"Reflections on COP15 Biodiversity Conference: An Observer's Perspective"
by Dr. Bikash Kali Das
As an observer at the COP15 Biodiversity conference, I had the opportunity to participate in and witness the discussions and negotiations that took place at both the Kunming, China and Montreal, Canada gatherings in 2021 and 2022 respectively. The conference, organized by the United Nations, brought together representatives from various countries, as well as experts and organizations, to address the pressing issues of biodiversity loss and the need for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
At the conference, I was struck by the sense of urgency and determination among the participants to take action to address the current biodiversity crisis. There were discussions on a wide range of topics, including the protection of threatened and endangered species, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the need for international cooperation to conserve biodiversity.
One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, a report that assesses the state of biodiversity and the effectiveness of the actions taken to conserve it. The report highlighted the ongoing decline of biodiversity and the urgent need for action. The conference also saw the adoption of several decisions and recommendations that aim to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.
I was also impressed by the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the conference. Their traditional knowledge and practices were recognized as essential for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their participation in decision-making was encouraged.
As an observer, I was able to gain a valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the conservation of biodiversity. It was clear that there is a great deal of work to be done, but the conference also highlighted the potential for effective international cooperation and the importance of local communities and traditional knowledge in addressing the biodiversity crisis.
Overall, my experience as an observer at the COP15 Biodiversity conference was an enlightening and enriching experience, and I believe the discussions and decisions made at the conference will have a positive impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
What is UN COP 15 biodiversity conference and its significance?
Biodiversity can be explored at three levels – Genetic diversity, Species diversity, and Ecosystem diversity. Together, these three stages contribute to the complexity of life on Earth. By using more resources, we run the risk of disrupting ecosystem equilibrium and losing our biodiversity. #SCP (sustainable consumption and production) encourages using fewer natural resources to produce more goods and services. It also aims to promote sustainable lifestyles, improve resource efficiency, and uncouple economic growth from environmental deterioration.The diversity of life on earth is referred to as biodiversity, including humans, animals, fungi, trees, and microorganisms. Biodiversity maintains all the elements of nature that are necessary for our survival, such as food, water, and shelter: each species and organism works in concert with others in ecosystems to preserve equilibrium and support life.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP15. COP 15 is the 15th Conference on World Biodiversity organised by the “Convention on Biological Diversity” (CBD), which is headed by the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP).
It will be conducted in 2 phases.
COP-15, UN Biodiversity Conference
“Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”
The COP 15 conference’s two-day High-Level Segment (12-13 October), opened with the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping on the Kunming Biodiversity Fund. The High-Level Segment of the meeting adopted the “Kunming Declaration”, with countries committing to negotiate an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework due to be agreed upon in 2022. There the participation of almost 2918 delegates in Kunming, and 2478 connected online, in part one of the UN Biodiversity Conference. The COP15 conference helped in setting the stage for the adoption of an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the resumption of the meeting in spring 2022. Important initiatives and commitments introduced during the meeting included the announcement by the Global Environment Facility, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme, that they will fast-track financial and technical support to developing country governments to prepare for the rapid implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The meeting saw China assuming the role of COP-15 Presidency, the adoption of an interim integrated budget for 2022 for the Convention, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing, and a progress report from the co-chairs of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Many non-State actors participated in the meeting, ensuring the good participation of a wide range of stakeholders.
The human species rely on nature in all of its variety for sustenance and survival. The main legal instrument to address threats to biodiversity is an international treaty known as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Its three main goals are the Conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biodiversity; and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. These are captured in the Nagoya and Cartagena Protocols and the Aichi Biodiversity targets formulated by the UN. Recently the Part I – UN Biodiversity conference was held in Kunming (COP 15) for the adoption of post global biodiversity framework at resumption in 2022. COP-15, part-I, addressed critical areas of work and demonstrated the capacity of countries to adjust to changes and advance on the path towards global sustainability.
SCP can make a significant difference in the fight against poverty and the shift to a low-carbon and environmentally friendly economy. Building cooperation amongst numerous distinct non-governmental groups and stakeholders across all nations is a crucial prerequisite. Urbanization that is planned can aid cities in making better and healthier living decisions. Additionally, it will assist individuals in making decisions about what they buy and how they live that will help preserve nature. The complex web of living things that nature has created is delicately balanced and adapted to live in the many climatic and geographic regions of our world.
