Global Paris-style biodiversity agreement ‘lacks scientific basis’, researchers warn

Efforts to formulate a "Paris-style" agreement to halt global biodiversity loss lack definition, fails to align with the scientific need to reverse nature loss and place Indigenous People at risk, according to a global alliance of NGOs.

Global Paris-style biodiversity agreement ‘lacks scientific basis’, researchers warn

Two technical committees of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have commenced meetings running through to mid-June to formalise a ‘global biodiversity framework’ that would be adopted by governments across the globe, akin to the Paris Agreement aimed at combating global average temperature rise.

National governments met in February 2020 to discuss the UN’s 20-point draft plan that featured commitments to protect at least 30% of the planet. The plan states that a third of the world’s oceans and land should be protected to reverse biodiversity decline. Doing so, the report states, is vital to the survival of humankind and will avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction.

Discussions of this plan were delayed on account of the coronavirus pandemic, with the ‘Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’ set to be adopted by governments when the Conference of Parties to the CBD meets in Kunming, China, on October 21, for its own COP summit.

However, with technical meetings underway, an open letter from the CBD-Alliance calls for the proposals to be rejected in favour of a more ambitious action plan aimed at protecting biodiversity. The Alliance notes that the proposed framework fails to properly integrate feedback on the earlier drafts that were submitted to the CBD.

In the letter, the CBD-Alliance, consisting of hundreds of NGO members and academic experts, warns that the proposed framework omits “critically important” responses to biodiversity loss, notably by reducing over-consumption in developed countries.

The Alliance also warns that the proposal that 30% of Earth should be covered by protected areas “lacks a scientific basis and lacks conditions to ensure equitable governance of such areas”. The framework also fails to include mention of the rights and involvement of groups like
Indigenous Peoples, women and local communities that need to be safeguarded as part of conservation efforts.

Additionally, the letter expresses concern that governments will focus on “nature-based solutions”, arguing that the concept lacks definition and could result in cases of mass afforestation through alien monoculture tree plantations.

Original feedback on the framework last year was also largely negative. Green groups criticised the fact that parts of the 20-point plan weren’t an improvement on the global biodiversity agreement set in 2010, the Aichi targets. This framework also featured 20 biodiversity ambitions that expired last year. Nations were unable to meet the Aichi targets.

Biodiversity, as a corporate and political concept, remains largely undefined. The publication of the Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity is the latest major piece of work attempting to explore the role of natural capital in delivering planetary, societal and economic prosperity.

edie Explains: Biodiversity and Business

What is the relationship between biodiversity and business? What are the operational challenges and opportunities surrounding biodiversity? And what steps can be taken to reverse nature loss and restore natural habitats? This free edie Explains guide answers all of those key questions and more.

Produced in association with The Woodland Trust, this guide answers all of the questions that businesses might have in relation biodiversity – a topic that is rising in prominence in the run up to the COP26 climate talks, and beyond.

Click here to download the report.

Matt Mace

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