What will happen at the UN Biodiversity Conference?
The main objective of the UN Biodiversity Conference is to successfully negotiate and adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), which will provide a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade. The framework is currently under negotiation in the Open-ended Working Group on the GBF. The first draft of the GBF was released in July 2021 and, building on lessons learned from the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets, recognizes that urgent transformation of our social and economic models is required for biodiversity conservation and the recovery of natural ecosystems.
Part I of the Conference, while being convened virtually, will include a limited presence of government delegates in Kunming, China. The Conference will feature plenary sessions on 11 and 15 October and a high-level segment from 12-13 October. The high-level segment is expected to focus on the preparations for the GBF and adopt a Kunming Declaration, adding political momentum to the negotiations.
Part I will further include:
- the Executive Secretary’s report on regional preparatory and intersessional meetings, including the work of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies;
- progress report on the work in preparation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework by the Co-Chairs of the Open-ended Working Group;
- reports from the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols’ compliance committees, with any substantive matters arising to be taken up during Part II; and
- consideration of a draft decision on the interim integrated budget for 2022, which is necessary to maintain the Secretariat’s functions pending the adoption of a full-term budget during Part II.
Prior to Part II of the UN Biodiversity Conference, the Working Group on the GBF, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) are expected to meet to finalize their deliberations. The meetings of the three bodies are tentatively scheduled to be held in person in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2022, subject to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
What is the Convention on Biological Diversity?
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted in 1992 and signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It entered into force on 29 December 1993. It aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The Convention currently has 196 parties.
Three protocols have been adopted under the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addresses the safe transfer, handling, and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. It entered into force in 2003 and currently has 173 parties. Adopted as a supplementary agreement to the Cartagena Protocol, the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress provides for international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from LMOs. It entered into force in 2018 and currently has 49 parties.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization sets out an international framework for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. It entered into force in 2014 and currently has 131 parties.
The CBD recognizes that biodiversity, in addition to plants, animals, microorganisms, and their ecosystems, is about people and their needs. Biodiversity decline directly impacts human wellbeing, health, productive potential, and resilience. Human societies are connected to nature, and economies heavily depend on the flow of ecosystem services and goods, including food, raw materials, pollination, water filtration, and climate regulation. The potential benefits of biodiversity conservation for people and the planet are not always properly calculated or understood, often requiring strong communication. Valuing biodiversity in decision making at all levels as a long-term sustainability priority is a precondition to slow, halt, and eventually revert nature’s accelerating decline.
The UN Biodiversity Conference last convened in November 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, under the theme “Investing in biodiversity for people and planet.” The Conference, among others, set up the Working Group on the GBF; established an intersessional process, including an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) to continue work on digital sequence information; and extended the online forum and AHTEG on synthetic biology.
The 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference comprises of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CP COP/MOP 10), and the fourth meeting of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (NP COP/MOP 4). The UN Biodiversity Conference was originally scheduled to take place from 15-28 October 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online plenary sessions of Part I of the UN Biodiversity Conference are scheduled to take place on 11 and 15 October between 3:00-6:00 pm (Kunming local time, UTC+8). The high-level segment will take place on 12 October between 2:00-5:00 pm and 7:00-9:00 pm, and 13 October, between 10:00-12:00 am and 15:00-18:00 pm (Kunming local times, UTC+8).
For the complete agenda see here.
You can download the Meeting Documents for the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity here.