Between 21 and 26 June 2022, the United Nations (UN) Open Ended Working Group 4 (OEWG4) is meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the draft of a new framework for biodiversity under the the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). More than 1300 registered participants are participating both in person and online.
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific (FoE Asia Pacific) is also present and following the negotiations at this meeting with Friends of the Earth International’s (FoEI) small team of representatives.
FoEI is a part of the CBD Alliance (CBDA), an alliance of like-minded civil society organisations (CSOs) and movements following this UN space very closely, where the current discussion on the drafting of a new framework for biodiversity is ongoing. Known as the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), this new framework would supersede the Global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, set for the period 2010-2020.
The GBF currently contains four goals and 21 targets and is meant to address the biodiversity crisis and to realise the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity. The draft framework includes some targets which go the right direction such as “whole governance approach” where all government ministries must regulate their economic sectors which have an impact on biodiversity. However, clear and stringent regulations within the framework are lacking and we see a number of false solutions being put on the table including self-certification, offsetting, nature based solutions, and other neoliberal greenwashing proposals.
The current framework includes references to indigenous peoples, local communities, women, youth and civil society in the implementation processes. However, these may be under threat of being removed and put under the preambular language of the framework which may weaken the framework as a whole. Further, the framework also omits to take on a rights based approach and stops short of addressing some of the key elements on justice, equity and poverty reduction.
The decision for a new GBF was agreed to by parties* to the CBD Convention during the 14th Conference of Parties (COP) in Egypt, in November 2018. The president and host country of COP14 was Egypt. It was then handed over to China to host the 15th COP.
The discussions for the new framework began some time in 2019 with regional consultations. A zero draft was produced in Rome in 2020 and the first draft was released by the UN CBD Secretariat on 12 July 2021. The discussion on the first draft began online between August and September 2021. In March 2022, parties to the UN CBD came together and met face to face for the first time in Geneva after the lifting of the global lockdown to negotiate on the first draft. The negotiations ended in Geneva with large parts of the text for the GBF still requiring further discussion and to be negotiated by parties. Hence, why we have another OEWG meeting in Nairobi now.
COP15 originally to be held in Kunming, China in October 2020 was postponed as a result of the ongoing travel restrictions into China due to the pandemic. It was postponed three times to date and will now finally take place in Montreal, Canada between 5 and 15 December 2022.
The opening plenary in Nairobi, among others heard Inger Andersen, the UN Under-Secretary-General and executive director of UNEP, Francis Ogwal and Basil Van Havre, the co-chairs of the OEWG4, the president of COP15, several delegates from the regions of Asia Pacific, Carribean and Latin America, the European Union, Costa Rica, Colombia and Germany, all who while acknowledging the imminent threats to biodiversity degradation, stressed on the need to have, a robust, ambitious, slim and easy to understand text as the GBF.
CBD Alliance statement
At the end of the opening speeches in the morning of 21 June 2022, the floor was opened to statements from various parties and organisations. The CBD Alliance presented an opening statement that called for some of the following,
“Conservation must respect the rights of IPLCs, women, youth, and must be based on the governance and land rights of IPLCs and women.
The opposite happens today, for example, the Maasai people are being expelled from their territories for the sake of fortress conservation and related elite tourism interests.
We insist on the full integration of human rights considerations in all relevant targets and a self-standing target on gender.
We must address all direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss without delay. For example, industrial agriculture, including the use of pesticides, and industrialised livestock farming destroy ecosystems globally. By contrast, agroecological farming by IPLCs and smallholders feeds billions sustainably, while increasing agricultural biodiversity.”
What happens next
We do not know how much would be achieved at the end of six days because the current framework does not directly tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss. Further, the successful implementation of this framework would also depend on solid resources especially finance, provided to developing countries, without which, this framework would clearly fail. So far, all promises are hugely insufficient.
The civil society through the CBD Alliance has recently put together a document called Ingredients for a successful post 2020 GBF for this Nairobi meeting. We hope that parties negotiating the framework would pay close attention to this document is it highlights the main elements that should form part of the framework and what should not and the reasoning behind them.
The important question to consider now is whether we would rather have a bad deal where countries will need to settle for a compromise and sacrifice the planet for the benefit of a few or no deal at all. We look forward to the rich discussion in the coming days here in Nairobi and we urge all governments to come together and urgently address the biodiversity crisis in all sincerity and make no compromises that would further harm the little left for the future generation.
*Parties refer to countries who are signatories to the CBD