Sister Teresa Kotturan has written her final article for .famvin as UN representative for Sisters of Charity Federation. It is on COP15 an the historic landmark biodiversity agreement adopted there.
At the COP15, held in Montreal from December 7 – 19, 2022 all parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the Global Biodiversity Framework, to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s lands and water by 2030. It is very significant in the face of declining biodiversity worldwide – almost a million plants and animals are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. This agreement, if implemented has the capacity to halt the Earth’s sixth major extinction event. It is fundamental to human well-being and a healthy planet, and economic prosperity for all people. We need this agreement to help us live in balance and in harmony with Mother Earth.
The framework is built around a theory of change which recognizes that urgent policy action is required globally, regionally and nationally to achieve sustainable development so that the drivers of undesirable change that have exasperated biodiversity loss will be reduced and/or reversed to allow for recovery of all ecosystems, to live in Harmony with Nature by 2050.
2050 Vision and 2030 Mission – The vision is a world living in harmony with nature where: “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.” The Mission is to “take urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss to put nature on a path to recovery for the benefit of people and planet by conserving and sustainably using biodiversity, and ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, while providing necessary means of implementation.”
Some of the highlights:
- Use the framework, including its Vision, Mission and Targets as a strategic plan for the implementation of the Convention and its protocols – for transformative action my governments and with the involvement of all of society to halt biodiversity loss.
- Implementation should be guided by the principle of intergenerational equity which aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and to ensure meaningful participation of younger generations in decision making processes at all levels.
- The framework acknowledges the important roles and contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities as custodians of biodiversity and partners in the conservation, restoration and sustainable use. Implementation plans must ensure their rights, knowledge, including traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity, innovations, worldviews, values and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities are respected, documented and preserved with their free, prior and informed consent, including their full and effective participation in decision making.
- It is a framework for all – for the whole of government and the whole of society. Its success requires political will and recognition at the highest level of government, and relies on action and cooperation by all levels of government and by all actors of society.
- The implementation of the framework should follow a human rights-based approach respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling human rights.
- Framework acknowledges the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
- The goals and targets of the framework are integrated and are intended to contribute in a balanced manner to the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity: (1) conservation of biological diversity; (2) sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and (3) fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
- The framework is a contribution to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in all its three dimensions – environmental, social and economic.
- The framework has 23 action-oriented global targets for urgent action over the decade to 2030. Implementation of the targets should be initiated immediately and completed by 2030.
- Ensure that by 2030 at least 30 percent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Also, conserve and manage 30 percent of terrestrial, inland water, and of coastal and marine areas important for diversity and ecosystem functions and services.
- Eliminate, minimize, reduce and or mitigate the impacts of invasive and alien species on biodiversity and ecosystem services…
- Reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, by 2030, to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystems…
- Minimize the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on biodiversity and increase its resilience through mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction actions, including through nature-based solution and/or ecosystem-based approaches…
- Ensure that areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry are managed sustainably, in particular through the sustainable use of biodiversity…
- Ensure that people are encouraged and enabled to make sustainable consumption choices including by establish supportive policy, legislative or regulatory frameworks, improving education and access to relevant and accurate information and alternatives by 2030; reduce food waste and overconsumption.
- By 2025, identify and eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies, harmful for biodiversity, at least $500 billion per year by 2030
- Mobilize $200 billion per year from public and private sources to set up a new nature fund under the Global Environment Facility for the implementation of national biodiversity strategies. There is a call to increase financial transfers from developed countries to developing countries by at least $20 billion by 2025 and $30 billion by 2030 and voluntary publication by companies for monitoring, evaluation and disclosure of the impact of their activities on biodiversity.
- Strengthen capacity building and development, access to and transfer of technology, and promote development of and access to innovation and technical and scientific cooperation to meet the needs of developing countries.
- Framework wants to ensure full, equitable, inclusive, effective and gender-responsive representation and participation in decision-making, and access to justice and information related to biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as by women and girls, children and youth, and persons with disabilities and ensure the full protection of environmental human rights defenders.
- Ensure gender equality in the implementation of the framework through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to the three objectives of the Convention – especially by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resources and their equitable participation.
Like the Paris Agreement, this agreement is voluntary. Nobody will force governments to protect anything and there is no guarantee that individual pledges will materialize. Countries need to translate the agreed framework into national policies; it needs to become, like climate, a priority across government, not just by ministries on environment. Implementation requires responsibility and transparency as well as effective mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and reviews. Effective implementation and behavioral changes for sustainable lifestyles requires communication, education and awareness on the importance of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and fair and equitable sharing of benefits from its utilization.
We do not have the luxury of time, just until the end of this decade to halt and reverse the dramatic loss of biodiversity – Earth’s life support system. Saving nature is as important and urgent as the climate crisis. At the adoption of the agreement, Inger Andersen, the executive director of UN environment program said: “We need to change the relationship between people and nature. And if we are honest, time is not on our side. We’ve backed nature into a corner and it’s time to ease the pressure. We also know it is a remarkable thing and nature is very forgiving. If we give it half a chance, it will come back. Let us not pause for a second. Embrace the history we have made in Montreal and let’s get down to the business of delivering the framework.”
This historic Agreement was reached by 196 countries. Two countries have not joined the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: the Vatican and the United States. Through President Bill Clinton signed the CBD treaty on behalf of the US in 1993, the Senate refused to ratify it. During the COP15 negotiations, the US remained on the sidelines. To show its commitment to nature, the US has created a special biodiversity envoy and it is supportive of protecting 30 percent of the land and oceans by 2030. The US has pledged $600 million to the Global Environmental Facility over the next four years.
You can find the Framework here: https://www.cbd.int/doc/c/e6d3/cd1d/daf663719a03902a9b116c34/cop-15-l-25-en.pdf
Teresa Kotturan, SCN
Sisters of Charity Federation