stakeholders as important components of a universal biodiversity framework. Regarding the current meetings, she highlighted the presence of 550 registered delegates from 164 countries and 900 participants from various organizations, in addition to more than 700 delegates and 500 participants joining virtually. She called for advancing the GBF to “transform our unsustainable relationship with nature.”
Regional groups and major stakeholders delivered their opening statements, welcoming the continuation of in-person meetings; underscoring the importance of an ambitious and balanced GBF; and expressing their priorities towards the framework’s development.
SBSTTA Chair Hesiquio Benítez Díaz opened the second part of SBSTTA-24, outlining intersessional work and urging delegates to focus on providing the best scientific, technical, and technological advice, in line with SBSTTA’s mandate. Delegates approved the organization of work for the resumed meeting without comments.
Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada), Co-Chairs of the WG2020, opened the resumed third session of the Working Group. They provided an update on the work that was performed virtually over the past two years, including their reflections on the process; and elaborated on the work of the contact groups established in the first part of WG2020-3, which will continue deliberations in the resumed session. They further introduced the organization of work, which was adopted without objections.
SBI Chair Charlotta Sörqvist (Sweden), via video, opened the meeting, noting that the SBI agenda includes key inputs for the GBF. Sörqvist explained that, as she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was required to self-quarantine, the meeting would be chaired by Gabriele Obermayr (Austria).
Chair Sörqvist introduced the organization of SBI’s work, emphasizing that four contact groups established during the first part of the meeting will continue their work in the resumed session.
Delegates approved the organization of work, noting Brazil’s concern regarding limited time devoted on resource mobilization. They further addressed the financial mechanism, including two documents related to the eighth replenishment period of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-8). Discussions on the financial mechanism will continue in a contact group on Thursday, 17 March, and in plenary on Friday, 18 March.