CLOCK TICKING IN COUNTDOWN TO UN CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS NATURE CRISIS
Updated: Dec 19, 2021
Just seventy-five days days remain until the start of an already delayed crucial global gathering in Kunming, China to agree a new ten year strategic plan for biodiversity. Assuming the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference goes ahead as planned with at least some element of face-to-face negotiations, it will be the final step in negotiating and agreeing a framework to address the current nature crisis.
Much work remains to be done before the conference opens on October 11, including completion of the final working group meeting to refine and negotiate the text of the framework. To date the timetable of crucial preparatory meetings has been heavily disrupted due to the pandemic; valiant efforts to prepare advice on the science and implementation of the framework through remote meetings have been challenging.
Timezone differences meant that some country delegates worked regularly through the night for weeks to ensure participation and dependence of consistent internet connectivity was a constraint for others.
Nonetheless some progress has been made; a first draft of the framework text and headline indicators have now been published. A huge amount rests on this – the framework has to galvanise action across not just governments, but also civil society including indigenous peoples, local communities and businesses. It also has to be seen to do so through transparency of reporting and demonstrable accountability of governments to deliver on the targets and goals they negotiate. Once finalised it will then be critical to create the will for resources to deliver the framework’s ambition.
This was always going to be a pivotal meeting, requiring a huge degree of global collective political will and setting aside of partisan political manoeuvring for the greater good of all to
address the complex issue of nature loss. COVID has made matters even more challenging though it may also have added to the urgency of recalibrating our relationship with nature.
The current draft framework structure is constructed to deliver the vision of the Convention of Biological Diversity – living in harmony with Nature by 2050. The goals and targets are intended to address threats and pressures upon biodiversity, the needs of people and tools and solutions. Nonetheless the plan’s success depends upon major issues which are in effect beyond the scope of the Convention to address, for example pollution. Biodiversity-focused policies and actions alone will not solve the biodiversity crisis so the framework makes it clear that a whole-of-government and society approach is necessary to make the changes needed.
And of course there will always be divisions about whether the framework, (which of itself is not legally binding), is sufficiently ambitious to address the wicked and complex problem of biodiversity loss and transformation of our food, energy, waste and other systems so that we can live more sustainably without adversely impacting the very systems on which we depend. Some will argue that targets and goals have not been met to date so how can even more ambitious ones be set? Others will argue that the targets under negotiation are not collectively sufficiently ambitious to set the world on a path to a sustainable future in which we live in harmony with nature.
Only time will tell but time is indeed in short supply.