First part of UN’s biodiversity summit closes with strong progress towards treaty adoption

Almost 3,000 delegates participated in the 15th CBD, also known as the Biodiversity COP, the UN said in a statement. Around 2,500 of them attended virtually due to Covid-19.

The statement revealed that the round of talks helped to set the stage for the adoption of the UN’s post-2020 biodiversity targets internationally. In its current form, the draft plan outlines pledges to halt nature loss by 2030 and deliver a net-positive impact thereafter, that humanity may “live in harmony with nature” in all geographies by 2050.

The Kunming Declaration, adopted at the end of this week’s proceedings, states that parties are prepared to ratify the plan when the second half of the event takes place in-person next April and May. Before that, a meeting in Geneva will take place.

In preparation for the ratification of the plan, several nations have increased their commitments to finance initiatives that conserve or restore biodiversity, or create new habitats.

The Chinese Government pledged $230bn to create a ‘Kunming Fund’, which will be used to support projects overseas in developing nations as well as domestic initiatives. The Japanese Government, meanwhile, committed a further $17bn to its domestic biodiversity fund.

As for Europe, the EU committed to double overseas funding for biodiversity-related initiatives by the end of the decade.

As for the UN, it has committed to launching a new Global Environment Facility to support developing nations in rapidly implementing the solutions needed to meet their updated targets. The facility will seek to fast-track financial and technical support.

“With the conclusion of the first part of COP-15 we have taken a critical step towards writing a new chapter for our planet and for our societies,” said the UN’s executive secretary for the CBD, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema.

“The adoption of the Kunming Declaration and the strong political direction provided by many ministers has put us firmly on the path to the adoption of an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework that will engage the entire world in the task of putting nature on a path to recovery by 2030.”

China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runquiu, the event’s president, added that proceedings so far have “signalled renewed political will to boost ambition, enhance collaboration and maximize opportunities for synergies across other multilateral agreements”.   

However, he warned that “we are still facing a grim situation of unprecedented global species extinction”.  

Despite calls to action from large businesses, investors, NGOs and scientists, commitments were not made to strengthen certain parts of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Calls have been made for the UN to provide more information on the science behind the framework and to accelerate timelines for tipping to a net-positive impact globally. There have also been requests for more information of how the delivery of the new targets will be financed.

The world ultimately failed to deliver the UN’s pre-2020 Aichi biodiversity targets.

Sarah George

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