Monday, 12 December – Highlights
Last night we were hosted dinner by the SPREP Director General, Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra. The dinner was crispy fried tofu and Asian fried aubergine with white sticky rice for me. Yes, it is a vegan option, which has been my preference for many years. On my way to the dinner at the Holiday Inn, I noticed light snow. It is my first white Christmas; the streets are lit with decorations and twinkling stars, and the sights and sounds are a dazzling treat around downtown. I woke up early as my body was still trying to settle the biological clock- it was 2 am here, but back home, it was early evening. Eventually, late-night musing about the election at home, the first-ever white Christmas for me, and how the new GBF is unfolding in Montreal, I fell off to sleep again. I woke up late to be back at the meeting venue for the morning briefs.
Several topics took center stage at today’s session of COP 15. Countries are seeing the urgency of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to be approved at COP15 or otherwise; this will be a huge missed opportunity. Biodiversity is the cornerstone of human well-being, the foundation of our food, water, medicine, and well-being. Without it, we won’t survive. While the threat of climate change is real, severe, and alarming, biodiversity gets little attention despite it being a single environmental threat; if occurred is entirely irreversible. Loss of species from the environment or extinction will mean we will never see them again on Earth. There is no adaptation to this problem.
There needed to be more progress made on Target 8. The target has several brackets around many of its texts. It deals with ‘…minimize the impact of climate change [and ocean acidification] on biodiversity and increase its resilience through mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction actions…’
Many countries favor retaining the reference to ocean acidification in the text, while some don’t. Some felt that ocean acidification is only one of the many effects of climate change, and the proposed texts need not be specified with examples. There was also significant disagreement on using the term ‘nature-based solutions.’ Kiribati from the Pacific took the floor to emphasize retaining reference to ocean acidification and nature-based solutions. A regional group took a strong position on this target, bargaining that any reference to climate change under this target must mention ‘common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR)- asking for the brackets to be lifted or removing the target entirely from the GBF. Some countries did not agree with the inclusion of ‘CBDR.’ This could be read as developed countries can continue to degrade the environment for its development as they have lesser responsibility – in essence, this will weaken the target itself.
Target 9 of the GBF is about ensuring that the management and use of wild species are sustainable, thereby providing social, economic, and environmental benefits for people. Some parties suggested that this target should focus on livelihoods and income.
I wrapped up my participation at target 13, which deals with Nagoya Protocol. Many parties wanted Nagoya Protocol deleted from “take effective legal, policy, administrative and capacity-building measures at all levels, as appropriate, in accordance with applicable international access and benefit-sharing instruments, that are consistent with and do not run counter to the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity [including and the Nagoya Protocol.” They felt that since they are not Parties to the Protocol, it should not be obligatory for them through the inclusion in the GBF. Others argued that the reference to Nagoya Protocol was regarding the benefit-sharing system not to run counterproductive to what is under the Protocol rather than adding any obligations to countries. A compromise arrived with addition and deletion as follows “objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity [including and the Nagoya Protocol], as applicable].”
The other issue under Target 13 was on the proposed texts around ‘To [ facilitate, ensure and substantial increase ].’ The Chair noted that there was a lot of support for “ensure” and not “facilitate” there is also an option for “facilitate and ensure”. Some wanted to keep the word ‘facilitate’ while others preferred to support either of the two or both. One of the countries stressed that benefit sharing flows from the private sector, so they can not increase substantial increases and therefore opted for the text ‘facilitate.’ Thus a proposal to reword it as ‘facilitate a considerable increase and ensure their fair and equitable sharing of benefits. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to proceed, and the Chair adjourned the meeting.
With that, I called it a day.