“Kunming Declaration” was adopted by over 100 countries at the #cop15 high-level conference organised by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity held at Kunming, china on 13 Oct 2021. Signatories stated their intention to develop, adopt and implement an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework that puts biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. The goal is to fully realize the vision of “living in harmony with nature” by 2050.
30 by 30 target: 30% of the Earth’s land and oceans to have protected status by 2030.
The Kunming declaration also includes a fund that is being created by China to fund biodiversity protection actions in developing nations. President Xi Jinping pledged to pump USD 233 million into the new fund.
The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) is based in Montreal, Canada. Its main function is to assist governments in the implementation of the CBD and its programmes of work, to organize meetings, draft documents, and coordinate with other international organizations and collect and spread information. The Executive Secretary is the head of the Secretariat.
The CBD was ratified on May 22, 1992, and it became operative on December 29, 1993. The Convention, which aims to encourage the preservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its elements, and the just and equitable distribution of benefits resulting from the use of genetic resources, now has 193 parties. The Convention’s governing body is the COP.
CBD has two supplementary agreements, the Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
- The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the CBD and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
- The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is another supplementary agreement to the CBD. It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The Nagoya Protocol was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, and entered into force on 12 October 2014.
FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, BIODIVERSITY IS ESSENTIAL
Following the introduction of Agenda 2030, the CBD published a technical note that mapped and identified connections between the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This makes it easier to comprehend how biodiversity contributes to accomplishing the SDGs.
Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) – The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), a new strategy, is being created to direct activities until 2030. The final version of this framework, whose content is currently being considered and negotiated as part of the ongoing COP 15 negotiations, was originally announced in July 2021. A pledge to designate at least 30% of the world’s land and sea as protected areas is one of the ambitious objectives in the draught framework (known as the “30 by 30” initiative). The two main points of dispute between the Parties now centre on reducing agricultural pollution and sharing the advantages of digital sequencing information.
Marine and coastal biodiversity is a major priority of the CBD. In order to determine possibilities for changing the definition of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) and characterising new areas, a series of expert workshops have been held (2018–2022). These have concentrated on the North, North-West, and South-Eastern Atlantic Oceans, Baltic, Caspian, Black, and Southern and North-East Indian Oceans, Mediterranean, North and South Pacific, Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific, Wider Caribbean, and Western Mid-Atlantic Seas. The EBSA procedure, which is based on internationally recognised scientific standards, was followed during the workshop meetings. In order to facilitate the protection and sustainable use of marine biological diversity outside the purview of national jurisdiction, this aims to create an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) under UNCLOS (BBNJ). Area-based planning and decision-making is the main method.  It combines Blue Growth scenarios with EBSAs, Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), and High Seas (Marine Protected Areas). There is a connection to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive of the EU as well.
Biodiversity Day 2022 slogan: – “Building a shared future for all life”.
2010 was also the International Year of Biodiversity.
2011 to 2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.
COP 1 was held in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1994.
Abbreviations and links
- COP – Conference of the Parties
- CBD – Convention on Biological Diversity
- SCBD – Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
- IDB- International Day for Biological Diversity
- 22 MAY 2022: INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIBF)
- Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)
- Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI)
- National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP)
- CBD Handbook (the 3rd Edition)
- Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO)
- Kunming Declaration
- ADMISSION OF QUALIFIED BODIES
Signed, but not ratified
The aim of the Nature and Culture Summit is to generate new pathways for intercultural, intergenerational and international cooperation to integrate nature and culture in the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, towards the shared vision of living in harmony with nature.
At COP15, the global community will renew its commitment with the next phase of the Joint Programme of Work on the Links between Biological and Cultural Diversity. The Summit is an opportunity to engage in the new elements of the Joint Programme of Work, by providing insight on the role of biocultural diversity in conservation, sustainable use, traditional knowledge, indigenous languages, and others.
The most significant way everyone can make a difference is by altering the way we live. One strategy to safeguard species around the world is to eat a less intensively farmed diet, which includes consuming less meat and dairy. Intensive agriculture is one of the major causes of biodiversity loss internationally.
