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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 9 Number 732 | Monday, 2 September 2019


Summary of the First Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

27-30 August 2019 | UN Office, Nairobi, Kenya


Language: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from the UN Office, Nairobi, Kenya, at: http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/post2020/oewg/1/

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan 2011-2020, which lays out the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets is rapidly approaching its 2020 expiration date. In view of this, the fourteenth meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP 14) established an Open-ended Intersessional Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to update the Strategic Plan and develop a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).

The first meeting of the Working Group (WG) convened for four days to deliberate on the structure of GBF and the future work of the WG. The WG adopted conclusions of the meeting compiled by the Co-Chairs, Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada) and the Report of the Meeting, which reflects decisions made by the WG, including agreement:

  • on a non-paper on possible elements of the GBF;
  • on the preliminary list of meetings, consultations, and workshops for the development of GBF;
  • on the dates of and venue of the second and third meetings of the WGs, to be held in February 2020 in China and in July 2020 in Colombia;
  • that submissions on the structure of the GBF be submitted to the Executive Secretary by 15 September 2019;
  • that a zero draft text of GBF be provided six weeks before the second meeting of the WG; and
  • that a detailed workplan be prepared by Co-Chairs and the Executive Secretary, and be presented at the informal briefing of the Co-Chairs on 24 November 2019 during the meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA).

The WG also agreed to request SBSTTA to provide guidance on specific goals, targets, indicators, baselines, and monitoring frameworks related to the drivers of biodiversity loss for achieving transformative change, within the scope of the three objectives of the convention.

The first meeting of the WG on Post-2020 took place on 27-30 August 2019, at the UN Office at Nairobi, Kenya, and was attended by 514 delegates: 275 representing parties to the Convention, two from non-parties; 27 from UN and specialized agencies; 41 from intergovernmental organizations; 106 non-governmental organizations; 20 representatives of indigenous peoples; seven observers; 16 youth representatives; 14 from academia; and six from the business community.

A Brief History of the Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted on 22 May 1992 and opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”). The CBD entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 196 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Three protocols have been adopted under the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (January 2000, Montreal, Canada) addresses the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. It entered into force on 11 September 2003 and currently has 171 parties. The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (October 2010, Nagoya, Japan) provides for international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from LMOs. It entered into force on 5 March 2018 and currently has 42 parties.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization (October 2010, Nagoya) sets out an international framework for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and technologies, and by appropriate funding, thereby contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and currently has 114 parties.

Key Turning Points in Strategic Planning

2010 Target: In April 2002 at the sixth meeting of the COP in The Hague, the Netherlands, 10 years after the CBD was opened for signature, the parties adopted a Strategic Plan 2002-2010 (decision VI/26) to guide further implementation at the national, regional and global levels. The stated purpose of the plan was to effectively halt the loss of biodiversity so as to secure the continuity of its beneficial uses through the conservation and sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Parties also committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth. This target was subsequently endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations General Assembly and was incorporated as a new target under the Millennium Development Goals.

Aichi Biodiversity Targets: At the tenth meeting of the COP in Nagoya, Japan, the parties adopted the CBD’s second Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2010 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (decision X/2). Under the theme “Living in Harmony with Nature,” the purpose of the Strategic Plan is to promote effective implementation of the Convention through a strategic approach, comprising a shared vision, a mission, and strategic goals and targets (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets), that will inspire broad-based action by all Parties and stakeholders. The Plan contains the “2050 Vision for Biodiversity”: By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.

The twenty Aichi Targets are organized under the five strategic goals:

  • Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society;
  • Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use;
  • Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity;
  • Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services; and
  • Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management, and capacity building.

This current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity is due to expire in 2020.

COP 14: At COP 14 in November 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the parties adopted decision 14/34, which set forth a comprehensive and participatory process to update the Convention’s strategic plan, and established an open-ended working group to develop the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP 15 in China in 2020.

The process adopted by parties for the development of the GBF contains a set of principles, an organization of work, and a comprehensive consultation process, including provisions for global, regional, and thematic consultations. The process also required the development of a discussion document summarizing and analyzing the initial views of parties and observers.

Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada) were appointed as Co-Chairs of the Working Group.

Preparations for the Working Group

Various events and consultations took place in preparation for the WG in order to contribute to an ambitious post-2020 framework, and ensure a harmonized approach for its preparation. A high-level Ministerial Roundtable event titled, “Advancing the Biodiversity Agenda and the development of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework,” was held on 14 March 2019 on the margins of the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), in Nairobi, Kenya.

Regional consultations were held in all UN regions in 2019, including: Asia and the Pacific on 28-31 January in Nagoya, Japan; Western European and Others Group and other members of the European Union (EU) on 19-21 March in Bonn, Germany; Africa on 2-5 April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Central and Eastern Europe on 16-18 April in Belgrade, Serbia; and Latin America and the Caribbean on 14-17 May in Montevideo, Uruguay.

A number of thematic consultations took place, including: an expert workshop for possible gender elements for the framework held in New York, US on 11-12 April 2019; a consultative workshop of biodiversity-related conventions held in Bern, Switzerland on 10-12 June 2019; and a global consultation on the science basis for the framework, held during the ninth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity in Trondheim, Norway, on 2-5 July 2019. This conference convened under the theme “Making biodiversity matter: knowledge and know-how for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework,” and facilitated inputs to ensure the development of the GBF is knowledge-based, just, and inclusive.

Post-2020 Working Group Report

Co-Chair Francis Ogwal opened the meeting on Tuesday, 27 August, noting that deliberations from regional and thematic consultations had been invaluable, and will provide guidance on the way forward for the GBF.

Hamdallah Zedan, Ministry of Environment, Egypt, speaking on behalf of COP 14 President Yasmine Fouad, emphasized that the development and implementation of the GBF should, among others:

  • build on lessons learned from the implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan;
  • be informed by scientific knowledge, including from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES);
  • engage all participants in a meaningful way; and
  • reach and engage all sectors linked to direct or indirect drivers of biodiversity loss.

Highlighting that “our task is a daunting one,” he expressed optimism for rising to the challenge and finding the right path to achieving the 2050 Vision, “Living in harmony with nature.”

Quoting Nelson Mandela, CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Pașca Palmer said, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” She said she cannot think of a more exciting moment for our generation, and noted that the GBF can become fully aligned with other key global processes including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. Underscoring “there is no time to waste” and the rising costs of inaction, she encouraged participants to “be bold, be brave, and work together to bend the curve” towards the 2050 Vision.

Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, said the GBF is crucial to arresting biodiversity loss, and emphasized the importance of learning and investigating why the Aichi Targets were not successful. On “how to get it right,” she further recommended, inter alia:

  • engagement with the business sector and ensuring their buy-in to targets;
  • recognizing the importance of baselines for measuring indicators;
  • looking beyond percentages of planet protection and turning to incorporating biodiversity-positive agriculture and biodiversity-rich cities;
  • using science-based targets to measure successes and gaps; and
  • an “apex target,” combining species, genetic and ecosystem diversity to measure overall performance.

Egypt, on behalf of the African Group, underlined the importance of integration of the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols into the GBF and emphasized that the GBF should provide for capacity building, technology transfer, and reflect the role of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). He further called for additional resources to raise the profile of biodiversity work and expressed the wish to see progress on digital sequence information.

Kuwait, on behalf of the Asia and Pacific Group, said the GBF should be built on bold commitments to implement and achieve transformative change and emphasized the need for synergy between biodiversity-related conventions. She further stressed developing specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic and time-bound targets (SMART).

Finland, on behalf of the EU, praised the recognition of the importance of scientific evidence, and noted the need to adopt an ambitious framework. He added that the GBF should strengthen the CBD and its Protocols and involve the Rio and other biodiversity-related conventions.

Tajikistan, on behalf of the Central and Eastern European Group, stressed the importance of indigenous knowledge systems and the role of IPLCs in ensuring preservation of natural genetic resources, and urged harmonization of the CBD Protocols with the Convention.

Costa Rica, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), highlighted outcomes of regional consultations, including the need for: human and technical capacity building; strong communication on biodiversity; in-depth analysis of the integration of biodiversity into planning processes; and more creative and ambitious targets to ensure transformative change at all levels.

New Zealand, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Japan, stressed the need to learn from successes and failures of the Aichi Targets and involve all actors. He urged recognition of the recommendations from the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), said IPLCs should be considered as strategic partners rather than stakeholders, and called for a human-centered approach to the GBF that assures protection of human-rights defenders.

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) urged parties to recognize the pivotal role of local governments in reconnecting people to nature, and highlighted the Subnational Roadmap and Action Agenda aimed at scaling up ambition of the implementation of the GBF.

The Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) urged participants to “lean into the discomfort” of acknowledging we have all been part of the crisis, and develop a framework that is guided by “implementation, implementation and implementation.”

The CBD Alliance urged delegates to address financial investment in mining, fisheries and infrastructure, uphold the polluter pays and precautionary principles, and recognize and secure the collective rights of IPLCs.

The CBD Women’s Caucus called for the GBF to address and integrate gender equality, social justice, human rights, the rights of nature, gender-responsive approaches, and violence against women, especially related to environmental defenders.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlighted the need for an action-orientated GBF, and urged zero net loss of biodiversity by 2030, and net gain of biodiversity by 2050.

Adoption of the Agenda and Organization of Work

On Tuesday, Helena Jeffery Brown (Antigua and Barbuda) was appointed as meeting rapporteur, and delegates adopted the agenda and organization of work (CBD/WG2020/1/1 and Add.1).

Discussions on the potential elements on structure and scope of the GBF took place in plenary guided by the WG Co-Chairs and through a discussion group on Wednesday and Thursday, chaired by Charlotta Sörqvist (Sweden) and Dilosharvo Dustov (Tajikistan). Discussions on the future work plan were carried out in plenary.

Information sessions took place during the lunch break. This new format, which replaced conventional side-events, is being tested at the current meeting for consideration in upcoming meetings. These sessions took place under the following themes:

  • Strategic planning, focusing on approaches and elements for development of strategic plans, and to develop language for each potential element (vision, mission, goals, targets, sub-targets, outcomes, outputs, indicators);
  • Scientific evidence for informing the framework, including key areas such as drivers and threats to be addressed in the GBF;
  • Linkages to SDGs, designed to inform participants about the structure, organization, review, reporting, and indicators used in SDGs and how to link these to biodiversity goals; and
  • Global strategic planning in other international instruments and processes, intended to inform participants on biodiversity goals and targets under development by other relevant multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).

Reports of Consultations and other Contributions to the Post-2020 Process

On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced an overview of consultations conducted and contributions received regarding the preparation of the GBF (CBD/WG2020/1/2). Dorington Ogoyi (Kenya), Rapporteur for the Workshop on Biosafety and the Cartagena Protocol, reported on calls for new technologies in conservation and that sustainable use of biodiversity lies at the intersection between the Cartagena Protocol and the Convention.

Christine Echookit Akello (Uganda), Rapporteur for the Workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and the Nagoya Protocol, reported on a call for: capacity building and other enabling conditions for implementation; meaningful engagement of IPLCs, including improving their access to technical guidance; and improved synergies with other international conventions.

IPBES Chair Ana María Hernández reported on messages from the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, noting that more species are threatened with extinction now than at any other time in human history, and explained that transformative change requires fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic, and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values.

Theresa Mundita Lim, Executive Director, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centre for Biodiversity, updated participants on the recent work of the CBD Informal Advisory Group on Mainstreaming of Biodiversity, including the importance of mainstreaming as a pathway to achieving transformative change.

Co-Chair Ogwal reported on five regional consultations (Asia Pacific, Western Europe and Others, Africa, Eastern and Central Europe, and GRULAC), thematic consultations, including the ninth Trondheim Biodiversity Conference, and meetings with other biodiversity-related processes.

Co-Chair Basile van Havre emphasized that the GBF needs to be clear and simple in order to effectively communicate actions required to restore and reverse trends in biodiversity loss. He said targets and indicators should be realistic, reachable, and time-bound, with timelines relevant to both biological and political cycles; and should incorporate ecosystems, sustainable use, and benefit sharing, taking into account threats to and drivers of biodiversity loss.

Plenary then heard interventions on the consultative process. Argentina suggested that the GBF be balanced and that it should not go beyond the scope and text of the Convention, citing the importance of protecting the sovereignty of states over their own natural resources.

Colombia said that the consultations have enabled open participation and allowed for identification of issues, expressing concern about low participation of the private sector and time constraints for the GBF process.

Switzerland highlighted synergies with biodiversity-related conventions and emphasized the need to create an integrated and effective GBF.

Japan called for recognition of multidimensional ecosystem-based approaches. Chile and Bolivia urged integrated perspectives that include gender, youth, IPLCs and other disadvantaged groups. Ecuador said that reversing trends in biodiversity loss requires an ambitious yet realistic GBF and, with Peru, urged for adequate financial resources to support transformative changes. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) urged support for national-level consultative processes.

Brazil urged for ambitious means of implementation, effective resource mobilization, robust capacity building, and a strong ABS system.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for greater recognition of the importance of biodiversity for food security.

Potential Elements on Structure and Scope of the Post-2020 Framework

On Tuesday, Co-Chair Ogwal introduced the relevant documentation (CBD/WG2020/1/3), and outlined four clusters that provide guidance for organizing the framework:

  • Cluster 1: Outcome-oriented elements (vision, mission, goals, and targets);
  • Cluster 2: Enabling conditions and means of implementation;
  • Cluster 3: Planning and accountability modalities, mechanisms, and tools (monitoring, reporting, and review); and
  • Cluster 4: Cross-cutting approaches and issues.

General comments on the structure: The African Group called for a GBF structure that allows alignment with the SDGs, resource mobilization, and capacity-building mechanisms.

Norway underscored the need to strengthen implementation and accountability and for clarification on sustainable use. Japan urged a strong implementation mechanism and goals and targets that are feasible and measurable.

Switzerland preferred to begin with an agreement on targets before having discussions on enabling conditions and called for avoiding duplication with external processes.

The Republic of Korea said the framework could help raise awareness and mainstream biodiversity in all sectors and thus needs to be easy to understand. Norway emphasized that the three objectives of the Convention should be more clearly reflected in the proposed structure.

Mexico suggested setting strategic benchmarks on the way to 2050 to assist the strategic and implementation process, and to set indicators that can be refined at a later date. Brazil, with Botswana, encouraged linking the framework with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda).

Australia said connecting biodiversity to human health and economic sustainability are key to the success of the GBF and underlined the importance of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).

Colombia said activities for transformative change are important across all sectors and that calls to action for agriculture, mining, and industry would lead to sustainable use.

China stressed the need to support implementation, noting the need to respect the right to development of developing countries. Jordan stressed the need to design a mechanism for mobilizing resources to ensure all parties work on an equal basis. Argentina preferred a target related to mobilization of funds or to specify how each target will be funded.

Botswana highlighted the need to address the challenge of poverty, supporting expanding the vision to include sustainable livelihoods. India also supported reflecting the link between biodiversity loss and poverty. Bolivia recommended that voluntary contributions should apply to parties, saying non-state actor contributions could be dealt with at the national level.

Iran called for a framework that is science-oriented in order to facilitate implementation.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility supported including knowledge management under enabling actions, and improving accessibility of biodiversity data and information.

The FAO stressed the need for biodiversity-based solutions, inclusion of sustainable food production systems, and alignment with the SDGs.

The World Bank said that if ambition is the aim, then mainstreaming in agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, and other sectors should be a priority in the GBF.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) called for enhanced synergies to ensure genetic resources for food and agriculture, and biodiversity-based food systems, are adequately considered.

UN Women called for a dedicated goal or targets across all goals on the full and effective engagement of all relevant groups, including women.

UNEP and the Ramsar Convention supported strengthening collaboration among national focal points. Speaking on behalf of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), UNEP highlighted the strategic vision adopted at CITES CoP 18, which contains specific reference to the GBF.

The Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathian Mountains urged for increased recognition of mountain ecosystems as key hotspots of global importance.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggested inclusion of footprints from production and consumption and an implementation mechanism that allows increasing ambitions and actions at regular intervals. The CBD Women’s Caucus urged for a rights-based GBF to ensure women are recognized as key actors for achieving the objectives of the Convention; and for a stand-alone goal for engagement of women and girls in relevant decision-making processes.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) suggested a possible stand-alone target on connectivity, and that NBSAPs include all biodiversity-related commitments to which the country is party.

Cluster 1: Outcome-oriented elements (vision, mission, goals, and targets): On Tuesday, Co-Chair van Havre invited inputs on this cluster. The African Group, with Saint Lucia, highlighted that all visions, targets, goals, and indicators must address incentives for action.

New Zealand said the 2050 Vision should not be renegotiated, and the 2030 mission should be achievable as well as inspirational. She supported clearly addressing drivers of biodiversity loss and, with Australia, clear reflection of the principles of CBD Article 8(j) (indigenous and local communities) in the proposed structure.

The EU called for a 2030 mission that is a clear and measurable milestone on the way to 2050, and noted that NBSAPs play an important role in mainstreaming biodiversity. She said targets should contain clear and comprehensive messages.

Uganda highlighted inclusion of benefit sharing in the targets and, with the Republic of Korea, supported a hierarchical approach to goals and targets that are precise, concise, and simple to communicate.

South Africa supported strategic goals, targets, and indicators that are easy to communicate to the general public, but urged for clearer integration of the Nagoya and Cartagena Protocols.

Australia with Switzerland, Bolivia, and Canada, supported an inspirational apex target that incorporates all three objectives of the Convention. Iceland expressed concern that one apex target would not be adequate for covering the whole, complex web of life, and Friends of the Earth International cautioned that an apex target would risk neglecting many other complex factors.

China said that indicators should address over-exploitation of nature and climate change. The EU stressed the need for clear baselines and the development of targets in collaboration with other international processes where appropriate.

Argentina said the framework should be based on unmet Aichi Targets, and Colombia suggested moving towards a more holistic approach that recognizes that “living in harmony with nature” is “a human responsibility to find a way to live in reciprocity” with nature.

The World Bank outlined its work on assessing the economic value of biodiversity, including considering possible fiscal, financial, and trade policies to incentivize biodiversity preservation. Friends of the Earth International emphasized the importance of protecting the human rights of environmental defenders.

The GYBN highlighted the need to clearly reflect intergenerational equity, saying it underpins the 2050 Vision.

On Wednesday, Co-Chair van Havre announced the establishment of a discussion group to discuss the vision, mission, goals, targets, and indicators, chaired by Charlotta Sörqvist (Sweden) and Dilosharvo Dustov (Tajikistan). The group met in the evening to reach a common understanding on the targets.

On Thursday, discussion group Co-Chair Sörqvist reported progress made and that the Co-Chairs have prepared a draft on a possible structure of the GBF, which would be the basis for continued group discussions. The discussion group deliberated on the components of, and relationships between, the rationale, the preamble, the 2050 Vision, the 2030 mission, a possible apex goal and milestones, and goals, targets, sub-targets, and indicators. Discussions focused on central questions to the structure, including, inter alia:

  • whether the 2030 mission should express an action to be taken or a status of biodiversity to be achieved by 2030;
  • how to express the 2030 mission in a simple manner while ensuring a balanced representation of all three pillars of the Convention;
  • how to formulate SMART goals, indicators, and targets;
  • how to incorporate indigenous and local knowledge within knowledge management;
  • how to monitor and review progress, and ensure transparency;
  • how to ensure natural capital accounting goes beyond economic valuations;
  • how to ensure that levers of transformative change are specified within the scope of the GBF;
  • how to include an accountability framework that applies to NBSAPs and other components of implementation; and
  • whether an apex goal would benefit or hinder effective implementation of the GBF.

Cluster 2: Enabling conditions and means of implementation: On Tuesday, delegates requested the Secretariat to provide an update on decision 14/22 on resource mobilization. On Wednesday, referencing COP 14 decision 14/22, which requested the Executive Secretary to contract a panel of experts and prepare reports to contribute to the GBF, Markus Lehmann, CBD Secretariat, said the selection of an expert panel was moving forward and work towards delivery of three products had been outlined, including:

  • an ex-post review of experiences in achieving Aichi Target 20 on resource mobilization;
  • an estimation of resources needed for implementation of the GBF; and
  • a draft of the potential resource mobilization components.

The ex-post review, he said, could be started immediately but the other two products could be informed by the GBF itself.

On Wednesday, delegates discussed the six elements under this cluster, namely: resource mobilization, financial mechanism, capacity building, technical and scientific cooperation and technology transfer, knowledge management, and communication.

Norway, Switzerland, Japan, China, the EU, Brazil, Syria, and others viewed means of implementation as fundamental to the GBF. Switzerland pointed to lack of focus on implementation as a factor in the failure to achieve the Aichi Targets. Brazil said means of implementation should be mainstreamed into all goals, and Bolivia, with Venezuela and Pakistan, said it should be rooted in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Palestine stressed that means of implementation must be based on the principles of justice and equality. Colombia suggested that enabling conditions be subject to the same monitoring and accountability mechanisms to maintain momentum for implementation.

A number of participants drew attention to the need to increase the mobilization of resources across sectors. The African Group emphasized the need for an assessment of the costs of implementing the GBF in order to guide discussions on resource mobilization.

Norway highlighted building on the UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) project and engaging national financing authorities. Peru, South Africa, and Colombia supported the use of BIOFIN, and South Africa, presenting their BIOFIN experience, urged others to consider this option for national resource mobilization.

Australia supported the use of a wide range of funding sources and development of long-term implementation plans. Uganda supported flexible funding opportunities. Bolivia emphasized that CBD Article 20 on financial resources should remain the basis of discussions on resource mobilization.

NGOs urged for eliminating perverse incentives such as global agricultural subsidies, which are generally harmful to biodiversity. The World Bank advised including private sector actors in the development of private sector targets.

BirdLife International noted that slow resource mobilization was a hindrance to implementation of the Aichi Targets. The IIFB stated that mobilization of resources should be made appropriate to the cultures of IPLCs.

The African Group, with China and Liberia, called for mechanisms to accelerate action on technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer. India highlighted failures in implementation of the Aichi Targets due to inadequate scientific cooperation and technology transfer. The Russian Federation lamented the failure of the UNEP Bali Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building, through which he said no technology has been successfully transferred. Peru called for a specific target on technology transfer and South Africa reiterated that meaningful technology transfer is also key for the Nagoya Protocol.

