THE CONTEXT: The 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) on December 19, 2022. The framework has 23 targets that the world needs to achieve by 2030. The following article intends to analyse the efficacy and significance of the Kunming-Montreal GBF from UPSC perspective.
THE KUNMING-MONTREAL GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FRAMEWORK (GBF): KEY HIGHLIGHTS
- The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is a global agreement between countries to protect biodiversity and ensure its sustainable use. The GBF is currently under negotiation, with the aim of finalizing the agreement at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, China, in 2022.
- The GBF builds on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which was adopted by the CBD in 2010, and aims to set out a new, ambitious framework for biodiversity protection and restoration beyond 2020. The GBF is expected to be structured around a set of targets and indicators, which will help to track progress and hold countries accountable for their commitments.
- The GBF is viewed as a critical tool for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 14 (Life Below Water) and Goal 15 (Life on Land). The agreement is also seen as essential for ensuring the long-term viability of ecosystems and the many services they provide to human societies, such as food, water, and clean air.
- The framework has 23 targets that the world needs to achieve by 2030. The targets are ambitious, considering that biodiversity is in a poor state.
- In 2020, the world failed to meet the last set of targets, the Aichi Targets. Countries would need to ensure success this time around.
- Delegates were able to build consensus around the deal’s most ambitious target of protecting 30% of the world’s land and seas by the decade’s end, a goal known as 30-by-30.
- The deal also directs countries to allocate $200 billion per year for biodiversity initiatives from both the public and private sectors.
- The Global Environment Facility has been requested to establish a Special Trust Fund to support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework (“GBF Fund”).
KEY TARGETS OF GBF
- 30×30 Deal: Restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally (on land and sea) by 2030. Conserve and manage 30% areas (terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030.
- Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown).
- Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030.
- Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030.
- Reduce pollution risks and negative impacts of pollution from all sources by 2030 to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions.
- Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste.
- Sustainably manage areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry and substantially increase agroecology and other biodiversity-friendly practices.
- Tackle climate change through nature-based solutions.
- Reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030.
- Secure the safe, legal and sustainable use and trade of wild species by 2030.
MAJOR OUTCOMES OF COP 15
The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), which was held in Kunming, China, in October 2021, was a major milestone in global efforts to protect biodiversity. In addition to finalizing the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), COP15 produced several other major outcomes, including:
- The Kunming Declaration: This is a political statement that reaffirms the commitment of governments to protect biodiversity and implement the GBF. The declaration recognizes the urgent need to take action to address the drivers of biodiversity loss, such as habitat destruction, overexploitation, climate change, and pollution.
- A post-2020 global biodiversity strategy: This strategy sets out a framework for achieving the objectives of the GBF and provides guidance for national and regional implementation. The strategy includes a set of 21 targets, known as the “Kunming Targets,” which aim to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources by 2030.
- A new funding mechanism: The COP15 established a new financial mechanism to support the implementation of the GBF and the post-2020 global biodiversity strategy. The mechanism will be funded through a combination of public and private sources, including contributions from governments, international organizations, and the private sector.
- The establishment of a High-Level Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: The panel will provide scientific guidance and advice to governments and stakeholders on how to achieve the objectives of the GBF and the post-2020 global biodiversity strategy.
- The recognition of the critical role of indigenous peoples and local communities in biodiversity conservation: The COP15 recognized the importance of traditional knowledge and practices in protecting biodiversity and the need to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in decision-making processes related to biodiversity.
ANALYSING COP 15
The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) was a critical conference for global efforts to protect biodiversity. However, the conference also faced several issues and challenges that need to be addressed in order to effectively protect biodiversity. Some of these issues include:
- Ambition gap: Some stakeholders and experts argue that the commitments and targets outlined in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and the post-2020 global biodiversity strategy are not ambitious enough to effectively address the drivers of biodiversity loss. There are concerns that the targets may not be sufficient to halt or reverse the decline of biodiversity and that more ambitious goals are needed. In 2020, the world had failed to meet the last set of targets, the Aichi Targets. Countries would need to ensure success this time round.
- Implementation and funding gap: There is a concern that the implementation of the GBF and the post-2020 global biodiversity strategy will require significant financial resources and technical support, particularly in developing countries. Some stakeholders have called for more ambitious funding commitments and a better mechanism to ensure that the funding reaches the countries and communities that need it the most.
- Governance and accountability gap: The effectiveness of the GBF and the post-2020 global biodiversity strategy will depend on the governance and accountability mechanisms put in place to ensure their implementation. There is a concern that the governance and accountability mechanisms currently proposed may not be sufficient to ensure that countries and stakeholders meet their commitments. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adoption of the new targets is already delayed by two years leaving lesser time for the countries to achieve the targets.
- Inequity and social justice: Some stakeholders have expressed concerns that the GBF and the post-2020 global biodiversity strategy may not sufficiently address the social and environmental justice issues surrounding biodiversity conservation. They argue that the interests of local and indigenous communities need to be better integrated into the conservation efforts and that the conservation measures should not exacerbate social inequalities.
- Lack of political will: Finally, there is a concern that some governments may lack the political will to implement the commitments made at the COP15 and to take the necessary actions to protect biodiversity. This is particularly a concern in the face of other pressing issues such as climate change, economic development, and social issues that may take priority over biodiversity conservation.
INDIA’S VOCAL PRESENCE AT THE COP 15
India was one of the key participants in the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) held in Kunming, China. India presented its demands and expectations at the conference, which included the following:
- Adequate funding for biodiversity conservation: India highlighted the need for increased financial support for developing countries to effectively address the challenges of biodiversity conservation. It called for a significant increase in funding from developed countries to support developing countries’ efforts to conserve biodiversity.
- Capacity building and technology transfer: India stressed the importance of capacity building and technology transfer to enhance the ability of developing countries to implement biodiversity conservation measures effectively. It called for the establishment of a mechanism to facilitate technology transfer and capacity building for developing countries.
- Traditional knowledge and practices: India emphasized the critical role of traditional knowledge and practices in biodiversity conservation and called for the recognition and protection of the rights of local and indigenous communities in this regard.
- Access and benefit-sharing: India highlighted the importance of ensuring equitable access and benefit-sharing arrangements for the use of genetic resources, particularly for developing countries that are rich in biodiversity.
- Synergy with other international agreements: India stressed the importance of ensuring synergy between the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Overall, India’s demands and expectations at the COP15 reflect its commitment to conserving biodiversity and ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources. India’s approach to biodiversity conservation emphasizes the importance of traditional knowledge, capacity building, and equitable access and benefit-sharing arrangements. It also emphasizes the need for international cooperation and support to effectively address the challenges of biodiversity conservation, particularly for developing countries.
WHY SHOULD WE PRESERVE BIODIVERSITY?
Biodiversity, or the variety of life on Earth, provides a range of benefits that are essential for the functioning of ecosystems and for human well-being. Some of the key benefits of biodiversity are:
- Ecosystem services: Biodiversity provides a range of ecosystem services, such as pollination, nutrient cycling, soil formation, and climate regulation. These services are essential for the functioning of ecosystems and for human well-being, as they support food production, water purification, and climate stability, among other things.
- Genetic resources: Biodiversity provides genetic resources that are used in a range of industries, such as agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology. These genetic resources are used to develop new crops, medicines, and other products, and have significant economic value.
- Cultural and recreational value: Biodiversity has cultural and recreational value, providing opportunities for spiritual, aesthetic, and recreational experiences. Biodiversity is also central to many cultural traditions and practices, such as indigenous knowledge and practices related to the use of plants and animals.
- Economic value: Biodiversity has significant economic value, providing employment opportunities and supporting industries such as tourism, fisheries, and forestry. Biodiversity also provides valuable ecosystem services that are essential for economic activities, such as crop production, water supply, and climate regulation.
- Resilience and adaptability: Biodiversity provides resilience and adaptability to ecosystems, making them more resilient to environmental changes, such as climate change and natural disasters. Biodiversity also provides resilience and adaptability to human societies, enabling them to cope with environmental changes and to maintain their livelihoods.
Overall, biodiversity provides a range of benefits that are essential for the functioning of ecosystems and for human well-being. These benefits highlight the importance of conserving biodiversity and using it sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations.
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DECLINING BIODIVERSITY
There are a multitude of factors that can contribute to the decline in biodiversity. Some of the most significant factors include:
- Habitat destruction: As human populations grow and expand into natural areas, they destroy or modify habitats through activities such as deforestation, urbanization, and agriculture. This can directly reduce biodiversity by destroying or fragmenting habitats, as well as indirectly affecting biodiversity by altering the availability of resources and disrupting ecological processes.
- Climate change: Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and other effects of climate change can directly affect the distribution and survival of species, as well as alter the timing of key life cycle events such as breeding and migration.
- Over-exploitation: Overfishing, hunting, and harvesting of wild species for commercial or subsistence purposes can lead to population declines and even extinction.
- Pollution: Chemicals, plastics, and other pollutants can negatively impact biodiversity by contaminating habitats, poisoning organisms, and altering ecosystems.
- Invasive species: Non-native species introduced to a new habitat can outcompete native species, alter ecological processes, and disrupt entire ecosystems.
- Disease: Outbreaks of disease can have devastating impacts on populations of species, particularly in cases where the disease is introduced to a population with no natural immunity.
- Human population growth: As human populations grow, the demand for resources such as food, water, and land increases, leading to further habitat destruction and other impacts on biodiversity.
- Fragmentation of habitats: Habitat fragmentation is the process by which large, continuous habitats are broken up into smaller, isolated patches. This can have significant impacts on biodiversity by reducing the amount of available habitat and increasing the likelihood of species extinction.
These factors can interact in complex ways, making it difficult to predict or address the impacts of biodiversity loss. However, efforts to address these factors can include conservation measures such as habitat protection, restoration, and management, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, regulating the trade of wildlife, and controlling the spread of invasive species.
COP 15: THE WAY AHEAD
The following are some key steps that can be taken to move forward after the COP 15 conference:
- Implementation of the GBF: The GBF provides a framework for action to address the current biodiversity crisis. It is essential to ensure its effective implementation at the national and international levels. This will require strong political will, adequate resources, and effective governance mechanisms.
- Strengthening of national biodiversity strategies and action plans: Countries need to strengthen their national biodiversity strategies and action plans to align with the objectives of the GBF. This will require effective engagement of all stakeholders, including indigenous and local communities, civil society, and the private sector.
- Integration of biodiversity conservation into development planning: Biodiversity conservation needs to be integrated into development planning to ensure that economic growth is sustainable and does not come at the expense of biodiversity. This will require a shift towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns, as well as the use of innovative technologies and practices.
- Increased financial support: Adequate financial support is critical for the effective implementation of the GBF. Developed countries need to fulfill their commitments to provide financial resources to support developing countries in their efforts to conserve biodiversity.
- Public awareness and education: Public awareness and education are essential for promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Education and awareness-raising campaigns should target all sections of society, including youth, women, and indigenous and local communities.
- Monitoring, reporting, and evaluation: It is important to establish monitoring, reporting, and evaluation mechanisms to track progress in the implementation of the GBF and to identify areas where additional action is needed.
THE CONCLUSION: The adoption of the GBF at the COP 15 conference provides a comprehensive plan of action to address the current biodiversity crisis. The effective implementation of the GBF requires strong political will, adequate resources, effective governance mechanisms, and the active participation of all stakeholders. Overall, the outcomes of COP15 represent a significant step forward in global efforts to protect biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. However, the success of these outcomes will depend on the willingness of governments and stakeholders to implement the commitments made at the conference and take concrete actions to address the drivers of biodiversity loss.
- “The targets decided under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), are ambitious, considering that biodiversity is in a poor state.” Examine Critically.
- “By the next CBD COP in 2024, governments have a lot of homework to turn these agreed goals into actions at home.” In the light of the statement, discuss the importance of having a strong political will and effective governance mechanisms for achieving targets under the COP 15.