Growing plants that are beneficial to insects, mowing the lawn less regularly, and producing less garbage are further ways we can live more sustainably.
Additionally, there are more direct ways to contribute to making the globe a more biodiverse place, such as participating in community science initiatives or urging policymakers to take action.
India-China and the Nature
India and China must work together to stop the loss of biodiversity, slow climate change, and stop deforestation. The world’s two fastest-growing and most populous countries, China and India, “will play a substantial and leading role in setting the environmental consequences for our planet this century.” Environmental concerns are becoming more pressing as the economies of both nations see significant expansion. These places, notably the Himalayas, where these resources are derived, are experiencing this stress. Water supply may become a more difficult problem for the two nations to resolve and will require cautious cooperation. We must educate people about the advantages of cooperation. If these two nations don’t cooperate, more than just China and India will suffer. The effects on the environment will be felt on a global scale. Additionally, the two nations were expanding their ecological imprint throughout Asia. Large amounts of wood were also imported, which aided Asia’s loss of biodiversity and deforestation-related greenhouse gas emissions.Given the severity of the environmental problems, the two nations must collaborate significantly more closely. They should exchange information. Furthermore, tackling such issues would be more successful with coordinated action. Nations must safeguard species against increasing consumerism, dams, and industry since biodiversity has no tolerance for “national boundaries.” In addition to warning of the security and biodiversity threat posed by expanding consumption, dam construction, and industrial emissions, China and India might jointly decide the destiny of the planet’s ecology.
Future environmental, social, and economic outcomes will be greatly influenced by how China and India use natural resources both within and outside of their borders. These two nations import 9 million barrels of crude oil annually and 64% of the Roundwood pine produced in Asia, which exacerbates the issues of global warming and deforestation. The ecosystem is being harmed by numerous troops in the Himalayan border region. Because of the scarcity of resources in the mountain region, troops occasionally consume unusual vegetation. Other significant issues include rivers being constrained by hundreds of dams and melting glaciers that provide meltwater for half the world’s population.
We foresee an increase in the development of hydroelectric plants and the exploitation of other Himalayan resources in response to the rising energy demand in both countries, with grave implications for regional security. The synergistic effects of declining water resources, biodiversity loss, increased pollution, and climate change may have negative social and economic consequences, or, even worse, escalate conflicts within and between the two countries. China and India have not collaborated much or performed any cooperative research to lessen the effects of their rapid development, despite their increasing global significance.
Small signs of development have been observed in recent years, such as agreements to cooperatively monitor glaciers and investigate the interaction of the atmosphere and the ocean. The world’s two most populous nations must work more diligently together to combat biodiversity loss, climate change, and deforestation. They must also turn the disputed territory into transboundary protected areas, promote scientific cooperation, work with the UN to manage natural resources, and encourage regional forums like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to place a greater emphasis on the environment. Protection of wildlife between the two countries was unusual. China and India are currently the fourth- and fifth-largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, respectively. At least half of the world’s population relies on snowmelt from Himalayan glaciers as their main source of water throughout the summer. There is a lot that China and India can teach one another. India, for instance, has a greater energy efficiency than China. However, China has a lot to offer India in the areas of poverty alleviation, access to quality healthcare, and extensive conservation initiatives like the Grain-to-Green Program and the Natural Forest Conservation Program. These initiatives could help both nations reduce their contributions to global warming, environmental harm, and the loss of biodiversity. China primarily has experience with micro-hydropower projects, however both nations do as well. Local communities have a wealth of knowledge about biodiversity, hydrology, and climate change, particularly in the Himalayas. Sharing this information might help build the best strategies and technology. Both China and India must get through language and cultural obstacles. The promotion of Indian culture studies in China and Chinese culture studies in India is also essential. Cross-Cultural Study center’s can be helped by the UN and embassies to develop channels for cooperation. The Himalayas, UNESCO, and the U.N. Environment Programme are all potential catalysts for bringing the two nations closer and fostering such cooperation. International foundations and non-governmental organisations that are involved in environmental issues and the friendship between India and China could create transnational programmes. Organisations can play crucial roles in facilitating and supporting international discussions on climate change and other environmental issues that cut across political boundaries.