World's Governments commit to invest in biodiversity
Posted on: 24 Oct 2012
|Jayanthi Natarajan listens as Rachel Kyte, VP - Sustainable Development World Bank speaks at the High Level Segment meetings held at CBD CoP 11, Hyderabad. Also in the photo are CBD's Executive Secretary - Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza, as well as UNDP & GEF representatives|
Despite the economic crisis looming large over both developed and developing countries, governments reached an agreement thanks to much negotiations and a host of regional group-country meetings. The verdict of increasing funding in support of actions in order to halt the rate of biodiversity loss has been termed as 'successful' by parties to CBD since this was left outstanding from the Nagoya meet in 2010.
According to Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary – CBD, 'These results demonstrate that the world is committed to implementing the Convention and we see that governments looking at biodiversity as an opportunity to be realised more than a problem to be solved.' These sentiments were also echoed by Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests for India, and President of CoP11 when she said: 'We should invest more towards amelioration of the natural capital for ensuring uninterrupted ecosystem services on which all life on earth depends.'
The UN Biodiversity Conference has taken a renewed momentum forged two years ago in Nagoya that is reflected in its decisions. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner expressed that 'Countries have sent a clear signal and delivered additional commitments underlining the fact that biodiversity and ecosystems are a development priority and central to a transition to an inclusive Green Economy.' He also spoke of 'mobilising necessary financial resources from the public and private sector' that are needed to ensure achievement of the 2020 targets. 'However, many nations including developing economies have signalled their determination and sense of urgency to seize the opportunities by providing much needed additional support,' Steiner applauded.
|Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests, GoI addressing the media at CBD CoP 11, Hyderabad|
Resource mobilisation decisions seen as way forward
Key decisions at CBD CoP 11 included that developed countries agreed to double funding to support efforts in developing states towards meeting the internationally-agreed Biodiversity Targets, and the main goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This was seen as progressive by all parties.
Agreements on funding wrapped up after consensus on using the average annual national spending on biodiversity between 2006 and 2010 as a baseline figure. Developed countries said they would double biodiversity-related international financial flows by 2015, and targets to increase the number of countries that have included biodiversity in their national development plans and prepared national financial plans for biodiversity by 2015 were also set. All Parties agreed to substantially increase domestic expenditures for biodiversity protection over the same period. These targets, and progress towards them, will be reviewed in 2014.
For the first time, developing countries at COP 11, including India and several African states, pledged additional funds above and beyond their core funding towards the work of the CBD.
The conference also saw the launch of the Hyderabad Call for Biodiversity Champions. The programme will accept pledges from governments and organizations in support of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. The government of India, during the closing plenary of CoP 11, committed US$ 50 million as part of the programme.
The Global Environment Facility, the financial mechanism of the Convention, for the first time, was provided with an assessment of the financial resources required to meet the needs of developing countries for implementing the Convention.
Marine & coastal biodiversity on high priority
The 193 Parties to the CBD agreed to classify a diverse list of marine areas, some renowned for containing 'hidden treasures' of the plant and animal world, as ecologically or biologically significant.
Earlier this week, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched its Protected Planet 2012 report which found that half of the world's richest biodiversity zones remain entirely unprotected despite a 60 percent increase in the number of protected areas since 1990. To meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of ensuring that 10 percent of marine areas are protected by 2020, according to the UNEP report, additional 8 million square kilometers (an area just over the size of Australia) of marine and coastal areas would need to be recognised as protected.
Parties to the Convention also called for more research into the potential adverse effects of underwater noise from ships on marine and coastal biodiversity, and highlighted the growing concern on the adverse effects of marine litter. It also recognised the growing challenge of climate change impacts on coral reefs, which, Parties agreed, will require significant investment to overcome.
New measures to factor biodiversity into environmental impact assessments linked to infrastructure and other development projects in marine and coastal areas received special attention and that included the Saragasso Sea, the Tonga archipelago and important corals sites off the coast of Brazil.
