AWF Statement on Ongoing Negotiations to the Convention on Biological Diversity
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Global Leaders Making a Case for Nature
Global leaders acknowledge that if we do not deliberately change the way humanity treats nature within the next decade, biodiversity loss may never be reversible. Recently, leaders of the G7 reaffirmed their commitments towards building back better together. The plea to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees has never been more urgent and the intergovernmental organization made up of the world's largest developed economies has come to a consensus to support a green revolution that creates jobs and cuts emissions to net-zero no later than 2050.
Prior to this summit, policymakers and negotiators from around the world had convened to shape the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to set similar ambitions for biodiversity. Unfortunately, not all Parties were present. Technological challenges pose a significant constraint on virtual negotiations and are limiting the much sought-after equality.
Given the barriers to participation, many African negotiators faced, the Democratic Republic of Congo, on behalf of the Africa Group as mandated by the African Union, reiterated the need to adopt the current negotiation text with the allowance of further deliberations when all stakeholders have been engaged. All voices and opinions must be heard - especially those from biodiversity-rich countries who, unfortunately, are the most affected by these challenges.
Why is the Africa Group Making this Call?
In an attempt to keep the momentum going for the Post-2020 GBF which was initially scheduled to be adopted in October 2020, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed to conduct consultative meetings virtually. Civil Society Organizations had warned the Parties at the time of the potential digital divide that would exclude or limit the participation of some Parties.
In the past month, African negotiators have not been able to contribute adequately to the sessions, as they are constantly faced with power cuts and poor internet connection. This means that some of the negotiation documents do not reflect the consensus of all Parties.
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 Wildlife Foundation (AWF) supports the position the Africa Group has taken to continue with the adoption of the current negotiation text with understanding that it will be revisited once enabling conditions have been created for all parties to engage effectively.
AWF notes that, if we are to achieve the ambitious goals of the next strategic plan, it is critical that all Parties and Observers contribute adequately to the outcome so as to ensure that they are fully invested in implementation.
AWF CEO Kaddu Sebunya reiterates: “The next 10 years are critical to our planet and the decisions that we make today and tomorrow, will inform the sustainability of life as we know it. Thus, every stakeholder must be engaged, and all nations must come together to work on improving financing and implementation mechanisms that have failed us in the past. No one can and should be left behind.”
AWF commends the Africa Group for the courageous decision taken to request additional time for all African Parties to have the opportunity to review the outcomes of the negotiating process and documents relevant to the Post-2020 GBF in order to ensure effective participation from groups that will bring about innovative practical solutions that benefit us all.
For these reasons, AWF calls for:
- The postponement of the OEWG3 and COP15 until a time when face-to-face meetings will be possible.
- The 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 a bottom-up action plan that meets people’s needs and maintains biodiversity actions.
- The prioritization of vaccine disbursement worldwide to safeguard all nations and people groups, and to further enable face-to-face negotiations of all multilateral instruments and frameworks, as no country or group should be left behind.
The Paris Agreement of 2015 on Climate Change was a watershed moment for leadership commitment. In the same vein, Kunming Post-2020 GBF needs to follow suit for nature. The journey to Kunming is as important as the outcomes of Kunming. This will require full engagement of all of the Parties and Observers to reach a consensus on the Global Biodiversity Framework as that will be key to transparency and accountability across the board in delivering on the framework. It is vital to ensure that all 196 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity set a commensurate level of ambition for nature as supported by World Leaders.