The fourth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) kicked off Monday at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya. This final meeting of the Working Group is expected to complete negotiations and finalize the GBF for adoption at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15). Monday also marked the UN International Day of Yoga under the theme “Yoga for Humanity,” to promote sustainable lifestyles in harmony with planet Earth, a theme that blends well with the GBF four goals to achieve, by 2050, humanity “living in harmony with nature.”
Co-Chair Basile van Havre (Canada) opened the meeting, reminding delegates of the need for empathy and compassion as the world continues to face worsening impacts from COVID-19. Delegates observed a moment of silence for the passing of Johan Hedlund who held the position of Associate Information Officer of the CBD. Co-Chair Francis Ogwal (Uganda) stressed the importance of compromises to reach consensus on a concise and communicable GBF that does not sacrifice ambition. He called for simple language understood by all, balanced efforts across all targets, and further work on digital sequence information (DSI) building on the solid foundations set at the third meeting of the Working Group, held in Geneva.
Delegates heard opening statements, including by Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, who highlighted global progress achieved in agreements on marine plastics, nature-based solutions, and chemical waste management. The spotlight, she added, is now on the GBF to lay out solutions to tackle the triple planetary crises of pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.
In a video statement, CBD COP15 President Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, quoting the African Proverb, “if you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together,” urged international cooperation to launch a new chapter of global biodiversity conservation. He also drew attention to the Kunming Biodiversity Fund amounting to USD 233 million in support of biodiversity conservation.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary, reported the highest participation at the current meeting compared to previous sessions, signaling the world’s commitment to a transparent and participatory GBF process. She also announced the Bureau’s decision to hold CBD COP15 in Montreal, Canada, in December 2022.
Delegates thereafter heard regional statements expressing support for tackling outstanding issues on the GBF and highlighting important elements for further necessary actions for ambitious, transformative, and achievable GBF goals and targets. The plenary session concluded with reports from Charlotta Sörqvist (Sweden), Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and Hesiquio Benítez Díaz (Mexico), Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice, who focused on the intersessional work following the third meeting of the Working Group. Delegates also heard a report from Lactitia Tshitwamulomoni (South Africa), Co-Lead of the informal advisory group on digital sequence information.
Contact Group 6, co-led by Marie-May Muzungaile (Seychelles) and Carolina Caceres (Canada), began deliberations on implementation support mechanisms, and responsibility and transparency. An evening session of the contact group continued discussions on transparency and further tackled GBF outreach, awareness, and uptake.
The highest participation of all GBF Working Group meetings was reflected by the unprecedented queues outside the UN Office entrance. Most delegates remained undisturbed by the delays as old friends chatted in anticipation of the first day of the meeting. Many expressed their hope of tackling unfinished business and acknowledged the onus placed on them to usher in a new era of biodiversity conservation.
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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 4th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis.