Story | 07 Sep, 2022

Brackets on our future

CEESP News: Swetha Stotra Bhashyam, GYBN Global South Focal Point & Chair of CEESP Youth Engagements and Intergenerational Partnerships 

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Youth action at OEWG-4 to push parties to lift the brackets on all text that is needed for us to live in harmony with nature.


It's unfair to be a young person in today’s world. It's unfair that my generation and future generations have to pay the price of the over-exploitation and inaction of a privileged few people of previous generations.  It’s unfair that I need to worry about how many years I can live in a safe and healthy environment on this planet. In spite of representing half of the world's population, we are under-represented and don’t have a chance to influence key decision-making spaces. Our generation can clearly see the interconnected world we live in, and a pathway forward from the current broken social and economic systems. But we are forced to suffer the consequences of the inadequate, unreflected, siloed, same too-little-too-late decisions being made by today’s world leaders.

This is how I felt as a youth attending the 4th meeting of the open-ended working group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG-4) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The OEWG-4 meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 21st to 26th June 2022 to remove a significant amount of  the brackets in the text (unnegotiated policy text) and fine-tune the current text of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (Post-2020 GBF). The Post-2020 GBF is a 10-year policy framework for biodiversity which is considered as a critical stepping stone towards achieving the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. However by the end of the negotiations, the policy framework ended up with 1800 brackets and 26 new ideas that were proposed by Parties (signatory countries to the CBD). Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema mentioned that the Post-2020 GBF has now turned into the “Global Bracketed Framework,” given the current state of the text.  

Brackets on our futurePhoto: Swetha Stotra Bhashyam

The negotiations were a bigger setback in terms of defending and upholding a human rights-based approach. In the name of “improving the readability of the proposed targets in the text,” government delegates moved a lot of the critical text on the rights-based approach and Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) into the new unnegotiated and very unclear section called B bis. It is clearer than ever before that crucial language on protecting human rights is needed in the Post-2020 GBF to stop the ongoing slaughter and eviction of Indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) in the name of wildlife conservation. Yet, we see that Parties decided to take out Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the proposed target text on area-based conservation. On the other hand, rights of nature and Mother-Earth Centered Actions received good support within the framework. However, everything still remains in brackets within final consensus.

When the Post-2020 GBF was being drafted, the Co-chairs Mr. Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Mr. Basile van Havre (Canada) said they wanted this to be a “framework for all”. But instead of pushing for this framework to ensure collective well-being, parties and institutions want to see their own interests reflected in this framework. It is clear that parties and institutions do not really feel the urgency in solving the biodiversity crisis as long as they get their “piece of meat” within the Post-2020 GBF.  

If the current Post-2020 GBF as the “Global Bracketed Framework” is taken to COP15 (Conference of Parties), there is a very real fear that the high-level decision-makers will not be able to resolve it either, thus risking that the framework gets further watered down. 

We need to stop the same. We can’t keep making decisions as we used to in the past. We have a more comprehensive understanding of the way the system is broken and how our current priorities are just connected with profit. We need to shift our priorities from unlimited production and consumption patterns towards a society, and institutions with economic systems and technologies based on equity, rights, responsibility, and honest intention that would lead us to a just transition.