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  • K. Wilks

The COP 15 biodiversity negotiations just started. Why we should listen.

Some of you may not know that the COP Climate Conference on Biodiversity (COP 15) which followed COP27 in Egypt, commenced today in Montreal and continues through 19th December.

I knew this COP was happening both because of my ongoing interests in ESG, and also because I have a scientist friend who has been working in biodiversity for years and she is one of hundreds of experts working tirelessly behind the scenes to progress the critically important negotiations at COP15.


So imagine my surprise today when I Googled "COP15 Negotiations" to see the news coverage and had to scroll nearly to the bottom of the search page to find the one and only article by a non-government site - news outlet China Dialogue - ironically from one of the most polluting countries on the planet, but which offered an open and straightforward glimpse into the negotiations and their paramount importance. But where is everyone else? And why should we care? Because this COP looks specifically at the on-going deterioration of biodiversity worldwide and efforts by COP members to set and maintain meaningful safeguards to protect the animals, seas, lands and other living organisms that have no choice but to cohabitate the earth with humans.

Of particular focus is the primary target to establish hard protections of 30% of land and sea areas by 2030, hence the tagline "30 by 30".

[Image credit: Ivan Stecko; Cover image by Elianne Dipp]

This is an incredibly important conference because the health of the planet depends both on reduced GHGs but also the healthy propagation of the plants, insects, marine life and animal kingdoms that share it with us. Given the devastating human and financial toll from COVID19, which is believed to have originated from an invasive virus borne from an exotic animal market, the drive to influence harmonious cohabitation between people and animals has never been more important.

Efforts by this COP15 will directly contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the social development framework that documents and supports the 17 urgent umbrella goals for member countries to achieve measurable commitments by 2030, these addressing: water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanization, transport, science and technology. The COP will focus on the protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the development of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, "which recognizes that urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models so that the trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss will stabilize in the next 10 years (by 2030) and allow for the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years, with net improvements by 2050 to achieve the Convention’s vision of “living in harmony with nature by 2050”.

The framework contains 21 action-oriented targets for delivery by 2030, all with integrated themes of conservation, restoration, sustainability, and shared accountability (financial and otherwise). Here are the targets:


1. Reducing threats to biodiversity


Target 1. Ensure that all land and sea areas globally are under integrated biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning addressing land- and sea-use change, retaining existing intact and wilderness areas.

Target 2. Ensure that at least 20 per cent of degraded freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems are under restoration, ensuring connectivity among them and focusing on priority ecosystems.

Target 3. Ensure that at least 30 per cent globally of land areas and of sea areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and its contributions to people, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Target 4. Ensure active management actions to enable the recovery and conservation of species and the genetic diversity of wild and domesticated species, including through ex situ conservation, and effectively manage human-wildlife interactions to avoid or reduce human-wildlife conflict. Target 5. Ensure that the harvesting, trade and use of wild species is sustainable, legal, and safe for human health.

Target 6. Manage pathways for the introduction of invasive alien species, preventing, or reducing their rate of introduction and establishment by at least 50 per cent, and control or eradicate invasive alien species to eliminate or reduce their impacts, focusing on priority species and priority sites.

Target 7. Reduce pollution from all sources to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and human health, including by reducing nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, and pesticides by at least two thirds and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste.

Target 8. Minimize the impact of climate change on biodiversity, contribute to mitigation and adaptation through ecosystem-based approaches, contributing at least 10 GtCO2e per year to global mitigation efforts, and ensure that all mitigation and adaptation efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity.


2. Meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing


Target 9. Ensure benefits, including nutrition, food security, medicines, and livelihoods for people especially for the most vulnerable through sustainable management of wild terrestrial, freshwater and marine species and protecting customary sustainable use by indigenous peoples and local communities.

Target 10. Ensure all areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, in particular through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, increasing the productivity and resilience of these production systems.

Target 11. Maintain and enhance nature’s contributions to regulation of air quality, quality and quantity of water, and protection from hazards and extreme events for all people.

Target 12. Increase the area of, access to, and benefits from green and blue spaces, for human health and well-being in urban areas and other densely populated areas.

Target 13. Implement measures at global level and in all countries to facilitate access to genetic resources and to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, and as relevant, of associated traditional knowledge, including through mutually agreed terms and prior and informed consent.


3. Tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming


Target 14. Fully integrate biodiversity values into policies, regulations, planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies, accounts, and assessments of environmental impacts at all levels of government and across all sectors of the economy, ensuring that all activities and financial flows are aligned with biodiversity values.

Target 15. All businesses (public and private, large, medium and small) assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, from local to global, and progressively reduce negative impacts, by at least half and increase positive impacts, reducing biodiversity-related risks to businesses and moving towards the full sustainability of extraction and production practices, sourcing and supply chains, and use and disposal. Target 16. Ensure that people are encouraged and enabled to make responsible choices and have access to relevant information and alternatives, taking into account cultural preferences, to reduce by at least half the waste and, where relevant the overconsumption, of food and other materials.

Target 17. Establish, strengthen capacity for, and implement measures in all countries to prevent, manage or control potential adverse impacts of biotechnology on biodiversity and human health, reducing the risk of these impacts.

Target 18. Redirect, repurpose, reform or eliminate incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least US$ 500 billion per year, including all of the most harmful subsidies, and ensure that incentives, including public and private economic and regulatory incentives, are either positive or neutral for biodiversity.

Target 19. Increase financial resources from all sources to at least US$ 200 billion per year, including new, additional and effective financial resources, increasing by at least US$ 10 billion per year international financial flows to developing countries, leveraging private finance, and increasing domestic resource mobilization, taking into account national biodiversity finance planning, and strengthen capacity-building and technology transfer and scientific cooperation, to meet the needs for implementation, commensurate with the ambition of the goals and targets of the framework.

Target 20. Ensure that relevant knowledge, including the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities with their free, prior, and informed consent, guides CBD/WG2020/3/3 Page 8 decision-making for the effective management of biodiversity, enabling monitoring, and by promoting awareness, education and research.

Target 21. Ensure equitable and effective participation in decision-making related to biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities, and respect their rights over lands, territories and resources, as well as by women and girls, and youth.

The framework additionally acknowledges the need for appropriate recognition of gender equality, women’s empowerment, young people, gender-responsive approaches, "the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the implementation of this framework" all while acting in complement of the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) which include:


Framework Item K (Outreach, Awareness, and Uptake) is particularly noteworthy: Outreach, awareness and uptake of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework by all stakeholders (i.e the member countries) is essential to effective implementation of:

(a) Increasing understanding, awareness and appreciation of the values of biodiversity, including the associated knowledge, values and approaches used by indigenous peoples and local communities;


(b) Raising awareness of all actors of the existence of the goals and targets of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and progress made towards their achievement;


(c) Promoting or developing platforms and partnerships, including with media and civil society, to share information on successes, lessons learned and experiences in acting for biodiversity.


The work that these talented and tireless scientists, biodiversity experts, researchers, sociologists, business planners, and government agencies do is extraordinarily important. The outcome of the negotiations happening these next two weeks will help to shape a realistic, healthy and more harmonious landscape for all species (human, animal, and micro organism) to coexist and thrive on our one and only planet Your part counts - so stay involved! You can watch all sessions at COP-15 streamed live at cbd.int/live and the schedule of meetings/negotiations is HERE.

Kelli Wilks is a Management Consultant at Spring CPO where she advises clients on ESG priorities, procurement transformation, negotiation strategies, and supplier performance.


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