A gear change was evident at the Geneva Biodiversity Conference on Saturday. The Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) held a productive plenary session in the morning. The rest of the day was devoted to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), with two dense Contact Group sessions of the Working Group on the GBF (WG2020) taking place in the afternoon and evening, going strong into the late night. Two informal groups found some time in the packed schedule to continue working on digital sequence information (DSI) at lunchtime, and marine and coastal biodiversity in the evening.
The SBI Plenary addressed numerous items on its agenda, approving conference room papers on:
- resource mobilization;
- the financial mechanism;
- capacity building and development, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer;
- the gender plan of action;
- the post-2020 implementation plan and capacity-building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; and
- communication for the GBF.
Resource mobilization and the financial mechanism, items that are traditionally controversial, contain a number of brackets despite their quick adoption. The African Group stressed that progress has been insufficient, calling for a formal meeting of SBI prior to COP-15 to continue discussions. Communication for the GBF attracted many comments from parties wishing to strengthen the relevant recommendation to COP-15, realizing communication’s central role in developing broad societal understanding of the existential threat that biodiversity loss poses to human and planetary health. The other items under consideration were smoothly adopted, taking advantage of the significant work done in Contact Groups and informal groups, which helped iron out divergent views.
The afternoon Contact Group on the WG2020 focused on a set of targets on meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing. Delegates addressed and amended targets on:
- maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services such as regulation of air, water and soil quality and protection from natural hazards and extreme weather events, including through ecosystem-based approaches and/or nature-based solutions (NbS) for all people;
- significantly increasing the area of, and access to, green and blue spaces in urban and other densely populated areas, for human health and wellbeing, while enhancing ecological connectivity by mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into urban planning and development; and
- implementing measures at the global level and in all countries to facilitate access to genetic resources and to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, and as relevant, of associated traditional knowledge, including through mutually agreed terms and prior informed consent.
The evening Contact Group on the WG2020 addressed a set of targets on tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming. During the evening discussions, Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), marked Earth Hour by urging delegates to take this as an inspiration, noting that the world is looking at them to make the right decisions.
Five side events took place at lunchtime, focusing on:
- harnessing the potential of business and finance action for a successful GBF;
- the tree of life: conserving our evolutionary heritage to ensure nature’s contributions to people for future generations;
- understanding innovation with genetic resources and DSI: insights into research and development processes and value chains;
- innovative inclusive processes to harmonize national and sub-national actions with the GBF in India; and
- science and innovation in the GBF.