Reducing biodiversity decline

Lori Frater | 9 years ago

In 2010, at the tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10), government leaders agreed to a set of targets, known as the Aichi targets, to be met by 2020.

The CBD was adopted on 22 May 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 193 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

The Aichi targets set 20 goals, which cover everything from avoiding extinctions of threatened species, to reducing subsidies that are harmful to the environment, to protecting 17% of the Earth’s land and 10% of its seas by 2020.

Nearly half way towards that deadline, a new report launched at the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (CBD COP 12), held in October 2014 in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, states that these targets are unlikely to be met with the pressures on biodiversity getting worse and in many countries biodiversity still in decline. At present, only about 13% of land and 1.6% of our oceans currently lie within protected areas, and half of nature’s most important sites remain unprotected (IUCN, 2012 IUCN Report, Nature+ Towards Nature Based Solutions).

The analysis of progress on the 2020 targets however did indicate that awareness of the problem had improved and efforts to raise funds to tackle the problem were accelerating, just not significantly enough.

One of the major challenges to achieving these targets is a lack of understanding of how much it will cost countries to reach them.

It was no surprise that at COP12, one of the most contentious negotiations item on the agenda was financing. A report from the High-Level Panel on global assessment of resources for implementing the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity estimated that it will cost between US$150 billion and US$440 billion per year to achieve the Aichi Targets by 2020. This is several magnitudes higher than current expenditures, estimated between US$51 and US$53 billion annually. (CBD, Resourcing the Aichi Biodiversity Targets: A First Assessment of the Resources Required for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020)

Aichi Target 20 states: “By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels.” 

At the Conference, developed countries reaffirmed the commitment that they made in Hyderabad (COP 11 in 2012), which was to double international financial flows for biodiversity conservation by 2015 and at least maintain this level by 2020. Additionally, for the first time, all governments committed to find ways to increase domestic resources for effective implementation of the Aichi Targets. There had been substantial disagreement on how to implement the funding decision made at Hyderabad.

This time, the participants decided to use average annual biodiversity funding for the years 2006-2010 as a baseline. In particular the targets are the least developed countries and the small island developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition.

At the Conference, governments also unanimously called for the new development agenda to integrate biodiversity into universal sustainable development goals adopted as the “Gangwon Declaration“.

In the declaration, signatories agreed to make biodiversity a major issue in future discussions for setting sustainable development goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda of the U.N. The aim of the Declaration is to enhanced implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity targets.

The Strategic Plan provides an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development. The Aichi targets are incorporated within the plan.

The adoption of the “Gangwon Declaration” was an important message from the CBD to the UN General Assembly, which is finalising the post 2015 UN development agenda and sustainable development goals (SD goals). The effect of the declaration was to highlight that biodiversity protection will be crucial to the achievement of these SD goals. The SD goals are being developed to replace, in 2015, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were introduced at the UN’s 2000 Millennium Summit. The aim is to include biodiversity preservation as one of the development goals for the coming years.

This will therefore aim to show the role that biodiversity plays in such issues as tackling poverty and creating economic opportunity and seeks to link the complex issues facing society with the potential solutions.

The Declaration followed one of the recommendations from the First Assessment Report for government to invest in ‘natural capital’ as this would help to deliver significant co-benefits for sustainable development as expenditure to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets should be recognised as part of wider investment needs for promoting sustainable development.

The report had also stated that “Without immediate action, the social and economic costs of biodiversity loss and the loss of ecosystem services will be felt at an accelerating rate in the future and will limit growth and stability. Investments made now will reduce resource requirements in the future.” 

The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, reaffirmed this when he said that:

“The cost of inaction to halt biodiversity decline would give rise to increasing and cumulative economic annual losses to the value of around $14 trillion by 2050,”  

The “Gangwon Declaration” holds significance because this is only the fourth adoption of a declaration in the history of CBD COPs.

About the author

Lori Frater

Lori is a lawyer, consultant and researcher with experience of advising international and national institutions, governments and companies on all aspects of national and international environmental law, including climate change and sustainability development. She has experience of policy development and legislative drafting. At present she specialises in legislative reform in particular on the ecosystem approach, nature based solutions to climate change as well as ecosystem services and natural resource management.