A ministerial roundtable on enhancing ambition and cooperation on nature for climate action took place at COP28 in Dubai on Monday December 4th, highlighting the key role of biodiversity.
The meeting opened with the intervention of the Colombian Minister of the Environment, María Susana Muhamad González, who recalled that her country is covered in forests for 52%, and that therefore for Colombia the protection of nature is a matter of survival. Gonzalez stressed that local communities and people will only be able to adapt to climate change as long as natural ecosystems are also able to adapt.
From the point of view of emissions, deforestation is a senseless choice given that deforesting an area for economic purposes leads new economic activities to emit CO2 into the atmosphere and at the same time eliminates forest, a very powerful “tool” for capturing greenhouse gases. This is why Colombia’s request is to bring negotiations on climate and biodiversity to a point of convergence, given that the transition necessary to stop climate change cannot occur without a transition that protects biodiversity and nature. For example, minerals essential for the energy transition are usually mined in areas rich in biodiversity. It is therefore essential that the ecological transition also takes into account the protection of biodiversity, otherwise it will not be possible to achieve any ambitious objective, either from the climate point of view or in terms of biodiversity conservation.
Germany then intervened, recalling how climate change and biodiversity are interconnected and without one the objectives relating to the other cannot be resolved. For this reason, an open letter was published with the aim of bringing nature and biodiversity to the center of Global Stocktake (which we talked about here).
The key points remembered during the round table:
- Ensure that the objectives contained in the Kunming-Montral Agreement on biodiversity are considered in the Global Stocktake underway at COP28. The GST should not be limited to mitigation in the strict sense, but take stock of where we are in terms of nature protection.
- Create a shared negotiating agenda between climate change and biodiversity protection. Biodiversity should not be limited to a thematic day at the climate COP but be an integral part of the negotiating agenda.
- Integrate national objectives by including those relating to the protection of biodiversity in the commitments made on the climate front.
During the round table, a representative of the CBD (UN Convention on Biodiversity) also said that he hoped that the protection of biodiversity would actually be included in the texts and decisions of the COP on climate, instead of just being the subject of a meeting parallel. In fact, let us remember that the importance of protecting biodiversity is recognized in the Paris Agreement. This is what the preamble says:
Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and noting the importance for some of the concept of “climate justice” in undertaking actions to address climate change.
An approach to conservation that takes into account respect for human rights and places indigenous peoples at the center of the process is the basis of the success of the Kunming-Montreal Agreement. And even within the open letter presented at COP28 the objective is to implement ambitious regulatory safeguards that put indigenous populations and local communities at the center.
Article by Margherita Barbieri, delegate of the Italian Climate Network at COP28
Cover photo: UNFCCC