Halting biodiversity loss is at the core of the Pacific uniting to prepare for global negotiations at the end of this year.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) aims to adopt a new global agreement known as the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This will determine global actions and commitments to save our biodiversity, following on from the Global Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which were adopted at COP10 in 2010 and are to be achieved by 2020.
After a two-year postponement filled with virtual negotiations due to COVID-19, the CBD COP15 will be held face-face on 7 – 19 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada.
A preparatory meeting is now underway in Fiji that will create a united Pacific voice to ensure the needs of our island biodiversity are reflected in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Around 65 Pacific island country participants, other SPREP Members and partners attending in person or virtually will create a Pacific strategy as our island Parties to the CBD prepare for the CBD COP15.
“Unless biodiversity loss is halted and reversed, it will cause significant damage to global economic and social resilience and stability,” said Ms Sandeep Singh, Director of the Fiji Department of Environment.
“Despite previous global agreements and targets for the protection, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity, and notwithstanding many local success stories, the global trends continue in the wrong direction. A transformative change is needed. Let us all to continue building on the momentum and commitment demonstrated through our collaborative actions with the power of unified Pacific voices.”
The five-day meeting brings together Pacific positions on key priorities for the CBD COP15 and across the targets within the Global Biodiversity Framework. Amongst other issues, this will include protecting our marine biodiversity, addressing invasive species, financial resourcing for biodiversity protection and addressing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
Ensuring a One Pacific voice will strengthen our position in the negotiations for an agreement on the new Global Biodiversity Framework that reflects Pacific interests. This was highlighted by the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Mr Sefanaia Nawadra in his opening remarks at the Fiji preparatory meeting, starting with a moment of silence to pay respect to the late Mr Joseph Brider, Mr Abraham Simpson and Mr Taito Nakalevu – champions for our Pacific environment who left a legacy of environmental success stories.
“The Pacific is unique and has long shown global leadership in uniting for preparatory meetings. This week, we hope to explore the technical issues but also clarify the region’s priorities and requests as we move towards the final stages of negotiation,” said Mr Nawadra.
“The Pacific comes ready to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework once it is approved. We already have a regional Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas that we will adapt as needed and the coordination mechanisms through the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation as well as the regional architecture for technical support.”
“We need you to provide your negotiators with the strong mandate to listen to each other, seek consensus and form solutions for that right mix of ambition,” said Mr Basile van Havre the Co-Chair of the CBD Open-Ended Working Group for the Global Biodiversity Framework.
“We call on you to engage with your counterparts in the region to carry your views through in the negotiations. We have significant work ahead of us.”
Working closely with fellow Pacific partners, Australia and New Zealand, to help ensure an amplified Pacific voice continues during the Pacific preparatory meeting in Fiji with plans to continue this support through to the CBD COP15.
Mr Richard Bontjer, Director for the Environment, Oceans and Biodiversity Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia noted, “It’s great to see people coming together for a more powerful voice going forward, we want to hear Pacific views as we want to understand how we can support this going forward. We want to know how we can work together with the Pacific voice.”
This was further emphasised by Mr Sam Good, Director, Biodiversity Policy of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, Australia.
“We are here primarily to listen and learn and strengthen relationships going into COP15. We would like to know more about what Pacific Small Islands Developing States' priorities will overlap with those of Australia. Where we have shared objectives, we would like to understand how we can work together to strengthen our position.”
The Pacific preparatory meeting in advance of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a hybrid of virtual, and a face-to-face event, held from 17–21 October 2022 in Nadi, Fiji.
Pacific island Parties to the CBD attending are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Australia and New Zealand are also attending, as well as regional organisations who are members of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas (PIRT), and other regional and global partners.
The Pacific Preparatory Meeting in advance of the CBD COP15 is facilitated by SPREP through financial support and assistance from partners including the Government of Australia through the use of the Australian Aid Identifier, ACP MEA Phase 3 Project funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, the Caribbean and the Pacific States for the ACP countries, GEF-UNEP ABS and the University of New South Wales.