The issue of global biodiversity loss is so intense in the present era that it cannot be ignored as according to the reports of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), due to human actions an average of around 25 percent of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species have already faced extinction, many within decades will face the same unless actions are taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.
Consequently, without such actions, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.(1)
The drastic loss of global biodiversity which is very much apparent from the reports, concerns regarding the protection of biodiversity have brought the world community to take initiatives for dealing with such issues when the issue of Climate Change is a risk multiplier component for causing biodiversity loss as the future impacts of climate change are projected to become more pronounced in the next decades, with variable relative effects depending on scenario and geographic region.(2)
Among the issues related to global biodiversity loss, it is of great importance to protecting the marine areas as the marine areas cover the 71% of the earth’s surface and consequentially, a large number of biodiversity lies within the maritime zones. Marine and terrestrial biodiversity in sub-polar and Polar Regions is projected to decline mostly because of warming, sea ice retreat and enhanced ocean acidification. (3)
According to the Special Report prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2050 if it continues to increase at the current rate (4) and meanwhile, the triggering activities within the maritime zones are also increasing day by day in the forms of shipping, fishing, and mining, conducting scientific research, exploitation and exploration of marine resources, tourism and so on. Thus, to adopt proper policies and setting goals for the conservation of marine biodiversity has no alternative.(5)
Convention on Biological Diversity: Aichi Targets for Marine Biodiversity
Among the various international regimes to prevent biodiversity loss, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been the significant one. Parties under the CBD meet at regular interval which is known as Conference of the Parties (COP), and the 10th COP took place in the Aichi district of Nagoya, Japan. During the meeting, out of the realization that effective policies and goals shall be set out to prevent biodiversity loss, the COP gave birth to a short-term plan for Biodiversity. The short-term plan is officially known as “Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020” (COP 10 Decision X/2) which is a ten-year framework for action to be taken by all countries to protect biodiversity and the plan provides a set of 20 ambitious yet achievable targets, collectively known as the Aichi Targets.(6)
Aichi targets include 20 targets divided into 5 sections from A to E, some specific to the oceans such as by 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits (Target 6), by 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning (Target 10), by 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes (Target 11), and by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained (Target 12).(7)
In addition, the COP 10 identified marine areas which meet Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) criteria and continue to facilitate regional workshops for the identification of EBSAs, for future listing, according to the EBSA criteria, based on a previous COP decision establishing a process and criteria in the identification of EBSAs. In the negotiations to develop an international legal instrument for marine biodiversity, the management of areas such as the EBSAs outside the competence and jurisdiction of any state is currently discussed at the UN.(8)
Prior to the COP 15 and when the deadline to meet the Aichi targets is so close, stakeholders across the world are working and trying to develop the components for the post-2020 framework under the CBD and related global biodiversity targets with more chances of success in achieving the goals. Among the concerns related to the protection of biodiversity, the protection of marine biodiversity led the initiative to protect 10% of marine areas which reportedly has been achieved so far compared to other targets. However, still due to foreseeable and prospective occurrences and climate change stronger initiatives are required to be taken.
Evaluation and Progress of Aichi Targets with regards to Marine Biodiversity:
In the year of 2016, five of the World’s largest NGOs namely Birdlife International, Conservation International, The RSPB, The Nature Conservancy and WWF came together to produce an assessment report to highlight national and regional progress of Aichi targets till that date. According to the report though there is evidence of positive progress on a number of the targets, the overall picture is poor, with inadequate progress to date in most countries, and weak levels of future ambition.(9) According to the Report only 5 % of countries appeared to be on track to meet their global targets. (10) While approximately three quarters of the signatories are progressing, none are moving fast enough to meet their 2020 deadline and 20% of nations have made no progress or are moving away even more.(11)
Furthermore, quite similarly, the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the National Geographic Society issued the 2018 ‘Protected Planet Report,’ which finds that the world is on track to meet conservation targets and report reviews progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.(12) The Protected Planet Report states that 7% of coastal and marine areas and 15% of terrestrial areas are now designated as protected areas. These figures represent an increase of 3.2% of marine areas and 0.2% of terrestrial areas since the last Protected Planet Report was published in 2016.