On the financial mechanism, New Zealand said the Global Environment Facility (GEF) plays a key role in providing financial resources to developing countries. The Russian Federation noted its concern that the GEF remains the key mechanism for CBD implementation, and, with Iran, said funding bodies should work independently without political pressure from parties. South Sudan suggested considering the use of the Green Climate Fund to complement the GEF. Ethiopia supported a timely and transparent financial mechanism.

The African Group, with eSwatini, urged for a biodiversity funding mechanism similar to that under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to support delivery of the GBF. Mexico suggested that NBSAPs should serve as a baseline for identifying financing gaps.

The EU called for aligning the GBF to a range of mechanisms including the World Economic Forum’s Nature Action Agenda, which aims for global public-private cooperation for action on biodiversity, adding that addressing drivers of biodiversity loss and uptake of biodiversity concerns in other sectors would reduce resource needs.

The Nature Conservancy highlighted its study on financial mechanisms for biodiversity strategies, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) drew attention to its comprehensive update on global biodiversity finance, including on subsidies harmful to biodiversity, and on iterative national targets.

On communication, Australia said communication on the critical role of biodiversity is key to successful implementation, and New Zealand stressed that it should be an overarching principle in the GBF. Chile and Peru called for a strong communication strategy with simple and innovative messages, and Uganda suggested strong messages that create positive changes in attitudes. Ecuador urged initiatives for education and awareness building and supported a communication strategy relevant for all of society and decision-makers, and Bolivia urged inclusion of all stakeholders and rights-holders, particularly IPLCs. Cameroon highlighted that effective communication has been a major challenge at the national level, and Switzerland supported development of national communication strategies.

On knowledge management, the EU underlined the importance of using existing networks of scientific institutions. Mauritania called for improved sharing and access to relevant data for biodiversity management planning. New Zealand and Venezuela emphasized the importance of including indigenous and local knowledge, and Mauritania emphasized the need to take into account discussions under Article 8(j) in this regard. The GYBN urged the inclusion of references to: full and effective participation of IPLCs; production, access to, and management of knowledge systems from diverse sources; and biodiversity literacy and education.

On capacity building, the Republic of Korea noted significant gaps among parties on awareness, institutionalization, and mainstreaming the three objectives of the CBD. The African Group emphasized that a comprehensive capacity-building framework is a key element that underpins successful implementation. Ecuador said capacity building should be a cross-cutting issue across all targets. Mauritania noted capacity building should be based on the actual needs of recipients rather than needs presumed by others.

The IIFB urged face-to-face capacity building among IPLCs, as many have no access to the internet. CBD Women’s Caucus called for gender-responsive initiatives that address gender inequality and see women, especially indigenous and local women, as key knowledge holders.

Cluster 3: Planning and accountability modalities, mechanisms and tools (monitoring, reporting, and review): On Wednesday, Co-Chair van Havre opened the discussion on the elements under this cluster, namely: NBSAPs, national reports, the review process, and voluntary contributions.

Parties expressed strong support that NBSAPs continue to be the main instrument for CBD implementation at the national level. The African Group and Cuba supported linking NBSAPs to the 2030 Agenda. The EU recommended inserting the term “NBSAPs” in the Cluster 3 title and, with Indonesia, Mexico, Bolivia, and Georgia, supported that NBSAPs be revised to align with the GBF. China said NBSAPs should be improved to ensure linkages with other MEAs. Tajikistan and Ghana underlined using NBSAPs as entry points for implementation of the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols. Moldova said NBSAPs should incorporate IPBES, the Nagoya Protocol, and indicators from other conventions. Norway and Argentina suggested learning from experiences of the Paris Agreement and other conventions.

The Philippines and the DRC said the GEF should consider funding implementation as well as the preparation of NBSAPs. Ethiopia, with the DRC, called for transparent and timely transfer of funds from the GEF. Argentina suggested drawing on the Paris Agreement’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for guidance on financing implementation of the NBSAPs.

The United Nations University (UNU) urged parties to include landscape approaches in their NBSAPs. Noting that only half of the NBSAPs include gender perspectives, UN-Women emphasized that gender should be a stand-alone target, and that benchmarks be included in this cluster.

On national reporting, participants generally supported that reporting remain as the notification mechanism for national implementation. The African Group called for bolstering the process of these reports and stressed timely financial assistance. Tajikistan and Namibia called for harmonized national reporting on the Protocols.

The EU, Canada, Chile, and Switzerland urged streamlining and harmonizing reporting with biodiversity-related conventions. Switzerland highlighted the development of the Data Reporting Tool (DART) by UNEP to facilitate knowledge management and synergies in national biodiversity reporting. Mexico, Colombia, and Friends of the Earth International called for more standardized reporting between countries. Moldova suggested adding an intermediary report prior to 2030 to identify implementation challenges. Benin urged strengthening national monitoring for timely reporting. Australia said NBSAPs should be more dynamic to allow future updates. Egypt said the cost of monitoring should also be considered. The CBD Women’s Caucus urged parties to include gender-responsive reporting in their NBSAPs.

On the review process, the African Group, with the EU and Botswana, supported additional reviews, including peer-review, in order to facilitate mutual learning and accountability. China said the review process should not be used to criticize parties but to allow sharing of best practices and identifying of gaps for capacity and financial support. The DRC said reviews should be voluntary. Togo suggested periodic reviews linked to the SDGs, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.

Switzerland called for the development of a new accountability framework to enhance coherence and increase synergies in the GBF. Tajikistan, New Zealand, and Saint Lucia emphasized the need for transparency and greater accountability. The IIFB called for a robust accountability and compliance mechanism, drawing on the example of the UN Human Rights System. eSwatini said the accountability framework should include funding provided to developing countries. Uganda said lessons from previous reviews should enhance guidance on accountability.

On voluntary commitments, the African Group and Mexico called for clarification on how voluntary national commitments will be established. The EU said commitments should be linked to the NBSAPs but be independent of the cycle for updating the NBSAPs, and further encouraged contributions from IPLCs and, with Mexico, from the private sector. Switzerland said commitments should be open to non-state actors. Bolivia said voluntary commitments by non-state actors should be dealt with at national level. Friends of the Earth International said non-state actors should not be obliged to make commitments. Mauritania suggested a separate biodiversity fund could be useful. The GYBN preferred reference to common but differentiated responsibilities.

Cluster 4: Cross-cutting approaches and issues: On Wednesday, Co-Chair Ogwal opened discussions on mainstreaming, synergies, partnerships, and IPLCs, gender, and youth. Colombia urged the inclusion of transformative change as defined by IPBES.

On mainstreaming, the African Group emphasized the need for integrating biodiversity into national and regional development plans. New Zealand said biodiversity should be mainstreamed into decisions at all levels of decision-making on natural resources.

The EU said mainstreaming should apply methodologies and tools that assess values of nature, and consider various aspects, including sustainable sources of materials, green infrastructure, and natural capital accounting. Nigeria lamented the slow progress of mainstreaming and called for specific outcome-oriented provisions in the GBF, and, with Uganda, the inclusion of tools such as environmental impact assessments, strategic environmental assessments, natural capital accounting, and biodiversity offsets.

Ethiopia called for clear updated guidelines for biodiversity mainstreaming. Malaysia urged focusing on good practices for mainstreaming in forestry, agriculture, and tourism. Canada urged more effective mainstreaming of biodiversity into productive sectors and, with Switzerland and the Philippines, welcomed the work of the Informal Advisory Group on mainstreaming established at COP 14.

