Press Release

ACBA Supports the Africa Group Recommendations to the Convention on Biological Diversity

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As the world grapples with the growing concerns on biodiversity loss and climate change, policymakers from across the world have been deliberating on the next decade’s priorities that will forge a clear roadmap to sustainability.

In what has been a month-long virtual negotiation amongst experts, cracks in the deliberations have already begun to emerge. African parties have expressed their growing concerns revolving around the inequalities arising from virtual discussions and are calling for a more inclusive approach that ensures no one is left behind.

Last week, during the convening of experts deliberating the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on behalf of the Africa Group, reiterated the need to adopt the current negotiation text with the allowance of further deliberations when all stakeholders have been engaged.

African negotiators are constantly faced by power cuts, inadequate IT infrastructures, and poor internet connection affecting their ability to contribute adequately meaning that some of the negotiating documents in no way reflect the consensus of all parties, especially the perspectives of African parties as they have not been able to adequately participate.

As noted by DRC in their statement, “True, solid and informed consensus will only be reached when it will be feasible for us to engage in meaningful face to face negotiations, or when we have adapted our working practices to the virtual world and have found ways to accommodate the connectivity limits of the slowest among us.”  

It is in this light that the African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA) agrees with the position the Africa Group has taken to continue with the adoption of the current negotiation text with the understanding that it will be revisited once enabling conditions have been created for all parties to engage effectively. This is a position strongly shared by the CBD Alliance.

As ACBA observes the CBD process, we note that virtual negotiations have also limited the participation of official observers as they can only speak if time allows.  If we are to achieve the ambitious goals of the next strategic plan, it is critical that all parties and observers contribute and thus are invested in implementation.

Pauline Nantongo, the lead of ACBA’s Policy Working Group, emphasizes that “legitimate and credible negotiations must be underpinned by effective, transparent and inclusive participation that amplifies the perspectives of all actors. Only then, will consensus on critical decisions be possible.”

ACBA, therefore, commends the Africa Group for the correct decision taken to request additional time to review the outcomes of the negotiating documents relevant to the post-2020 GBF in order to ensure effective participation of Africa in ways that benefit not only the continent but also the world at large.

For these reasons, ACBA calls for the postponement of the OEWG3 and COP15 until a time when face-to-face meetings will be possible. This will also require an extension of the existing 2011-2020 Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity until a consensus on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is reached. To ensure continued and effective conservation in the interim period we strongly endorse a focus on bottom-up actions that meet people’s needs and maintain biodiversity actions.

ACBA strongly believes that creating a conducive environment for all parties to effectively air their views is critical to the negotiation process and essential for the success of its implementation. Africa is a key part of the solution to achieve the next decade’s biodiversity goals.