COP15: Biodiversity draft eyes more funds, saving rich areas

Updated on Dec 19, 2022 01:47 PM IST

If agreed to, the non-paper, released on Sunday night (11am Montreal time) by China — which holds the presidency of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) — will be a historic moment when the world agrees to conserve global biodiversity by 2030.

The draft framework will be negotiated on till Monday. (AFP) PREMIUM
The draft framework will be negotiated on till Monday. (AFP)
ByJayashree Nandi

A non-paper on what would become the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was released on Sunday at the United Nations summit in Montreal and it seems to have tried to strike a compromise on the demands of developing and developed countries.

If agreed to, the non-paper, released on Sunday night (11am Montreal time) by China — which holds the presidency of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) — will be a historic moment when the world agrees to conserve global biodiversity by 2030.

The draft GBF will be negotiated on till Monday when the conference is scheduled to end. There has to be consensus for the framework to be adopted.

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One of the 23 targets of the GBF is to bring importance to the loss of areas of high biodiversity, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity, close to zero by 2030, while respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Another contentious target that the non-paper speaks of is substantially and progressively increasing the level of financial resources from all sources, in an effective, timely and easily accessible manner, including domestic, international, public and private resources by 2030, mobilising at least 200 billion US dollars per year.

Also Read | Equity among nations must to meet biodiversity targets: India at COP15

India was against a numerical target to eliminating harmful subsidies. That has been partially addressed. “Identify by 2025, and eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies harmful for biodiversity, in a proportionate, just, fair, effective and equitable way, while substantially and progressively reducing them by at least 500 billion United States dollars per year by 2030, starting with the most harmful incentives,” the GBF reads.

India was also against a numerical goal of cutting pollution to zero. The draft text calls for reducing pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, by 2030, to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

Target 3 of the GBF also called the 30x30 target is also in place. It states parties should ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 percent of terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

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“This draft text will have many compromises. The hard truth is that Nature has limits — exceeding them compromises life on earth now & the future. Keep advocating for change,” tweeted Aerin Jacob, director of Conservation Science and Research at Nature Conservancy, Canada.

The goals and targets of the framework should be ambitious, realistic and equitable, India said during the stocktaking plenary on Saturday evening local time. It also said India aligns with an ecosystem based approach rather than nature based solutions.

“Reversing ecosystem degradation and halting global biodiversity loss are essential for socioeconomic development, human well being, and for advancing global sustainability,” India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav said. “The goals and targets set in the global biodiversity framework should be ambitious, yet realistic and practical. Conservation of biodiversity must also be based on common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, as climate change processes affect biodiversity.”

India does not agree to numerical targets to reduce pesticide use, he added. “When food security is of paramount importance for developing countries, prescribing numerical targets in pesticide reductions is unnecessary and must be left to countries to decide, based on national circumstances, priorities and capabilities,” the minister said.

Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously benefiting people and nature, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. But several environmental and biodiversity experts are also critical of these solutions because they feel the term is vague and can go against the rights of indigenous populations and forest dwellers.

Nature-based solutions is not an agreed term under the CBD, according to a letter sent last week to ministers participating in COP15 by several civil society groups, including the Third World Network and the African Civil Society Biodiversity Alliance, among others. including it in the global biodiversity framework would be tantamount to signing a blank cheque, giving an undefined term a place in the implementation of a legally binding treaty, the letter said.

“Many of the principal actors using the term are corporates, using it t greenwash carbon offsetting projects that rely on nature,” the letter read. “The term ecosystem based approaches, however, has a long history of use in the CBD and is central to its implementation, (and) has a sound legal basis and clear principles and safeguards.”

COP15 presidency China last week selected six ministers to drive consensus on contentious issues of the framework that include digital sequencing information and targets. Digital sequencing information is an emerging aspect of synthetic biology, which involves certain functional genetic sequences being shared, according to GRUR International, a journal on international intellectual property law.

Progress on finance remained tardy. Ministers tasked with resolving funding related issues said regional groups were largely in agreement with the overall amount of $200 billion a year by 2030 regarding global financial resources for biodiversity, including funding from all sources, according to a bulletin by the International Institute of Sustainable Development . Divergences, however, remain on the funding structure, the institute reported.

India will push for a separate biodiversity fund, HT reported on Friday. Senior officials of the environment ministry explained on Thursday why India did not agree with certain numerical targets for developing nations. For example, many countries are of the opinion that the loss of intact ecosystems and high biodiversity rich areas should be brought as close to zero as possible. India, on its part, is opposed to the use of the word “as close to zero as possible” and has urged for its deletion from framework.

The GBF calls upon member countries to protect 30% combined land and sea for biodiversity conservation. However, countries like those part of the European Union are in favour of targeting 30% land and 30% sea separately. “India has an extensive coastline and it will be difficult to achieve the target if 30% of sea area has to be conserved,” the official had said, seeking anonymity. India has suggested the use of overall protection of 30% area, including land and sea.

COP15, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) started on December 7 in Montreal, Canada. Over 10,000 delegates, including official representatives of 196 countries are participating in the negotiations, which Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the CBD, described to be the “Paris moment for nature,” alluding to the landmark 2015 Paris climate pact where all countries unanimously agreed to limit global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial times and make efforts to keep it within 1.5 degrees. The main objective of COP15 is to adopt an ambitious global biodiversity framework. The framework will replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which expired in 2020 and were considered to be a failure by many experts. There are 22 targets that countries will implement under the framework. Some of the contentious issues to be negotiated for the framework are the target to protect 30% of land and sea areas by 2030; review and monitoring of implementation of targets under the framework; and how funding will be mobilised for developing nations to achieve these targets.

In 2020, scientists sounded an alarm on the ongoing sixth mass extinction, which can lead to a complete collapse of humanity’s life support systems.

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