Singapore called for accelerated mainstreaming of biodiversity into subnational plans and policies. India emphasized the importance of institutional changes and less material-intensive lifestyles, and Iran suggested recognizing future generations as agents of change for mainstreaming. Togo suggested indicators that measure the level of mainstreaming in key sectors, and supported including biodiversity measurements in GDP calculations. The World Bank suggested participants consider an explicit target on measurements of biodiversity and ecosystem services for human wellbeing and to scale up relevant tools.

On synergies, Mexico urged for synergies with all UN agencies that have programmes on or deal with impacts on biodiversity, including UN Habitat. The African Group said the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in biodiversity conservation should be specified. Nigeria said inadequate coordination and synergies across biodiversity-related conventions is an impediment to impact. Switzerland supported broader NBSAPs that incorporate reporting from all biodiversity-related conventions, and Peru supported harmonizing reporting and data among these conventions. Argentina and Cameroon suggested inviting other MEAs for more thorough inputs into the GBF. Chile called for strong cooperation mechanisms for long-lasting solutions for restoration and conservation of biodiversity. China said nature-based approaches could act as a bridge between the CBD and UNFCCC.

On IPLCs, gender, and youth, Mexico urged their active participation and the consideration of intergenerational perspectives. Belarus emphasized the need to reflect the importance of preservation of indigenous and local knowledge. Ecuador, supported by Ethiopia, urged a comprehensive vision to ensure IPLCs, women, and youth play a greater role in biodiversity management. The African Group stressed that poverty among communities is a driver of biodiversity loss. Sierra Leone said privatization of natural resources by multinational corporations exacerbates poverty among IPLCs, and emphasized the importance of the participation of rural women in policies and implementation frameworks to preserve unique knowledge on traditional use of natural resources.

Central African Republic lamented the displacement of IPLCs and consequent loss of cultural identity, and called for addressing barriers to their involvement in decision-making on natural resource management. She highlighted discussions at the 2019 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to ensure by 2030 that women at all levels are involved in effective stewardship of and benefits from biodiversity. She further noted that youth provide new perspectives and innovative solutions.

Canada supported gender equality, reiterating that gender relations shape the use and management of biodiversity. The EU, supported by New Zealand, said the full and effective participation of IPLCs is key for the success of the GBF. Uganda supported involvement of stakeholders who are custodians and users of biodiversity. Paraguay supported explicit reference to farmers as an important stakeholder group. The IIFB called for the GBF to recognize the link between nature-based and culture-based solutions. The GYBN proposed intergenerational equity as a cross-cutting issue.

On partnerships, the African Group, Belarus, and Chile emphasized collaborations with academia and, with Ethiopia and Australia, supported collaboration with the private sector. Australia further noted that the private sector is a key partner in developing and implementing natural capital accounting approaches.

The EU said the private sector is key for communication and transformative change. Singapore and the EU reiterated the importance of partnering with cities and subnational governments. Côte d’Ivoire supported strengthening partnerships with local authorities, and Grenada urged fostering community involvement to encourage stewardship and good management of biodiversity. The Nature Conservancy, BirdLife International, and Conservation International highlighted the need to address drivers of biodiversity loss as a transformative element of the GBF.

Future Work Programme of the Working Group and Allocation of Tasks to other Intersessional Bodies and Processes

On Thursday, Co-Chair van Havre drew attention to document CBD/WG2020/1/4, reporting that the Co-Chairs and the Bureau, with the Secretariat, will continue to provide guidance on how inputs from intersessional work will feed into a draft GBF document.

The African Group expressed concern that the proposed themes for consultations are imbalanced and called for inclusion of consultations on means of implementation. She further called for:

  • ensuring regional balance and participation of all groups, including IPLCs, in the expert workshops;
  • making the draft text available for discussions at the second WG meeting in order to ensure adequate time for negotiation prior to COP 15;
  • clarity on indicators for the GBF, suggesting drawing from the SDGs’ SMART indicators; and
  • adequate development of elements on scientific and technological transfer, and capacity building.

The African Group also lamented the inadequate inclusion of taxonomy, noting this is closely linked with digital sequence information, which should be adequately clarified and agreed on by CBD COP 15.

Bolivia suggested that the WG strive towards a negotiated text by the end of its third meeting in order to reduce work on the GBF at COP 15.

The EU said a common understanding is required on how intersessional meetings will be organized and on how their outcomes would feed into the GBF. He also emphasized the need to build on the outcomes of the Consultation Workshop of Biodiversity-related Conventions on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, held in Bern, Switzerland in June 2019. He further urged continued engagement with cities and subnational governments, and called for dedicated consultative meetings focusing on transformative change required by 2050.

Japan announced that his country would host a workshop on landscapes and seascapes approaches in September 2019. He also requested that the negotiation texts for the WG meetings be made available at least six weeks in advance of meetings.

The African Group and the EU noted the importance of involving the UN Environment Management Group in ensuring synergies with all MEAs, regional processes, and stakeholders. Ghana also called for recognition of the contribution of activities and discussions under the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

Australia urged outlining the purpose and expected outputs of intersessional meetings in support of the GBF, and called for ensuring adequate attendance and expertise. She also requested clarification on how future thematic consultations will take into account gaps on themes yet to be considered. Ethiopia and Nigeria urged high-level political engagement during the intersessional work to maintain political goodwill, and Cameroon stressed the importance of communication.

 South Africa highlighted meetings in Africa that will contribute to the GBF, including the Pan-African Workshop on ABS in September 2019 and the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in November 2019.

Cameroon recommended reformatting the work programme to more clearly present all ongoing efforts and perspectives contributing to the GBF during the intersessional period.

China said formal discussions on the GBF should continue under the SBSTTA, the WG, the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8J), and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI); and that other intersessional activities remain supplementary.

Uganda stressed the importance of allocating adequate time to developing SMART indicators. Yemen called for initiatives to ensure full participation of countries facing conflicts and urged special consideration to their financial assistance for implementation.

Colombia reiterated that the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services should remain an essential component in any thematic discussion, and Mauritania urged diversifying the range of experts involved in the work programme.

Switzerland supported a work stream dedicated to enhancing synergies with other MEAs, including taking into account expertise from their Secretariats. Highlighting their highly relevant experience, CMS, Ramsar, and CITES encouraged more robust integration, liaison, and engagement between the GBF and the biodiversity-related cluster of MEAs. The CMS stressed that only by working together can we leverage opportunities to address drivers of biodiversity loss, reminding participants “the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts.”

UN-Women lamented the lack of secure funding for participation of the CBD Women’s Caucus in consultation meetings and discussions.

ICLEI drew attention to their “CitiesWithNature” initiative that facilitates information exchange. The IIFB highlighted the need for adequate funds to ensure their full and effective participation in all aspects of the work programme, and supported an emphasis on a rights-based approach to the thematic discussions, which is modeled on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The GYBN welcomed support from parties regarding the important role of youth in the GBF, and suggested that the thematic consultations be broadened to include online submissions and discussions held by rights-holders. Natural Justice, speaking for several NGOs, further highlighted the necessity to include discussions on human rights in the work programme, emphasizing that human rights are both dependent on biodiversity and essential to realizing the 2050 Vision.

The WG Co-Chairs noted areas of common understanding reflected during the discussion and announced that a conference room paper on conclusions of the meeting would be prepared for circulation.

Conclusions of the First Meeting of the Working Group

On Friday, discussion group Co-Chair Dustov reported back on the group’s deliberations during the week. Noting the divergent views shared, he announced that a non-paper had been finalized to reflect perspectives of participants to facilitate future discussions. WG Co-Chair van Havre proposed that the outcomes of the discussion group and the synthesis of views expressed on clusters be annexed to the draft conclusions of the WG.