In June 2017, the Executive Secretary of the CBD claimed at the United Nations Ocean Conference that, based on reports from member countries, 5.7% of the ocean was already protected, and that we are on track to exceed the 10% target by 2020.(13) Similarly, the WCMC and IUCN claim that 6.97% of the ocean was covered by protected areas in 2017.(14) According to experts the problem is that the numbers announced by the CBD and WCMC/IUCN lump together three distinct stages in the process of creating a protected area: (1) announcement of an intent or commitment to create an MPA; (2) legal designation of an MPA; and (3) actual implementation of an MPA as according to them only the last stage should count as ‘protection’ because until something changes on or in the water, the habitats and species therein are not really protected. (15)
Post-2020 Framework: Implications and Challenges
Since the formulation of the “Post-2020 Framework”, various parties have put forward suggestions for the preparation of a new framework. The United Kingdom, the International Congress and Conference Association (ICCA), and the BirdLife International recommended the release of relevant procedures and measures for the development of the “Post-2020 Framework” and a timetable including the participation of all parties. Mexico believes that an expert meeting should be organized, and Madagascar recommends that it be organized before the conference. The consultation between countries and stakeholders, the World Health Organization recommended that a cross-sectoral liaison group meeting be held, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recommended the establishment of a technical expert group as soon as possible.(16)
According to BirdLife International, for targets focused on actions, a revised target for protected and conserved areas (building on Aichi Target 11) including a focus on documenting, retaining and restoring the biodiversity value of all Key Biodiversity Areas and other sites of global and national significance for biodiversity such as EBSAs, through protected areas and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs).(17)
The WWF has suggested while formulating post-2020 global biodiversity framework, by 2030, it should be ensured that at least 30% of the earth is covered by effectively managed protected areas and OECMs of high biodiversity value, encompassing individually a representative range of the earth’s ecosystems, including coastal and marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, with sufficient connectivity and management to ensure the maintenance of their high biodiversity value.(18)
According to IUCN, A site-based measures target could focus on the conservation of specific sites such as key biodiversity areas through protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (19) and Target 10 does not directly address climate change, thus, A target could address climate change as a major driver of biodiversity loss focusing on the role biodiversity can play as a nature-based solution to climate change mitigation and adaptation. (20)
Additionally, Parties such as Colombia and Togo emphasized that the new framework should be continuous with the original framework. The EU, Germany, India and other parties believed that the overall goals of the framework should be clear, concise in design and focused, and based on the “Vision 2050” and the latest scientific research results. At the same time, the EU believes that the new framework needs to consider the “bottom-up” system design and include quantifiable indicators. (21) Many Parties and international organizations have suggested that more stakeholders should be supported to participate in the development of the “Post-2020 Framework”.(22) In addition, most Parties believe that scenarios and models of climate change should be used for reference, and quantifiable and measurable goals should be proposed.(23)
The African States uphold the importance of the Convention in terms of standards and technologies for the protection of marine biological diversity, while emphasizing the construction of marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction within the framework of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the United Nations General Assembly. Due to capacity constraints, and EBSAs in relevant sea areas have been included in the global EBSSA list, the African Group supports the Secretariat to carry out further work to sort and classify information on the types and impacts of human activities in EBSAs. (24)
During the 23rd Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 23) and 11th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8J 11) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, for Asia-Pacific, emphasized the importance of benefit-sharing from the utilization of genetic resources, and stressed the need to scale up action on pollution and marine debris, further underscoring the need for capacity building, technology transfer, and resource mobilization to implement the post-2020 framework.(25)
Elizabeth Mrema, Director of the United Nations Environment Law Department, stated during the COP-13 that it is not enough merely to declare protection for land and marine areas adding that adoption of better regulation and compliance to ensure the proper management of these protected areas.(26)
A new article in the journal called Aquatic Conservation, “‘Dangerous Targets’ revisited: Old dangers in new contexts plague marine protected areas”,(27) suggests percentage-based goals can give the illusion of progress, and that actual outcomes for conservation and planning do not always measure up. Nevertheless, most conservationists, scientists and the UK government argue that the new deal ought to be larger, putting 30% of high seas at unregulated exploitative limits.
