By Devinder Kumar
What is in store for the natural world? Are governments implementing their commitments on preserving biodiversity? These and related issues are on the agenda of the UN biodiversity summit in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
It will not only review progress so far but is also expected to come up with decisions that will provide further momentum for implementation of the targets, according to conference sources.
Officially known as the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), deliberations at the Hyderabad gathering from October 8 to 19 will focus on the next steps in support of implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, agreed at COP 10 in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
The High Level Segment (HLS) of COP11 to CBD from October 16 to 19 will play a crucial role, providing an opportunity for Heads of State/ Delegations to facilitate in advancing the discussions and the adoption of a set of far-sighted decisions by COP that reflect the urgency of the issues facing the implementation of the Convention.
The Minister of the Environment of India, Jayanthi Natarajan, as the host of the meeting, has identified four key issues for discussion: implementation of the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity 2011-2020; biodiversity for Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction; Coastal and Marine Biodiversity; and implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing.
The Opening Plenary of the HLS is scheduled for October 16 and will be addressed among others by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Strategic Plan, a ten-year framework for action in support of implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, have been established as the overall framework for biodiversity work in the United Nations system. In line with their commitments in Nagoya, countries have been updating their national biodiversity strategies and action plans to achieve the Aichi Targets.
One of Aichi targets is to support restoration of up to 15% of degraded ecosystems. In the context of climate change and food security, the restoration target is of central importance to sustainable development, contributing to the well-being of people around the world.
The mobilization of resources for action on the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets will top the agenda, according to a press release. Drawing upon several reports and extensive preparatory consultations, including a recent high-level panel on financing convened by India and Britain, governments are expected to agree on targets for the mobilization of financial resources, as well as on the baseline and a framework for reporting.
The status of biodiversity in the world’s oceans will also be highlighted. A report on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) will be presented. The report, the product of two year’s work by scientific experts, provides a scientifically rigorous assessment of the status of biodiversity in these areas.
Discussions will also focus on various other threats to marine biodiversity, including ocean acidification, marine debris, coral bleaching and underwater noise, and will feed into the broader international work on oceans, including the recent Rio+20 outcome and the UN Oceans Compact.
The Oceans Compact was launched on August 12, 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Yeosu (Republic of Korea) International Conference to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It aims at strengthening UN system-wide coherence to deliver on its oceans-related mandates.
Governments will also hold discussions addressing the way forward in preparation for the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing, adopted in 2010. Six of the 50 ratifications required for the entry into force have been deposited with the United Nations to date, with more expected before the end of the year.
“Two years ago, in Nagoya, the world set the framework for action to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“Since then, we have seen significant progress around the world. This is encouraging, but we know that we need to do more in order to realize the ambitions of the Strategic Plan and to achieve the Aichi Targets. This will be challenging, as it involves short-term costs. However, the environmental social and economic benefits will be realized in the long term. Most of the time, this will simply mean spending existing resources in a different way.”
He added: “The awareness and understanding of the contribution of biodiversity in sustaining human wellbeing, and indeed in supporting production in our economies is a key to stop the loss of biodiversity. To address this, COP 11 will specifically strengthen its engagement with multiple stakeholders, including local governments, civil society and the private sector. We need biodiversity to be discussed not as a problem but as a solution to the challenges facing the world.”
A Summit of cities and local authorities – Cities for Life, will run in parallel on October 15 and 16. It will include new commitments by local governments to implementation of the Strategic Plan. A ground breaking report on Cities and Biodiversity will also be released.
Similarly, island states from around the world will also convene a summit to discuss new commitments in support of island biodiversity, and to celebrate “bright spots” – examples of conservation success from around the world.