Co-Chair van Havre invited views on the conclusions of the first meeting of the WG and its annexes, including the outcomes of the meeting; and a list of intersessional meetings, consultations and workshops leading up to the third meeting of the WG in July 2020 (CBD/WG2020/1/CRP.1).

Argentina, for GRULAC, called for balance so to better reflect the needs of developing countries, and requested a thematic consultation on means of implementation and a thematic consultation on ABS and sustainable use.

The EU suggested that SBSTTA 24 address baselines and monitoring and that SBI 3 address implementation, including the role of NBSAPs. WG Co-Chair van Havre said the SBSTTA can be invited to consider some of the gaps identified by parties.

Delegates agreed to the EU’s proposal to reference decisions of both the Cartagena Protocol and the Nagoya Protocol in the follow-up to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (CBD/CP/MOP/DEC/9/7 and CBD/NP/MOP/DEC/3/15, respectively).

Delegates agreed to Colombia’s suggestion to refer to a “zero draft” rather than a “preliminary draft” text of the GBF.

Bolivia and Argentina said the annexed outcomes of the meeting are not negotiated text and should not be included. The EU opposed, preferring to retain in the annex the outcomes of the discussion group as they reflected significant work by delegates during the week.

On text regarding intersessional work of subsidiary bodies, the EU suggested clarifying specific requests to:

  • SBSTTA, to consider specific goals, targets, indicators, and baselines, and monitor the framework relating to direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss;
  • the Informal Advisory Group for mainstreaming to include in its report to the third meeting of the SBI concrete proposals, as relevant; and
  • WG8J to consider relevant aspects of implementation relating to transformative change.

Bolivia and New Zealand questioned the reference to transformative change only and urged inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge. Colombia suggested reference to the five IPBES levers of transformative change. The Secretariat said SBSTTA will consider and advise on transformative change in light of the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. He further warned that the WG8J already has a full agenda for its upcoming meeting. Argentina and Brazil objected to referencing indirect drivers, and eSwatini, with Brazil, noted the need to include sustainable use and benefit sharing in SBSTTA’s discussions.

Co-Chair Ogwal urged Bolivia, the EU, Norway, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, eSwatini, and Brazil to meet informally to come up with compromise text. In the afternoon, Mexico reported on agreement to request SBSTTA to provide guidance on “specific goals, SMART targets, indicators, baselines, and monitoring frameworks related to the drivers of biodiversity loss for achieving transformative change, within the scope of the three objectives of the Convention.”

On requests for SBSTTA and SBI to collaborate with relevant organizations, participants debated how to identify a list of thematic issues with a view to exploring options for thematic workshops. Argentina proposed adding means of implementation and, with Bolivia, proposed adding ABS, drivers of biodiversity loss, and transformative change. Costa Rica and Bolivia requested inclusion of gender responsiveness, and ABS. Mexico proposed including voluntary commitments and to have a Friends of the Chair group to assess all proposals. South Africa proposed adding scientific and technological cooperation.

The EU suggested refraining from completing a list of themes of intersessional meetings at this WG but to request the Co-Chairs, Executive Secretary and the COP Bureau to identify additional views on thematic and other means of consultation. Bolivia stressed addressing the three objectives of the CBD in a balanced manner and including intergenerational equity and rights-based approaches.

David Cooper, CBD Secretariat, proposed requesting the Co-Chairs, the Executive Secretary, and the Bureau to identify additional thematic issues, balancing the three objectives of the CBD, and including gender responsiveness, and intergenerational and rights-based approaches, with a view to exploring options for thematic workshops and other means of consultation and to present them for consideration at the Informal Briefing of the Co-Chairs in November 2019.

Australia suggested additional text to provide clarity on how the intersessional work listed in the preliminary list of meetings will be carried out and how inputs from participants will be taken into account. The Co-Chairs suggested a Friends of the Co-Chairs meeting to find a way forward.

Delegates also discussed time frames for inputs to the zero draft, circulation of the zero draft, and presentation of the WG’s work plan. They agreed that inputs to the zero draft should be submitted by mid-September. Several delegates including Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, and eSwatini asked that the zero draft be available at the second meeting of the WG. Co-Chair van Havre proposed and delegates agreed that a detailed work plan be presented at the Informal Briefing of the Co-Chairs scheduled for 24 November 2019.

On collaborating with the UN Environmental Management Group, delegates agreed to invite the Group and its members to facilitate the contribution of the UN system to the development and implementation of the GBF.

Delegates adopted the Conclusions of the First Meeting of the WG (CBD/WG2020/1/L.2), which include annexes on possible elements of a GBF, and a preliminary list of meetings, consultations, and workshops for the development of the GBF.

Final Decision: In the decision (CBD/WG2020/1/L.2), the WG, inter alia:

  • invites parties and all stakeholders to submit to the Executive Secretary proposals on the structure of the GBF by 15 September 2019;
  • requests the Co-Chairs and the Executive Secretary, with the oversight of the Bureau, to continue the preparatory process, and to prepare documentation, including a zero draft text of the GBF six weeks before the second meeting of the WG;
  • takes note of the preliminary list of meetings, consultations, and workshops for the development of the GBF contained in Annex II, comprising three tables that include meetings mandated by the COP and those convened by partners, as well as other consultations and workshops proposed by the Co-Chairs and Executive Secretary;
  • requests the Co-Chairs, Executive Secretary, SBSTTA, and SBI, with the Bureau, to prepare a detailed workplan, and to present it at the Informal Briefing of the Co-Chairs on 24 November 2019;
  • invites the SBSTTA, SBI, and WG8J to undertake the agreed tasks, and bring to the attention of the WG any additional recommendations prior to COP 15;
  • invites the SBSTTA to provide elements concerning guidance on specific goals, SMART targets, indicators, baselines, and monitoring frameworks, relating to the drivers of biodiversity loss, for achieving transformational change, within the scope of the three objectives of the Convention;
  • invites the WG8J to consider relevant aspects in developing its future work programme;
  • welcomes the offer of Switzerland to host a workshop as a follow-up to the Consultation Workshop of the Biodiversity-related Conventions on the GBF, held in Bern from 10 to 12 June 2019; and
  • invites the Executive Director of UNEP, in her capacity as the Chair of the UN Environmental Management Group, to facilitate UN-wide contributions to the GBF.

Other Matters

On Friday, Musonda Mumba, UNEP, briefed participants on the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, including plans to restore 350 million hectares of land by 2030 and aligning this work with the SDGs.

Egypt reported on its efforts to form agricultural alliances to conserve and sustainably manage 200 million acres of degraded African ecosystems restored via payments for ecosystems services model.

Adoption of the Report

On Friday, delegates discussed the scope of the report of the meeting. They debated at length whether to include substantive views from participants and reflections from the Co-Chairs in the report of the meeting, or whether the report should be a purely procedural document. They finally adopted a meeting report containing only procedural elements, on the condition that a compilation of all additional statements received be made available online. The WG adopted the report of the meeting (CBD/WG2020/1/L.1), on the condition that a compilation of all additional statements received be made available online.

Closure of the Meeting

The closing session was held on Friday afternoon. Recalling the adage “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step,” CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Paşca Palmer said this week has served as a first step, and a good basis to create a zero draft. She noted the good energy and smooth discussions in the room, saying the path ahead is clear, and the WG is on its way to responding to society’s calls for action on biodiversity issues.

