“Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development”: Perspectives from the Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS)
The year 2020 marks the end of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011 – 2020) and the 20 global biodiversity targets (Aichi targets). The mission of the Strategic Plan was to “take effective and urgent action to halt loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet’s variety of life and contributing to human well-being and poverty eradication.
In 2020, notwithstanding the restrictions and disruptions brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations are ongoing to develop the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The Framework will be adopted at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), which will be hosted by China, in May 2021.
The post-2020 global biodiversity framework will enable the achievement of the Convention’s long-term vision of “living in harmony with nature”, where by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystems services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.
Climate change exerts additional stress on ecosystems, people and their livelihoods. Accordingly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change – warns that climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further at 2°C. The COVID-19 pandemic is an additional constraint to society and life in general, with an impact on human health, the economy and by extension, the environment.
It is against this backdrop that the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity is held this year – convened by the President of the General Assembly as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on 30 September 2020 – with the participation of Heads of States and Government. The theme this year is “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development”.
Where are we now?
The fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) report was launched at a virtual event on 15 September 2020. The report points out that none of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be fully achieved despite some partial progress in six of the Targets. It points to the poor alignment of national targets and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets as part of the reason for the slow progress: “The information from the national reports therefore suggests that there have been gaps in both the level of ambition of the commitments of countries to address the Aichi Biodiversity Targets nationally, as well as in the actions to reach these commitments .”
The report highlights the urgent need to address biodiversity loss, acknowledging that a decline in biodiversity will affect all people, but mainly indigenous people, local communities, the poor and vulnerable due to their reliance on biodiversity for their wellbeing. The non-inclusion of local and indigenous knowledge (LIK) and knowledge holders in processes and discussions to develop national biological strategies, was highlighted as a missed opportunity, by one speaker during the virtual conference launch event. The speaker sighted that the absence of LIK was partly to blame for the underachievement of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, with a call to include LIK at the heart of the Biodiversity 2050 Vision of living in harmony with nature.
The report further outlines eight transition areas to reverse the current trend, stressing that such actions “are fully consistent with, and indeed crucial components of, the goals and targets set out under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Change Agreement.”
The way forward
The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report (GRR), ranks biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as one of the top five risks in terms of likelihood and impact in the coming 10 years, showing the intricate link between protecting biodiversity and ensuring sustainable economic development. The loss of biodiversity negatively impacts on and the natural resources that we depend on for our food and livelihoods.
As the onus of protecting biodiversity lies with all countries at the international, regional and national levels, efforts will thus be required from all stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society and local and indigenous communities, to effectively address the drivers of biodiversity loss and ensure a reversal of the noted decline.
The OACPS Secretariat recommendations
The Secretariat of the OACPS will use the Biodiversity Summit as an opportunity, to encourage our 79 Member States to not only continue but enhance their efforts to contribute to the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. In this context, a few recommendations are offered:
- Ensure alignment of regional and national biodiversity strategies with the post-2020 global biodiversity framework;
- Strengthen or develop an effective monitoring and reporting mechanism;
- Identify and establish synergies with relevant multilateral environmental agreements, including, inter alia, the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement;
- Facilitate a wider involvement of stakeholders in the process, discussions and activities around biodiversity, such as local and indigenous knowledge holders, private sector and other groups of civil society including women and youth;
- Ensure concrete benefits to Members of the OACPS, from the following programmes, funding under the 11th EDF: Biodiversity and Protected Area Management Programme (BIOPAMA II), Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme, Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in ACP Countries (ACP MEAs 3), Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA+) and the Support Programme for ACP SIDS and Coastal Countries.