Governments, scientists, and environmental activists from around the world have gathered at Montreal, Canada to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process. Delegates will focus on resource mobilization, enhanced transparency, access and benefits of sharing of digital sequencing information from genetic resources.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen called for urgent action for nature COP15 and said that “negotiations must succeed” at the opening press conference in Montreal. “We cannot afford to continue thrashing a path through the fragile web of nature and biodiversity to clear the way for human development. Species, ecosystems, and the benefits that they provide, upon which we all depend, are degrading and slowly dying,” she said. “We have but a few days to act decisively and with principle. Action must be bold, not bracketed so we have to get the deal done.”
The loss and degradation of biodiversity comes with a cost we measure in not just dollars but in livelihoods, hunger, disease, vulnerability, well-being and deaths. We did this to ourselves. But this COP is our chance to start protecting and repairing the web of life.
At this meeting, we need to see an ambitious and effective post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, with clear targets and benchmarks, she said while adding, a framework that faces down the five horsemen of the nature apocalypse, defined by IPBES: changing land- and sea-use, over exploitation of species, climate change, pollution and invasive non-native species. That deals with the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss: including harmful subsidies, misdirected investment and unsustainable consumption and production. That delivers for everyone, everywhere: indigenous peoples and local communities, urban populations, and those whose livelihoods depend directly on the sustainable use of nature. That helps address the wider triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. That recognizes sovereign and traditional rights and the wider values of biodiversity. That ensures the equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, whether through digital sequence information or otherwise.
And with agreement on the plan, it will need to be delivered – in full, urgently and across all of society. This means agreeing here at the COP on sufficient resources, and on ensuring greater transparency on progress that must be made in implementation. We have but a few days to act decisively and with principle. Action must be bold, not bracketed – so we have to get the deal done.
Once adopted, the Global Biodiversity Framework will serve as a plan to conserve, sustainably use and rebuild the web of life. The negotiations must succeed here at COP. If the web of life falls, we will fall with it. But if we shore it up and make it stronger, it will carry the full weight of humanity for centuries to come.
The writer is a Delhi-based freelance journalist, who has reported and written on a wide range of subjects in an extensive career.