There is no plan(et) B: UN Biodiversity conference presented at European Parliament

08 October 2012 | News story

Looking ahead to the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11) starting today in Hyderabad (India), the Secretariat of the European Parliament Intergroup on ‘Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’ organized a session on 26 September to inform the Parliament’s delegation to the event and interested parties on the main issues and recommendations for the COP11.  

The COP11 follows up on the key decisions taken two years ago at the COP10 in Japan. In particular, Parties will discuss the progress on the Strategic Plan, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and the Strategy for Resource Mobilisation. Other important issues on the agenda are island, and marine and coastal biodiversity. For more information, see here.

Member of European Parliament (MEP) Struan Stevenson, Chair of the Intergroup, started the event highlighting the importance of biological diversity and its role in the survival of humankind. With the prospect of a fast population increase in coming decades, Stevenson stressed the need for a sustainable use of natural resources. “The EP delegation to the COP11 needs to take this strong message to the negotiations in Hyderabad” stated Stevenson.

IUCN’s position for the COP11 negotiations was presented by Sonia Peña Moreno, IUCN Senior Policy Officer – Biodiversity. The coming COP is “a health check on how we are doing in order to reach the 2020 goals”, she said. IUCN will focus on the implementation of the Strategic Plan, especially at the national level, through the development and revision of solid National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) linked to the global Aichi Targets. For IUCN, it is desirable that public policies encourage the private sector to engage more actively in biodiversity conservation and the implementation of the Plan. Ms. Peña Moreno also emphasized the need for an integrated approach in which different Aichi targets are linked and addressed together. Regarding mobilization of resources, IUCN will like to see a meaningful discussion on the resources needed to finance biodiversity conservation including through innovative mechanisms that will contribute to bridge the funding gap. The sense of urgency which permeated the discussions back at COP10 should remain high as “there is no plan(et) B”.

MEP Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, Member of the EP delegation, emphasized the importance of local citizens in the debate. Society at large needs to understand the value of biological diversity. “Convincing the public is getting the right language” reacted Stevenson, “the issue needs to be linked with reality, so that a farmer or a fisherman can see the importance of biodiversity in his or her daily practice”.

The debate “has to move from words to action” said Matthias Buck, Policy Officer in the European Commission, DG Environment. Since COP10 where the international community has decided on the Nagoya Protocol, nations across the world have shown little efforts to take the agreed strategy into implementation. The European Commission aims at having a legislative proposal which incorporates the global strategy on biodiversity. This could serve as an example for the rest of the world. The EP delegation “functions as visitors and the negotiations are a learning process in order to take the debate further into the European Union” added MEP Gutiérrez-Cortines.

François Wakenhut, Head of the Unit at DG Environment stressed “A strategic plan has been decided during the last COP, now we have to ensure delivery”. A central issue during the negotiations in Hyderabad will concern the resource mobilization strategy. The rather general decisions taken in 2010 on reporting requirements and the establishment of baselines need to be clarified. Mr. Wakenhut foresees a clash between developed countries which will argue that without concrete baseline scenarios liberating resources should not be discussed, and developing countries maintaining that enough data is available to take action now. Other key issues will be the discussion on the marine agenda, enabling a funding framework agreed upon in 2010, synthetic biology, REDD+ and the agenda on biofuels.

Programme Officer of UNEP, Thierry Lucas supported the view of the Nagoya package being a promising strategy reminding that the focus in the coming negotiations should lie on the process of implementation. Bruna Campos, EU Financial Perspectives Policy Officer at Birdlife and Conservation International, concluded the event providing concrete examples which show that the financial benefits from managing and reducing the impacts of biodiversity loss clearly exceed the resources required to implement the Nagoya protocol. Hence, conserving now means saving money in the future.