The African Group urged that the GBF process ensures regional balance and reflects the critical role of IPLCs, youth, and women. On the future work programme, he said work should be fast-tracked but that more time may be needed for the third meeting of the WG in order to deliver a negotiated document to CBD COP 15. New Zealand, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Japan, lauded the organization of information sessions provided during lunchtimes, saying they were informative and useful for the work of the WG.

The Asia and Pacific Group said the 2050 Vision “living in harmony with nature” has played an important role in galvanizing action and should remain prominent. She said the GBF should ensure a bottom-up approach, and focus on the three objectives of the Convention, and means of implementation.

The EU said the week has fostered a common understanding of the GBF and welcomed the broad understanding of the need for transformative change and SMART targets. He said that parties “owed it to the youth to do all we possibly can so future generations can live in harmony with nature.”

GRULAC emphasized that biodiversity is not an isolated field but is linked to a larger chain, and urged ensuring science-based solutions, and ensuring co-benefits. Central and Eastern Europe noted the busy upcoming intersessional period and emphasized that it will need the commitment and active participation of all parties and actors to ensure there are well-formulated goals and targets in time for COP 15.

Bahamas, on behalf of Small Island Developing States, highlighted the need for the GBF to be ambitious and to address, among others, indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, ABS, and resource mobilization. China, as the incoming Presidency, celebrated the productivity of this meeting, and looked forward to continuing working with the Secretariat to enhance consultations with stakeholders and parties in advance of CBD COP 15.

Co-Chair van Havre thanked participants for their positive spirit throughout the week, and Co-Chair Ogwal called upon all participants to retain their spirit of hard work and solidarity, and move with confidence towards COP 15. Co-Chair Ogwal gaveled the meeting to a close at 7:43 pm.

A Brief Analysis of the Meeting

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb

 

The “almost utter failure” of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.  This was the uneasy backdrop to the first meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).

Alarming statistics show that the dangerous decline of biodiversity is creating an urgent global threat to the quality of life, and the deterioration of ecosystem services such as the provision of clean air, water, and food is threatening to make our planet uninhabitable. This uneasy message provided the setting to first meeting of the Working Group to develop a post-2020 global biodiversity framework and, as such, much of the week’s discussion focused on lessons learned over the past decade and how to dramatically shift global action onto a more successful course beyond 2020.

The four-day meeting of the Working Group was not for negotiations, but aimed instead at agreeing on the scope and structure of the GBF and setting the future work plan of the Working Group. Many participants took the opportunity to step back and focus on where we have come from (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (Aichi Targets)), what we have learned (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), and where we are going (the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15)). This brief analysis will focus on major lessons learned from the 2011-2020 Aichi Targets and the different levels of change that will enable a reinvigorated, visionary, and transformative framework for biodiversity in the post-2020 era.

Time for Change

Overwhelming and comprehensive evidence from the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released earlier this year shows that fundamental change is necessary if we are to halt biodiversity loss and meet the three objectives of the CBD: the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. It is therefore imperative, some said, to not only reflect on where and how we “lost track,” but to avoid repetition of the Aichi Targets’ shortcomings. How to make this change elucidated many comments during the week, some converging and others diverging around several familiar themes, including: synergies with other relevant international processes, biodiversity mainstreaming, resource mobilization and capacity building, communication, and the role of stakeholders including indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs), women, and youth. Participants often stressed the need for balance across both the Convention’s three objectives and its wide range of stakeholders in order to ensure that future work involves all and benefits all. Throughout deliberations, participants emphasized that one thing was clear beyond dispute: the time for this change is “yesterday.”

Winds of Change

With this unprecedented urgency in mind, what are the winds of change that will harness enough power to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, alongside fair and equitable access and benefit-sharing (ABS)?

How can the GBF become a conduit for strategic global change that involves all of society? The first meeting of the Working Group agreed on structuring the GBF around four thematic clusters: outcome-oriented elements (vision, mission, goals, and targets); enabling conditions and means of implementation; planning and accountability modalities, mechanisms and tools for monitoring, reporting, and review; and cross-cutting approaches and issues. Delegates highlighted many forces that would empower the GBF to achieve the desired ambition.

Communication was flagged as a key element for success, as several delegates highlighted the Aichi Targets’ inability to communicate the role of biodiversity for human wellbeing and a healthy planet. There were several calls to shift the narrative, including developing a strategy to broadcast clear, simple messages in a diversity of languages, formats, and media that would reach all of society.

Emerging from discussions around communication, participants considered developing an “apex” target: one inspirational target, similar to the 1.5°C climate target that is easy to communicate to the world. Opponents of this approach lamented that the time it takes to formulate such a statement takes away from discussing the key issues of the GBF, particularly means of implementation. Some added that the time allocated for the Working Group, as with the time for action to reverse biodiversity loss, is limited.

One party said there is a need to move from “ego-” to “eco-” systems of knowledge, shifting our worldview to see humans not as a stand-alone species, but part of the living fabric of a healthy planet. This, some noted, is indeed the foundation of global change that involves all of society: turning away from current production and consumption patterns, recognizing diverse views including indigenous and local knowledge, and enabling strategic partnerships with and among civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, IPLCs, women, and youth.

Transformative Change

The IPBES’s definition of transformative change was often cited throughout the week: “fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic, and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values.” This transformation, as stressed by delegates, requires a new worldview that transcends political, economic, and cultural divides and is catalyzed by a wide range of enablers including financial means, new technology, and scientific and indigenous knowledge. This wide range of enablers of change, as noted by many, also calls for an equally wide range of actors, and rules to allow and encourage sharing of experiences, technology transfer and funds for implementation. Others highlighted that transformative change is not a gradual change, but a strategic change facilitated by a strong GBF that drives a critical mass of activities and actors that transforms behaviors and worldviews.

Along these lines, delegates also welcomed the upcoming IPBES assessment on transformative change, expressing great hope that this, as with previous scientific and global assessments, will spur a positive movement for biodiversity and ecosystems based on conscious choices by society. During the week IPBES presented “levers” of transformative change as areas of intervention that can have disproportionally positive effects on biodiversity by tackling the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss. These include, among others: developing incentives and widespread capacity for environmental responsibility as well as eliminating perverse incentives; and reforming sectoral and segmented decision-making to promote integration across sectors and jurisdictions.

Developing incentives and widespread capacity speaks to the repeated calls to focus on financial arrangements and means of implementation. Several parties and stakeholders felt that by far the biggest failure of the Aichi Targets was slow mobilization of resources, and there were repeated and loud voices reminding participants that failure to address means of implementation will fundamentally undermine any sort of post-2020 action. One experienced delegate was heard hoping for an “outbreak of sanity” that will finally recognize that biodiversity targets need to be linked to incentives and access to financial and other resources.

On cross-sectoral cooperation, the Working Group’s discussions seemed to widely accept the need to mainstream biodiversity into key productive sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism. As UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen stated, without engagement from the private sector on the development of post-2020 targets, we risk repeating the weaknesses of the 2011-2020 era. Although a mainstreaming approach has been getting more and more attention over the past decade, only time will tell whether parties are willing to translate this currently theoretical support into specific, results-orientated action that targets key productive sectors. As Andersen said, it is key to “learn from our mistakes.”

Another frequent call throughout the week was for enhanced cooperation and synergies among the CBD and other biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements. Indeed, this has long been discussed and flagged as an area for improvement, and was addressed under multiple agenda items. A number of developing countries pointed to their already overburdened national focal points, urging the future GBF to streamline monitoring and reporting in this context. Delegates agreed to invite the UN Environmental Management Group to facilitate the contribution of the UN system to the development and implementation of the GBF.

