We’re now into the second week of the COP15 in Montreal, the delayed nature talks under the Convention on Biological Diversity where countries have gathered from across the world to finalise and agree to a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. There’s a lot at stake: we are in the midst of a devastating biodiversity crisis and a strong agreement at COP15 could determine a positive future of global action on nature for the next 7 years up to 2030. On the flip side, an unambitious outcome from the talks could push nature’s decline even further, threatening the very foundations upon which our entire lives are built on.
We outlined our hopes for the talks in our last blog here.
What’s happened in the last week?
The pre-COP15 working group negotiations - which were meant to get the framework into a slightly more complete state for the main talks - left the draft text with even more issues to resolve than they’d started with. However, after this uncertain start, many were relieved to see there was a growing willingness to compromise from Parties to reach a consensus, and some tentative steps were made in the right direction.
Unfortunately this initial optimism has begun to wear off as we head into the last few days. There are concerns about the overall level of ambition in the text, and crucially concerns about the weakening of the plans for implementation of the GBF over the coming years. We know from the past that targets alone mean nothing, and a robust implementation framework is needed to ensure scrutiny of targets and actions moving forwards. Yesterday, a series of walkouts from groups of countries made clear that many are very unhappy about the state of play of the resource mobilisation discussion - a crucial piece of the puzzle that will underpin how this new framework is financed and able to be implemented across the world. Thankfully there is a feeling that there is potential for this to move forwards in the next few days.
As we move into the last stretch, Ministers from across the world are arriving today in Canada to get to the bottom of any remaining issues and work to push the final text of the GBF over the line. There is a lot on the Ministers’ plates - many of the goals and targets are still littered with brackets - which is where countries have yet to come to an agreement on wording. The stakes are high, as the ambition of the framework hangs in the balance depending on how these remaining brackets are dealt with. Although we’re frustrated that world leaders haven’t attended the talks, we’re hoping that the Ministerial presence in Montreal will help to secure an agreement for ambitious action that our natural world so desperately needs.
For more details on how the first half of COP15 has gone, RSPB have a good run down of the key issues in their blog here.
We’ve also gone to Link members who are out in Montreal to get a sense of what’s going on across different policy areas:
Whale and Dolphin Conservation
After a shaky start, we have seen some progress on several issues and willingness to compromise, which has its pluses and minuses for ocean conservation. However, there is still a lot of work to be done as ministers arrive this week to get the GBF over the line.
Two unofficial non-papers have been worked on by parties regarding ocean protection that will inform GBF targets. They focus on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), which are of critical importance to implementing 30x30 in the ocean. There has been significant progress and on one of the papers which describes what EBSAs are and what they need to do which has been approved to go to the plenary. Bittersweetly, there are currently doubts that the second paper will undergo enough progress to be presented at this COP.
We remain hopeful that the arrival of ocean conservation big hitters this week will prove fruitful and ensure that ambitious targets are set that lay the foundations for rapid rewilding of the blue majority of the planet. We urgently need to restore ecosystem engineers like whales and dolphins that can help us achieve our climate and biodiversity targets and return the ocean to a more natural, resilient and beautiful state.
In Montreal we urgently need to agree on a strong global policy framework to halt biodiversity loss. For the oceans, that means putting small-scale fishers and coastal communities at the centre of conservation and restoration efforts
Blue Ventures is at COP15 to advocate for a just, ambitious and equitable global biodiversity framework. We are here with small-scale fishers and coastal community representatives from five continents who have been sharing how they protect biodiversity whilst feeding the world, and the challenges that they face with industrial fishing, tourism, and out-dated models of ‘fortress’ conservation. Their messages are loud and clear: our oceans need protection, and we are the main caretakers - recognise our tenure rights, our management plans and include us in decision-making.
At the halfway point of the COP, however, we are increasingly worried that the negotiations will water down both efforts to stop marine biodiversity loss, and protections for indigenous peoples and local communities.
The Plantlife team is in Montreal to push for an ambitious and effective GBF that will help realise our vision of a world rich in wild plants and fungi. Alongside Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Kew we are the only solely plant-focused organisations and thus our joint exhibition booth has become somewhat of a plant hub!
On the sidelines, COP15 has been an amazing opportunity to build the global network for Important Plant Areas (IPAs), using Plantlife’s new story map which showcases IPA success stories from around the world. Our joint side event on IPAs was a tremendous success with more than 90 people filling the room to capacity.
As the second week begins, the lack of progress in negotiations is putting nerves on edge – we cannot waste this chance to get global agreement on restoring biodiversity. We’ve got renewed energy after our side event with WWF on grasslands yesterday to make sure they get equal recognition alongside forests and other ecosystems. We hope these final days and the arrival of ministers will bring similar new energy and a determine to secure the agreement that wild plants, fungi and all other life on Earth so urgently needs.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @PlantlifeInt to stay up to date with all our activities!
We’re 15 days into our time here in Montreal and the roller coaster continues! We’re trying to stay positive to push for an ambitious framework that is based on a strong foundation of resources and a robust implementation plan. There have certainly been signs of hope over the last weeks, not least the inspiring march on Saturday which brought people together to call passionately for change. We hope that Ministers arriving today will feel this call and know that the world is watching!
One piece we’re particularly pushing for strong outcomes on is the species-related pieces of the framework. Species are the building blocks of our ecosystems and make up the beautiful diversity of life on earth on which we depend. This framework must halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity, and be driven by robust, measurable goals and targets. Many of the key pieces that will make or break this are still in brackets, so we’ll be working hard to meet with countries to encourage them to hold on to ambition in these final days!
Image credit: Fiona Dobson, RSPB
The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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