Tough Road Ahead of COP15 in Montreal For New Biodiversity Deal

people seated at a conference hall
EnviroNews Philippines
Nairobi, Kenya
Tough Road Ahead of COP15 in Montreal For New Biodiversity Deal

After a week of slow-paced negotiations in Nairobi to draft an ambitious global pact on biodiversity loss, governments from 196 nations have yet to nail down contentious issues to be adopted at UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada in December this year.

Discussions of nearly 1,000 negotiators from more than 100 countries through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process ended Sunday (June 26), made little progress on the targets and goals particularly on sustainable agriculture, forestry and aquaculture, access and benefit-sharing, targets on tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming, financial resources, rights and roles of indigenous peoples and digital sequence information on genetic resources that required considerable amount of further work.

Of the 23 targets on the table for discussion, only two had been agreed in Nairobi: access and benefit from urban spaces, and strengthening capacity building and development, including the access to and transfer of technology.

“We keep on improving on what we have achieved here. We are going back to the roadmap and delegates will take on the positive discussions here and meet before COP 15 in Montreal. Handing it over to the ministers are much more meaningful than now as their presence will give delegates a momentum to put progress,” said Francis Ogwal from Uganda, Co-Chair of the open-ended working group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The draft agreement on a biodiversity deal was supposed to achieve consensus on several targets and proposed diverse options for large parts of the framework, which was discussed in the last round of talks in Geneva in March. Discussions over the week includes four goals to achieve the shared vision by 2050, and 23 proposed targets.

Finance, a sticky issue

As the world tries to increase its ambition for safeguarding biodiversity, Ogwal said that US$700 billion is needed annually to finance conservation.

“There is an indication that there will be a number of financial commitments coming especially at COP15. There is a hope that biodiversity has a number of contributions coming in,” Ogwal said. “But the amount of damage is already enormous.”

“A lot of resources are needed if we are to try to recover and bring back biodiversity. The inaction now is much more costly in the future. We need to just come to terms and put money into biodiversity.”

Earlier this year, the Global Environment Facility invested more than US$5.3 billion to conserve biodiversity, which is critically important for the successful implementation of the new post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Further talks

The UN CBD bureau suggested intercessional talks days before COP15 in Montreal to reach a consensus on the new form of the biodiversity pact.

“Talks will continue after Nairobi. There will be continuous engagements to prepare the final text for adoption at COP 15. Efforts are considerable and have produced a text that, with additional work, will be the basis for reaching the 2050 vision of the Convention: a life in harmony with nature,” said Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity officials address a press conference
Press conference in Nairobi with Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, with Francis Ogwal from Uganda and Basile van Havre from Canada, Co-Chairs of the open-ended working group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework / Credit: Imelda Abano.

With the late night rhetoric and bureaucratic discussions particularly from rich developed nations, observers and civil society groups said the lack of progress this week would spell failure in Montreal.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, described the negotiations on a new ambitious biodiversity pact as “painstakingly slow in progress” dampened by some countries in some specific areas, adding complexity to the discussion.

“The lack of progress in Nairobi is highlighting a fact that there is a real chance that we will fail in Montreal COP15 to reach an ambitious agreement to curb the loss of nature. That is unacceptable but we will try to mobilize high-level attention into it,” Lambertini said.

“We want leaders to speak up to this issue so we will have a strong biodiversity agreement that is measurable and that will lead to more protection of nature.”

This story This story was produced as part of a reporting fellowship to the 2022 UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 4th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, led by Internews' Earth Journalism Network. It was originally published on 27 June 2022 by Philippine EnviroNews and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: Nearly 1,000 negotiators from more than 100 countries met in Nairobi from June 21-26 to broker a biodiversity pact / Credit: Imelda Abano.

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