Lack of ambition hampers Nairobi talks as countries waver over new nature deal
Nature is in crisis and time is running out. The latest round of negotiations for a new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) has just ended in Nairobi, Kenya.
This was to be a critical step on the road to the Conference of the Parties to the Biodiversity Convention in December in Montreal (COP15), hosted by China. As nature declines globally at a rate unprecedented in human history, with severe impacts, especially on vulnerable people and countries, a consensus has emerged that we must halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
We must have more nature at the end of the decade than at the start – a nature-friendly world for people and planet – with governments, businesses and society coming together to ensure that biodiversity loss is reversed.
The text on the table at the end of these negotiations is inconclusive and lamentably insufficient. We leave with many elements for a solid global agreement on the table, but we need new negotiations with difficult decisions still to come. We had hoped for more and nature needs more; however, we are far from being on the path to a transformative agreement at COP15.
Agreeing and embracing a truly transformative and inclusive GBF is a once-a-decade opportunity that should not be missed. A chance for all of us to be part of a historic moment, for nature and people, given the precarious state of our planet’s biodiversity.
“The world needs to understand how essential it is that an ambitious agreement is adopted at COP15. Climate change and nature are inextricably linked – nature is impacted by climate change but is also part of the solution. We call on leaders to give nature’s crisis the attention it requires. Most of the key elements of an ambitious framework are on the table and consensus is being built – but tough choices remain, and ambition must build from Nairobi on the road to COP15 for a favorable agreement the nature the world needs,” notes Melanie Heath, director of science, policy and information at BirdLife International.
“Governments and stakeholders have no better chance than now to put in place a framework that will transform the harmful way we live, to the detriment of biodiversity and ultimately ourselves. A business-as-usual approach is not an option. The new framework must contain bold and transformative elements, including increased and predictable funding to support implementation,” notes Ken Mwathe, Policy and Communications Coordinator, BirdLife International Africa.
“The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework truly takes into account the knowledge gathered from science and stakeholders over the past decades. This meeting in Nairobi, presented as a crucial avenue to bring our actions together before COP15 in Montreal, provided a chance for the Parties present to really go beyond feelings and replace words with action by producing an ambitious text in all its ramifications. . Unfortunately, that remains to be seen,” says Yemisi Fawibe-Oke, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (BirdLife partner in Nigeria).
Human activities have led to the disappearance of 83% of animal species and 50% of plant species since the dawn of civilization. Being positive for nature means halting and reversing the loss of species, and BirdLife International has been at the forefront of addressing this issue on the African continent. One example is Morocco, where the griffon vulture is now breeding after 40 years, thanks to the efforts of the BirdLife Partner organization in the country. In Southern Africa, BirdLife Partners is working to save vultures whose populations have declined by up to 97%. Linked to this is the conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) which contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, across terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems.
Agriculture is a critical sector in Africa, employing over 60% of the continent’s workforce. