Amidst all that is going on in the world today, the fight to halt the loss of biodiversity is ongoing. Unfortunately for the Pacific islands region, we struggle to be heard from afar, to ensure our concerns are accounted for in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to be finalised and endorsed at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15).
COP15 was originally scheduled to be held in 2020, now two years later it is scheduled to be held in the third quarter of 2022 in Kunming, China.
Another round of intersessional meetings leading to COP15 have just been completed. Hosted in Geneva, the meetings were face-to-face but unfortunately, no Pacific islands country representatives were able to attend in person. However, Fiji, Samoa and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) participated through an online portal.
“We’re two years behind in having a new global framework in place to halt biodiversity loss, a framework that is important to us in the Pacific islands given our region governs 10% of the world’s oceans and our biodiversity ensures our strength and resilience against climate change and natural disasters,” said Ms Amanda Wheatley, the Biodiversity Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets established in 2010 committed the world to achieving set targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. Now, this has come and gone without fully achieving those targets a new framework is being established. But this is not happening fast enough for our Pacific islands region.
The event in Geneva was the first in-person meeting to be held in two years and has produced the first negotiated text of goals, targets and supporting mechanisms for a post-2020 global framework for nature.
“Pacific species are under pressure for survival in the face of competition with invasive species, climate change, and habitat destruction. We need to make sure Pacific island's biodiversity concerns and needs are reflected in this new framework.”
The 15 days of negotiations in Geneva resulted in progress toward a solution for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from Digital Sequence Information on the use of Genetic Resources. It was agreed that intersessional work will address resource mobilisation and a monitoring framework as well as other issues. Yet more must be done.
A fourth meeting of the working group on the Global Biodiversity Framework will be held on 21 – 26 June in Nairobi, Kenya before the adoption of the Framework at the CBD COP15 in Kunming, China.
Since COVID-19 struck and the CBD COP15 was postponed, the Pacific islands have been empowered at the regional level through SPREP assistance to do what has been needed to progress their ambitions for biodiversity protection.
The 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, a virtual event, hosted by New Caledonia in partnership with SPREP and the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas (PIRT). This event was a key part of formulating the new Pacific Islands Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas 2021-2025.
The State of Environment and Conservation in the Pacific Islands: 2020 Regional Report, launched at the Nature Conference in 2020, is a key tool for supporting regional monitoring and reporting including against the new indicators and targets being negotiated for the Global Biodiversity Framework.
Work will soon be underway to work with Pacific islands Parties to the CBD to strengthen their strategy for engagement at CBD COP15. This will be the final meeting that has taken into account the second extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity that was held in November 2020, and the intersessional meetings now finished in Geneva. These were the final opportunities to bring a framework closer to completion for all Parties to discuss and endorse at CBD COP15.
“It has been difficult these past two years as our Pacific islands countries have tried to find theirr way through the online negotiations, while trying to cope with not only COVID-19 impacts but also natural disasters,” said Ms Wheatley.
“We’re looking at a busy four months ahead as we navigate our way towards amplifying our Pacific voice at the CBD COP15, collectively and strategically. This is a crucial time for us all, but we look forward to being heard at this event.”
The resumed sessions of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3), originally scheduled for 12-28 January 2022 took place on 14-29 March 2022.