The controversial nature of percentage-based targets has not stopped some from reaching for even higher goals than 30%. At the World Conservation Congress, calls for 50% MPA coverage came from several high-profile speakers, including oceanographer Sylvia Earle and biologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson published a book this year titled Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, in which he argues that to stave off a mass extinction of species, half of the planet’s land and water should be dedicated to nature. The call for 50% MPA coverage has even been echoed by the executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias.(28)
Therefore, COP 15 which is to be taken place in Kunming, China in October 2020, is an opportunity to set out post-2020 goals, targets and time-table to achieve such goals and targets in relation to marine biodiversity within the proper framework considering the suggestions and recommendations from the stakeholders and state parties.
*About the author: Sabrina Hasan, is a PhD Program Student under the South China Sea Institute of Xiamen University; She has received LLM in Maritime Law from BSMR Maritime University, Bangladesh; MSS specialized with Victimology and Restorative Justice and PGDIR from University of Dhaka; LLB from the University of London, UK. Currently, she is engaged as Editorial Team Member, South Asian Journal of Law and Policy; Contributing Writer, Our Time. Formerly, she had served Greenovation Hub, China as Project Consultant and Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs as Research Assistant (Law).
- Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the work of its seventh session, Paris, 29 April–4 May 2019, Addendum, Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES/7/10/Add.1, [Retrieved from https://ipbes.net/system/tdf/ipbes_7_10_add.1_en_1.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=35329]
- Union of Concerned Scientists, Reports &Multimedia/Explainer, The Planet’s Temperature is Raising, Nov 16, 2017, [Retrieved from https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/planets-temperature-rising]
- IPCC, Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5◦ C, Summary for Policy Makers, 2019 [retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/05/SR15_SPM_version_report_LR.pdf]
- Supra N 1
- Convention on Biological Diversity, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, https://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/
- Convention on Biological Diversity, Progress Reports towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Dec 2016
- Convention on Biological Diversity, Progress Report Towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, National Commitments Fall Short of Action needed to Safeguard Nature, 2016, https://thought-leadership-production.s3.amazonaws.com/2016/12/07/15/33/12/1119cbd0-b781-4c44-b2b6-cc686af6e8f1/CBD-Aichi-Targets-Progress-Dec2016.pdf
- Catherine B. Wahlen, IISD, SDG Knowledge Hub, ‘Protected Planet Report’ Finds World on Track to Meet Aichi target, 27 Nov, 2018, [Retrieved from https://sdg.iisd.org/news/protected-planet-report-finds-world-on-track-to-meet-aichi-target-11/]
- BirdLife International, Initial views on the scope and content of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, 15 Dec 2018, [retrieved fromhttps://www.cbd.int/doc/strategic-plan/Post2020/postsbi/birdlife4.pdf]
- WWF Switzerland, Submission to the post-2020 framework, CBD, 14 Dec 2018, https://www.cbd.int/doc/strategic-plan/Post2020/postsbi/wwfswitzerland.pdf
- IUCN PROPOSALS FOR TARGETS IN THE POST-2020 GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FRAMEWORK (BASED ON ANNEX TO CBD/SBSTTA/23/2/ADD.4) [retrieved from https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/iucn_proposed_targets_based_on_sbstta23-2-add.4_121119.pdf]
- N 17
- D. Marino,A. Marucci,M. Palmieri,P. Gaglioppa. Monitoring the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) framework using evaluation of effectiveness methods. The Italian case[J]. Ecological Indicators,2015,55.
- 23rd meeting of the subsidiary body on scientific, technical, and technological advice (SBSTTA 23) and 11th meeting of the ad hoc open-ended working group on article 8(j) and related provisions (wg8j 11) of the convention on biological diversity (CBD), 20-22 and 25-29 November 2019 | Montreal, Canada, [Retrieved from http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/sbstta23-wg8j11/]
- Report Of The Conference Of The Parties To The Convention On Biological Diversity on Its Thirteenth Meeting, CBD/Cop/13/25, https://www.cbd.int/doc/c/c533/6dcd/0b0221d38ffc4fc8e992587b/cop-13-25-en.pdf
- MPA News Staff, IUCN Members Approve 30% by 2030 Goal for MPAs Most Ambitious Target So Far for MPA Coverage, MPA News, Oct 27, 2016 [Retrieved from https://mpanews.openchannels.org/news/mpa-news/iucn-members-approve-30-2030-goal-mpas-%E2%80%94-most-ambitious-target-so-far-mpa-coverage]