The second part of the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) will begin from 07 December 2022 until 19 December 2022 to negotiate and finalise the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (post-2020 GBF) that would hopefully effectively address the current biodiversity crisis. COP15 hosted by China will take place in Montreal, Canada. More than 18,000 delegates and participants have registered to attend this meeting both physically and online.
COP15 has been broken up into two parts as the post-2020 GBF has taken four years of intense discussion and negotiation. During the COP14 in Egypt, parties agreed to a post-2020 GBF after the Global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity or known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set for the period 2010-2020, ended, without it being implemented.
Unlike the Climate COP under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that just ended in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt last month, the CBD COP has never gained as much media traction as the former.
Prior to the start of COP15, Parties have come together at the 5th Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) between 03 and 05 December 2022 to discuss the post-2020 GBF and clean up the text where many parts are in brackets as they are contentious and yet to be resolved.
Parties at the 5th OEWG will have to deal with several contentious issues in the post-2020 GBF, including:
- The concept of 30 x 30 where 30% of the world (both land and sea) should be protected areas by 2030. This idea sounds good on paper but could be problematic especially when there are issues concerning and governance and management of these areas and the undermining of rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs).
- How much weight would be attached to human rights within the post-2020 GBF.
- The inclusion of false solutions and greenwashing concepts that apparently would solve the planet’s biodiversity crisis like offsetting and nature-based solutions as well as corporate self-regulation instead of governments regulating corporations.
- Whether there will be a real shift away from the biodiversity damaging industrial and intensive agricultural model and towards agroecology.
- Implementation of the framework with adequate financial resources to developing countries and the mechanisms necessary to ensure that parties fully comply with their commitments.
At the end of 05 December 2022, the OEWG will send the report of the meeting with the draft text to the COP15 for final negotiation by heads of member states to the CBD. Member states would have 12 days to negotiate and finalise a clean text to be adopted for implementation.
While intense discussions are underway, with negotiators racing against time to clean up the texts, the meeting is also seeing a huge presence of corporations in negotiation rooms and at planned side events influencing their way through COP15. A new report by Friends of the Earth International on corporate infiltration and influence at the CBD COP shows this fundamental conflict of interest especially when one of the main drivers of the biodiversity crisis are corporations.
The COP15 would be an opportunity for parties to urgently address the biodiversity crisis through the adoption of a strong GBF that strengthens the implementation of the CBD. Although the final outcome remains to be seen, we reject any form of green washing and false solutions couched within the post-2020 GBF text including language centred around vague concepts like nature positive. The framework must be based on human rights at its core with full recognition and respect towards rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
Finally, the GBF should be meaningful to address the biodiversity crisis including resources for developing countries to protect them.
Note: Parties refer to countries who are members of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Malaysia is a party to this convention.
For extra reading:
Introduction to the Convention on Biological Diversity
Third World Network Briefing Papers for the COP15
What is biodiversity and why the COP15 is important
Recommendations – A set of ingredients for a successful Post-2020 GBF