italian climate network COP15 BIODIVERSItÀ - NAIROBI


The last session of preparatory negotiations for COP15, the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), began on Monday in Nairobi. We had reported in this article how COP15 was supposed to take place in 2020, but due to the pandemic it was postponed to 2021 and divided into two parts, the first held in October 2021 in virtual mode and the second in presence. 

During the opening plenary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the CBD, announced that the conclusion of COP15 will take place from 5 to 17 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada, home of the Convention Secretariat. The decision to move COP15 from China to Canada is due to the continuing outbreak of COVID-19 in China and the zero-case policy implemented by the Chinese government. China, which holds the chairmanship of a major UN environmental agreement for the first time, will retain the presidency of the event and the responsibility for organising the conference, but will do so in coordination with the Canadian government. The choice also seems to have been dictated by fears about the prohibitive cost for smaller countries to attend COP15 if it was held in China, as well as concerns about restrictions on access to civil society and the press.

Moreover, the decision to postpone COP15 by another four months reveals the will to allocate all the time available, until the end of the year, to reach a global agreement that is as shared and ambitious as possible and that can be adopted during COP15. Indeed, it is crucial to make significant progress this week in Nairobi in order to achieve important results at COP15. 

As UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen mentioned, the priorities during these negotiations are several. 

First, increasing ambition and working on measurability of targets to halt global biodiversity loss. In the draft agreement several numerical targets are included in the text, but there are still too many disagreements, and the numbers are all in the text in brackets. Without numbers and clear measurement tools to assess progress, the agreement’s targets will remain just promises.

Secondly, it is crucial to improve the mechanisms for planning, reporting and review. Only 6 of the 20 Aichi targets, the biodiversity targets for the 2011-2020 decade, have been partially met and no target has been fully met. This lack of achievements is worrying and cannot be allowed to happen again with the new targets for this decade, contained in the agreement currently under discussion. 

Another crucial point, and one of the most debated, is related to the financial resources needed to protect biodiversity. Disagreements must be resolved on how to align national and international public and private financial flows, as well as on how much resources should be allocated to biodiversity protection by 2030 and how much by 2050. 

The workload for the negotiators in Nairobi is high, considering that the negotiations will last less than a week. The expectations are to arrive at a shared text with as few bracketed words as possible, so as to facilitate its adoption at COP15 in December. 

Regarding of the work will be organised, at the close of negotiations in Geneva, in March, the different parts of the draft agreement were at different stages of development. While some parts were thoroughly examined, others were partially discussed and still others were not discussed at all. For this reason, in Nairobi the elements that were not sufficiently discussed in Geneva (such as sections A to E and H to K) will be addressed first. 

There is still much to be done to reach an ambitious agreement to protect global biodiversity, and these negotiations carry a huge responsibility: as CBD Executive Secretary Elisabeth Maruma Mrema reminded us, they are our last chance to achieve concrete results by the end of the decade. The expectation is that this meeting will produce a strong political signal to boost ambition by the end of the decade. 

The spotlight is therefore all on the negotiators in Kenya, and we look forward to the next few days of negotiations to analyse the outcomes. 

by Margherita Barbieri, Italian Climate Network Volunteer

Cover image credits: COP15 News 

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