Discussions on transformative change focused on changes expected from society, particularly better choices by consumers for sustainably sourced goods and services, sustainable use of resources by IPLCs among others. Many, however, noted that this bottom-up approach should be supported by a top-down approach that begins with a coordination of all biodiversity-related processes on how to tackle biodiversity loss.

Change in Time?

The first meeting of the Working Group brought a clear sense of agreement on the need for fundamental, transformative change to alter the fate of biodiversity on our planet. The question now seems to be whether we can plan and implement this transformative and ambitious change in time. Many noted this might well be the “last opportunity to raise the profile of biodiversity as essential to life and a healthy planet,” with one delegate saying “we owe it to our youth to do all we possibly can so future generations can live in harmony with nature.”

As one observer commented, it would be “embarrassing to repeat” the same actions that have had little or no impact over the past decade, but perhaps the legacy of the Aichi Targets will be that they will pave the way for working harder than ever to achieve truly transformative change on a global level. Indeed, many felt the week acted as a useful reminder of the lessons learned from the past decade to reaffirm the reasons why we are striving for a global framework for biodiversity: as a group of participants in the corridors highlighted, “a bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.”

This week was the first of a series of three Working Group meetings on the Post-2020 GBF, and was essentially “a listening exercise,” with wide-ranging proposals highlighting what should be incorporated into an effective GBF. As such, it seems to have provided a positive start. But this is just the beginning of a busy fifteen months of numerous consultations, workshops, and intersessional meetings. The roadmap to COP 15 in China is long and arduous and yet the time is short. Participants worked hard to ensure that appropriate benchmarks and a balanced approach to thematic consultations will be incorporated along the way. So while the GBF may appear far from complete, as a CBD veteran commented, “It seems impossible now, but it will all come together into something coherent.”

Delegates will need to be ready to make progress at the second Working Group meeting in February 2020, and to continue “learning from our mistakes,” to develop effective global means to protect and sustainably use the invaluable and irreplaceable biodiversity of our planet. The next fifteen months will tell whether enough momentum will be harnessed in time to save the 2050 Vision. There is much work to do.

Upcoming Meetings

UNCCD COP 14: The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is expected to review the progress made to control and reverse further loss of productive land from desertification, land degradation, and drought. dates: 2-13 September 2019  location: New Delhi, India  www: https://www.unccd.int/

Workshop on Landscapes and Seascapes Approaches: The United Nations University with support from the Secretariat of the CBD, the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, and the Kumamoto Prefectural Government, will hold an expert thematic workshop on landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation, in order to explore the potential of landscape approaches in terrestrial and coastal landscapes and as a contribution towards the 2050 Vision of “living in harmony with nature.” A report of the workshop will be made available to the second meeting of the post-2020 Working Group. dates: 2-6 September 2019  location: Kumamoto, Japan www: https://satoyama-initiative.org/events/2-6-september-2019-the-eighth-ipsi-global-conference-ipsi-8-and-thematic-consultation/

12th Pan-African Workshop on Access to Genetic Resources and Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization: This workshop will convene a wide array of African ABS practitioners and experts including policymakers, researchers and academia, private sector, local communities, civil society, development partners, and the media, with an aim to build critical capacities to harness the innovative potential of Africa’s genetic resources and traditional knowledge. dates: 9-13 September 2019  location: Cape Town, South Africa  www: http://pfbc-cbfp.org/events_en/events/ABS-Initiative-GIZ.html

Liaison Group on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: The Liaison Group is to prepare a draft of the biosafety component of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be submitted to the second meeting of the WG on Post-2020. dates: 22-25 October 2019 location: Montreal, Canada www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/CP-LG-2019-01

CBD thematic consultation on ecosystem restoration: The CBD Secretariat with the Government of Brazil will convene a thematic consultation on ecosystem restoration, bringing together experts nominated by parties to the CBD, other Governments, relevant organizations, and IPLCs. The outputs of the consultation will form the basis of a report, which will serve as input to the second meeting of the WG on Post-2020. dates: 30 October - 1 November 2019  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/POST2020-WS-2019-11

Seventeenth regular session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN): AMCEN provides advocacy for environmental protection in Africa and aims to ensure basic human needs are met adequately and in a sustainable manner, that social and economic development is realized at all levels, and that agricultural activities and practices meet the food security needs of the region. The seventeenth meeting will be held under the theme “Taking action for Environmental Sustainability and Prosperity in Africa.” The CBD Executive Secretary will attend to present on the post-2020 process and road to COP 15 towards mobilizing African leadership for a successful outcome at COP 15. dates: 11-15 November 2019 location: Durban, South Africa www: https://www.unenvironment.org/regions/africa/african-ministerial-conference-environment

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 : Rome, Italy   www : http://www.fao.org/plant-treaty/meetings /meetings-detail/en/c/1111365 /

CBD thematic consultation on the marine environment : The CBD Secretariat with the government of Sweden will convene a thematic consultation on marine and coastal biodiversity for the post-2020 GBF as a component of the 2020 Ocean Pathways Meeting. The outputs of the consultation will form the basis of a report, which will serve as input to the formal process and deliberations on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. dates: 13-15 November 2019  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/POST2020-WS-2019-10

WG8J 11:   The eleventh meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the CBD will examine the role of traditional knowledge, customary sustainable use, and the contribution of the collective actions of IPLCs to the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework. It will also consider any additional requests resulting from the first meeting of the WG on post-2020 and provide its recommendation to the second WG. dates: 20-22 November 2019  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/WG8J-11

CBD SBSTTA 23:   The twenty-third meeting of the CBD SBSTTA will review possible elements for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, including any implications arising from the IPBES Global Assessment, the draft of the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, as well as other relevant information and sources of knowledge. It will also consider any additional requests from the WG on post-2020. dates: 25-29 November 2019  location: Montreal, Canada www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/SBSTTA-23

Convention on Migratory Species COP 13: COP 13 of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals will convene to review implementation of the Convention.  dates: 15-22 February 2020  location: Gandhinagar, India  www: http://www.cms.int

Second meeting of the CBD Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: This meeting will develop a preliminary text of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework for further elaboration at the third WG on Post-2020.  dates:  24-28 February 2020   location : Kunming, China  www : https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020

CBD thematic consultation on capacity-building : The report of this thematic consultation will be made available to SBI-3 and the third meeting of the post-2020 Working Group. date:  1 March 2020   location: Kunming, China email : secretariat@cbd.int  www : https://www.cbd.int/meetings /

Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Digital Sequence Information: This expert group will make recommendations on how to address digital sequence information on genetic resources in the context of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. dates:  17-20 March 2020   location : Montreal, Canada  www : https://www.cbd.int/meetings /

BBNJ IGC-4: This session will continue to negotiate a new agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea related to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of 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: 23 March - 3 April 2020 location: UN Headquarters, New York www: https://www.un.org/bbnj/

CBD SBSTTA 24: The 24th meeting of the 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/

SBI 3: The third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation will consider a numer of items related to the preparation of the post-2020 GBF, including resource mobilization, mainstreaming, a gender strategy, knowledge management, national reporting, enhancing review mechanisms, and any new requests from the first and second meetings of the WG on post-2020. SBI 3 will provide its recommendations to the third meeting of the WG. dates:  25-30 May 2020   location : Montreal, Canada  www : https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020

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 CBD Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: On the basis of its previous work and work of the subsidiary bodies and other consultations, the WG will develop a text of the post-2020 GBF for consideration by CBD COP 15. dates:  27-31 July 2020   location : Cali, Colombia  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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