There was also a call to fisheries management bodies to play a stronger role in addressing the impacts of fisheries on biodiversity.
The series of agreements at COP 11 on oceans and coasts builds on the commitment of countries made at the United Nations Rio+20 summit in June to protect and restore marine ecosystems and to maintain their biodiversity.
Decisions to integrate ecosystems into national biodiversity plans
Much of the COP 11 negotiations revolved around practical and financial support for countries in implementing national biodiversity plans to meet the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
In reviewing global progress in implementing such measures, the CoP reaffirmed the need for enhanced technical and scientific cooperation among countries, especially underlining the potential for enhanced cooperation among developing countries. To support such efforts, a new National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans Forum (NBSAP Forum) was launch at CoP11 by UNEP, CBD, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Development Programme (UNDP). The online forum provides easy-to-access, targeted information such as best practices, guidelines and learning tools for countries.
UNEP's Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Initiative also presented a series of practical guides for governments at CoP 11 that aided in integrating the economic, social and cultural value of ecosystems into national biodiversity plans. CoP 11 also agreed to a number of measures to engage the main economic sectors such as business and development organisations in order combine biodiversity objectives in their plans and programmes.
CoP 11 developed new tasks in support of achieving Aichi Target 15 that calls for the restoration of 15 percent of degraded lands. This work was supported by a call, in the margins of the meeting, by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other bodies for concerted action in support of the decision.
A decision on climate change and biodiversity called for enhanced collaboration between the CBD and UN climate change initiatives including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Given that forests are home to more than half of all terrestrial species, initiatives such as REDD+, where developing countries can receive payments for carbon offsets for their standing forests, can potentially help achieve international biodiversity targets as well as those concerned with cutting carbon emissions. The verdict covers technical advice on the conservation of forests, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
However, the CoP also noted discussions around the need for biodiversity safeguards relating to REDD+ and similar incentives. Actions such as afforestation in areas of high biodiversity value, or the conversion of natural forests to plantations, for example, may have adverse impacts on biodiversity.
The CoP adopted recommendations for improving the sustainable use and management of species hunted for 'bushmeat' in tropical and sub-tropical regions, where large-scale hunting and trade of animals has led to 'empty forest syndrome'. This practice has increased the threat to food security, and the ecological stability of forests as well as other ecosystems. Together with FAO and other organizations, the CBD Secretariat will establish a global 'Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management' to support developing countries in the implementation of relevant CBD provisions.
CoP 11 also adopted a decision on protected areas that provides a framework for achieving Aichi Target 11. It calls for integration of national action plans for Protected Areas into revised National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.
The Conference welcomed the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) earlier this year and recognised the potential contribution it could make to enhance the effectiveness of the Convention. COP requested IPBES to contribute to assessments of the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It was decided that the Convention's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at its next meeting would provide additional explanatory information on the tasks requested from IPBES and that it would convey this information to IPBES before the its second plenary meeting at the end of 2013.
Decision on Article 8(j), relating to indigenous and local communities was adopted which provided a major component of work on customary sustainable use. The decision also advanced three tasks that may contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol including Guidelines related to priori informed consent, mutually agreed terms and others.
A parallel summit of Cities and Local Authorities was convened with the support of ICLEI was held on the sidelines of the High Level Segment meetings. Participants, Mayors from participating countries, adopted the Hyderabad Declaration on Sub-national Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity. This supports the work of cities to achieve the Global Strategy for Biodiversity and calls for greater coordination between levels of government.
Governments also provided guidance to the preparations for the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol and agreed that a third meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol will be needed in the upcoming two years. It was further urged to complete a number of tasks in advance of entry into force in a timely manner.
For a full list of decisions made at CBD CoP 11, please visit: www.cbd.int/cop11
Sangeetha Rajeesh is an independent development and environment journalist based in Chennai and is reporting from CBD CoP 11 at Hyderabad. She is Fellow – Environmental Reporting from International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) of GIZ, Berlin & Former Editor of Press Institute of India and Research Institute for Newspaper Development (PII-RIND).