THE Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services was established in 2012 to perform regular and timely assessment of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and its contribution to people, as well as actions to protect and sustainably use vital natural assets. To date, eight IPBES assessments have been completed.
Equilibrium in nature, essential for human life, is being altered by multiple human drivers. The rapid decline includes significant changes in 75 per cent of land surface, 66pc on oceans and loss of over 85pc of wetlands. Around a million species are facing the threat of extinction. Urgent action is required to reduce the intensity of the drivers of biodiversity loss.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Rio sister convention to the UNFCCC, is due to conclude negotiations on a new global framework for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in December after delays. Originally planned for Kunming, China, in 2020, COP15 was postponed due to Covid-19 and split into a two-part event. The first was held in Kunming in 2021 and produced the Kunming Declaration; it was where China also launched the Kunming Biodiversity Fund. The second, scheduled to be held in Montreal (Dec 17-19) will finalise the post-2020 global biodiversity framework for 2022-2030.
This once-in-a-decade opportunity to land an ambitious global deal for nature will need high-level political attention and powerful voices from civil society, media and businesses to amplify the need for a shared call for ambition to ensure COP15’s success. As hosts, China and Canada will play a crucial role by investing diplomatically ahead of the event for a successful outcome.
Over half the global GDP is at risk due to nature loss.
The CBD COP15 provides an opportunity for delivering on a global deal for nature similar in significance to the Paris Climate agreement. At stake is the future of human life and the ecological assets that support life. An estimated 23pc of global emissions come from agriculture, forestry and land use. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that boosting the area of the world’s forest, woodlands, and woody savannahs could store one quarter of the carbon necessary for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Biodiversity conservation has not received the same attention as global warming although it plays a huge role in food security. More than half the world’s GDP ($44 trillion) is at immediate risk due to nature loss. Globally, food production uses about 40pc of available land and 70pc of freshwater withdrawals, with agriculture responsible for 75pc of all deforestation. A recent study by a consortium of scientists concludes that conserving strategically located 30pc of the world’s land would safeguard more than 62pc of the world’s vulnerable carbon and 68pc of all freshwater, while ensuring that over 70pc of all terrestrial vertebrate and plant species are not threatened with extinction.
The impact of biodiversity loss on Pakistan will be no less than vulnerability associated with climate change. Both are inherently interconnected. As a signatory to the CBD, Pakistan should try to ensure that financial and implementation mechanisms are agreed upon to avoid the risks of targets being set and not met. Resource mobilisation will be a critical issue at the negotiations and significant investments will be needed to develop trust between developed and developing nations. Lack of consensus will hinder progress across the whole framework. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan must be fully integrated with climate planning processes such as the Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plan. Countries and IFIs must demonstrate how they will close the global biodiversity financial gap through public and private finance and domestic policy reforms.
Wrapped in issues of sovereignty and finance, the digital sequencing of information (that refers to data derived from genetic resources) for access and benefit sharing will be a key political sticking point that will require a compromise resolution so as not to impede progress across the rest of the framework.
The signal that there might be no leader-level event ahead or at COP15 and the leadership deficit from China can significantly dilute the outcome. It is very important that leading voices in the negotiations are heard and ministerial ambition is translated into a negotiating mandate.
COP15 needs to be seen as a globally important moment to tackle the loss of biodiversity with visible public and political pressure and space for leader-level attendance. COP27 can be used as a springboard to increase the visibility of COP15 and send a strong message that without action to protect and restore nature, the world will be incapacitated to meet its commitment to the Paris Agreement and keep 1.5 alive.
The writer is chief executive of the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2022
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