By Sonia Peña Moreno
“Biodiversity is fundamental to human well-being, a healthy planet, and economic prosperity for all people, including for living well in balance and in harmony with Mother Earth. We depend on it for food, medicine, energy, clean air and water, security from natural disasters as well as recreation and cultural inspiration, and it supports all systems of life on earth.”
This is the first paragraph of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at the end of the long-awaited 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) or better known as the UN Biodiversity Conference in December 2022.
Although nature underpins the world economy and up to 50% of global GDP is linked to nature and biodiversity, it is declining at the fastest rate in human history. Over the last few decades, the planet has been experiencing record temperatures, and impacting ecosystems and the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide. Natural catastrophes are increasing in frequency and intensity, with overwhelming effects on human lives and economic costs. Compounding these factors, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought nations to a halt, compromised healthcare systems, caused millions of deaths around the world, wrecked economies and jobs, exacerbated poverty and ultimately, evidenced our broken relationship with nature. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that there were high expectations surrounding COP15, with calls for the adoption of an ambitious agreement to reverse this downward and dangerous trend.
"The framework provides a roadmap that aims to ease, enable, and fund action essential to address biodiversity loss and put us all on a path to recovery and achievement of the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature."
In 2023, the urgency of the situation will remain unchanged. Nevertheless, we now have the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to guide us. The framework provides a roadmap that aims to ease, enable, and fund action essential to address biodiversity loss and put us all on a path to recovery and achievement of the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. The agreement represents a balanced outcome, following complicated and contentious negotiations over the last four years. This process entailed virtual gatherings, meetings and discussions among parties, intense ministerial consultations in Montreal, and the intervention of the Chinese COP Presidency towards the end of the COP to propose a package deal that all delegations could agree to.
The final package of decisions linked to the framework includes the following. First, the GBF itself, spells out its four 2050 goals and twenty-three 2030 action targets aimed at driving action to solve the biodiversity crisis. Second, indicators to track implementation progress contained in its monitoring framework. Third, a resource mobilisation strategy that proposes, through two-year phases starting in 2023, a flexible framework to deploy financial resources from all sources to implement the action targets, all in accordance with national circumstances. Fourth, a decision on the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources (DSI) and the establishment of a multilateral mechanism for sharing the benefits – monetary and non-monetary - derived from the use of DSI. The decision on DSI has been considered a key milestone in the Convention’s process as it recognises technological advances in this area, the need for the CBD to adapt to them, and provides clarity for developed and developing countries alike on benefit-sharing modalities. Fifth, a decision on capacity building and development, which adopts a long-term strategic framework for capacity building that responds to the needs identified at the national level to move forward with the implementation of the GBF. And sixth, the COP adopts a multidimensional and strengthened approach to planning, monitoring, reporting, and review.
Looking at the previous decade’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets, some consider the new Kunming- Montreal Targets “SMART-ER”, meaning they are more specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Only time will tell whether these new targets can enable effective, concrete and incremental action at the national and global levels to tackle the biodiversity crisis by 2030, achieve recovery and restoration by 2050 and thus pave the way for a nature-positive world in the long run.
"What is clear is that 2023 must be the year when we truly turn the page, leave the entrenched national positions that characterised the negotiations aside, and swiftly move towards implementation."
In the meantime, what is clear is that 2023 must be the year when we truly turn the page, leave the entrenched national positions that characterised the negotiations aside, and swiftly move towards implementation. We are well equipped to do this, and are backed by appropriate scientific and technical data relating to biodiversity, the relevant tools and mechanisms.
However, at least two conditions must be met for the implementation of the new framework to be effective. First, sustained financial resources must be secured and invested in conservation action, particularly in developing countries, and pledges must be maintained. This will be essential for economies transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards financing large-scale green investments. This is precisely why the COP decision on resource mobilisation is so relevant. In effect, COP15 recognises the urgency to increase international biodiversity finance. Considering the need for adequacy, predictability, and the timely flow of funds, parties decided to establish a dedicated and accessible GBF Fund in 2023 to quickly mobilise and disburse additional resources from all sources, proportionate with the ambition of the GBF. One of the action targets in the framework, Target 19, complements this decision by calling for “substantially and progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources, in an effective, timely and easily accessible manner, … and by 2030 mobilising at least 200 billion USD per year…”
"The Global Biodiversity Framework will only succeed if all actors and sectors contribute to its implementation. International Geneva can play a key role in this respect."
Second, the Global Biodiversity Framework will only succeed if all actors and sectors contribute to its implementation. The contributions of non-state actors, civil society, women, youth, indigenous peoples, businesses and others are indispensable as are those of all sectors and domains of society – from health, trade, and food, to energy, peace and security to name a few.
International Geneva can play a key role in this respect. The myriad of international and civil society organisations based in Geneva will be essential players in translating the Global Biodiversity Framework into their own operations, contributing to maximising cross-sectoral integration and cooperation, and aligning actions and plans to connect to the GBF. In doing so, they also create synergies with the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Mechanisms like the UN Environment Management Group and its UN Common Approach to Biodiversity, that bring together 51 UN agencies, many of which have offices in Geneva, could become hubs for active collaboration and discussion around joint implementation of the Kunming-Montreal GBF. The same can be said about the 100 or so organisations that are part of the Geneva Environment Network.
While biodiversity sustains our life on this planet, its conservation cannot solely be the business of the so-called “biodiversity community”. Welcoming and empowering participation of different sectors and stakeholders in this endeavour will not only unleash and increase further awareness across society on the importance of biodiversity, but also ensure a critical mass of involved citizens who are willing to be agents of the much-needed, whole-of-society transformative change that the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework advocates for. This is, afterall, our collective responsibility.
About the Author
Sonia Peña Moreno is the Director of the International Policy Centre at the IUCN Secretariat. She has been affiliated with IUCN in different capacities for close to 20 years now. She holds professional degrees in Political Science and Modern Languages from the University of Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, and obtained her Master's in International Relations from the Geneva Graduate Institute in 2002.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Geneva Policy Outlook or its partner organisations.