The strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020 adopted in Nagoya, Japan during COP 10 in 2010 is expected to expire as the decade is already over. This necessitated the recent COP 14 meeting in Egypt to debate on coming up with a design process towards the adoption of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework. In its first meeting, the open ended working group tasked with the responsibility of coming up with an impeccable global biodiversity framework in this era of unprecedented environmental crises and countless biodiversity loss and extinction, had a real daunting task.
Over 500 Delegates from parties, non-parties, observers, NGOs, IGOs, UN Organizations, Academic organizations, Business and private sector, youth and indigenous peoples and local communities convened on 27th August 2019 at the UN complex in Nairobi to embark on negotiations that would lay the foundation for the road map to adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework. The meeting was an opportunity for the international community to evaluate successes that have been achieved under the convention for biological diversity 26 years since it entered to force as well as to learn from its impediments. Since its inception in December 1993 the convention has a membership of 196 parties which are actively advancing its objectives; promoting conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
A couple of protocols have been adopted as a result of this convention which emphasize and reinforce its work. These include;
- Catargena protocol on biosafety which addresses the safer transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health.
- The Nagoya protocol on access and benefit sharing which advances the convention’s third objective by providing a legally binding framework and thus legal certainty, to users and to providers of genetic resources.
At around 10am the co-chairs, Francis Ogwal and Basile Van Havre opened the meeting, inviting the delegates for the daunting task ahead of the open-ended-working group. Hamdallah Zidane, Ministry of the Environment, Egypt, speaking on behalf of the president of the COP 14 reminded delegates that through cooperation and teamwork the working group would rise against the challenge it is faced with. The CBD executive secretary, Cristiana Pasca Palmer addressing the plenary, quoted Nelson Mandela, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation. Let your greatness blossom”. She insisted that the working group had embarked on a discussion that will make an indelible impact for the future of the planet. The UN Environment executive director on closing the session of keynote addresses said that getting the global biodiversity framework right means getting all environmental issues right. The floor was then opened for wide ranging discussions encompassing the agenda items provided by the co-chairs.
CYNESA being represented by its Executive director, Allen Ottaro and two core team members, Alphonce Muia and Mercy Munene, took a strategic position in this meeting rightly fitting in both the NGO and Youths caucus. The CYNESA delegation formed part of the civil society network for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD Alliance) and actively participated in the morning coordination meeting before the plenary’s formal convention. Through the CBD alliance, the CYNESA delegation was appointed to be among the media team which was tasked with a responsibility of ensuring that insights from the OEWG are made available in the local media platforms. CYNESA delegates under the auspices of CBD Alliance also formed part of the organizers and participants of an action session made to send message to the parties that the effects of biodiversity loss and extinction have been exacerbated by the greed and overexploitation by the corporate class.
Through CBD Alliance the civil society organizations’ voice on supporting the implementation of the CBD by raising awareness, promoting sustainable practices and carrying out conservation measures on various levels was amplified. CYNESA participated in a couple of side events that were held at the sidelines of the conference;
- A decade on ecosystem restoration where the facilitators from UN Environment highlighted the roles that everyone needs to play in ecosystem restoration. A startling concern was raised on how failure to conserve have pushed us to a point where we only have to restore.
- Reporting on UN SDGs; The need for linking SDGs to the CBD was emphasized where at global, national and local levels, statistics on levels of conservation should be periodically provided. On the convention for the illegal trade on Endangered species (CITES), the facilitators pointed out that the revised vision of then convention is to ensure that by 2030 all international trade on wild flora and fauna is illegal and sustainable.
A couple of social events also made this conference unique and with more networking opportunities essential for the promotion of the 17th SDG.In the evening of the first day of the meeting Environment hosted a sumptuous party for all the delegates and on 29th of August after the formal sessions, the members of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network(GYBN) shared a dinner with CYNESA and exchanged more insights on the future of the Youth’s involvement in the conservation realm.
Being the first meeting of the working group, a clear roadmap to save the plummeting planet was visible. The skeptical part remained on whether the ambitions and transformative framework on biodiversity will be implemented. Many delegates felt that the week was a reminiscent of the lessons learnt from the past decade of the Aichi targets, to reaffirm the reason why a strive for a global biodiversity framework was on. The roadmap to COP 15 in 2020 at China where the post 2020 global biodiversity framework is expected to be adopted, is long and arduous and time is limited therefore the participants must work hard to ensure appropriate benchmarks and balanced approach to thematic consultations will be adopted along the process with youths having a central role to play in ensuring that their future and for the generations to come is in harmony with nature.
On Friday 30th afternoon, the CBD executive secretary thanked the participants reminding them that the first meeting served as a” first step of a thousand miles” as the negotiations were already clearly responding to calls for action on biodiversity issues.
With optimistic expectations on the second and third meetings to be convened in Kunming, China and Cali, Colombia respectively.
The co-chairs gaveled the meeting to a close towards 8pm.
Alphonce Munyao Muia,