“Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people…
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks…
Let us go beyond bureaucratic words and focus on what matters. Our Mother Earth is sick; our Mother is trembling…”
With these powerful words by a representative of the Mohawk Nation, the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8j) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was opened on 4 November in Montreal, Canada. These words remind us of what is at stake. Nature provides our life-support systems and yet, humans keep on destroying it at alarming pace.
Concurrently to that meeting last week, the nineteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the CBD convened from 2-5 November 2015. The meeting discussed and took decisions on strategic, scientific and technical issues related to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including indicators to measure progress; biodiversity and human health; climate-related geo-engineering; forest biodiversity; and the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Agreeing with many delegations that called for increased synergies among the on-going and interrelated policy processes, particularly with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), IUCN stressed that these synergies should span goals, targets and indicators, and provide tools, guidance, and support to national authorities and stakeholders to meet these commitments. Highlighting the importance of understanding the impact of conservation efforts as a critical component of the ultimate aim of halting biodiversity loss, IUCN called on delegates to consider collective conservation actions in any assessment of progress. IUCN also agreed that if the drivers of biodiversity loss are to be tackled and the Strategic Plan delivered, biodiversity considerations have to be mainstreamed across all sectors, policies and plans, requiring true behavioural change.
When closing the SBSTTA meeting on Thursday 5 November, Chair Andrew Bignell, considered the recommendations adopted as a good foundation for the meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) that will take place in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2016. He highlighted the importance of establishing clear linkages with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the anticipated climate change agreement to be adopted in Paris at the end of the year.
Echoing the words of the Executive Secretary of the Convention, Braulio de Souza Dias, the end of the harvest season in North America is the perfect time to remind us of the benefits that nature provides to humans and which support our daily lives. The recommendations taken at this meeting should contribute to that realization.