COP15: In-person negotiations on global biodiversity treaty pushed back to 2022

In-person negotiations are now scheduled to take place in Kunming from 25 April to 8 May 2022

World leaders were set to meet in person in Kunming, China for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15). The discussions were set to take place in order to ratify a “Paris-style” agreement to Earth’s sixth mass extinction by improving biodiversity.

However, due to restrictions and health concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, China and the CBD have confirmed that COP15 will be split into an online event this year, with in-person negotiations to follow in 2022.

From 11-15 October, an official opening of the CBD will take place online, including High-Level Segment discussions that will aim to produce a “Kunming Declaration” on a global biodiversity agreement.

In-person negotiations are now scheduled to take place in Kunming from 25 April to 8 May 2022. These discussions will act as the second part of COP15. It is here that the global framework agreement will be presented to the CBD’s 196 Parties for a final reading and confirmation.

CBD Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema: “Addressing the challenge of halting ongoing losses of species and genetic diversity and the damage to our ecosystems will determine the well-being of humanity for generations to come.

“Protecting nature’s invaluable contributions to people requires that we harmonize our policies and actions at every level. The global biodiversity framework, based on the best available science and evidence, is fundamental to meeting these needs.”

The UN unveiled draft plans for the summit in July. The plan states that “urgent political action” is needed “globally, regionally and nationally to transform economic, social and financial models so that the trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss will stabilise in the next ten years and allow for the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years”.

The document notes that biodiversity loss will need to be halted by 2030 and a net-positive impact delivered thereafter. The draft plan targets a tenfold reduction in extinction rates and a halving of the risk of species extinctions by 2030.

Outlined in the plan are several policy “milestones”. On closing the financing gap for nature, for example, there is a commitment to progressively delivering at least $700bn in additional financing annually by 2030. Finance will come from governments and the private sector. Further targets will then be developed for the 2030s.

There are additionally 21 “action-oriented targets”, concerning specific policy moves, and overarching policy recommendations, including “fully accounting” for nature and its contribution to humanity in all relevant public and private decisions, as per the recommendations of the recent Dasgupta Review.

The CBD has also confirmed that a one-day “Pre-COP” meeting will take place on 30 August that will feature a virtual discussion of the heads of state and government. This event will include national commitment announcements from countries that are members of the High Ambition Coalition and signatories to the “Leaders’ Pledge for Nature.”  

A final working group meeting – together with meetings of two CBD Subsidiary Bodies on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice and Implementation – that will finalise preparations for the in-person aspect of COP15 is still “tentatively” planned to be in person in Geneva in January.

Matt Mace

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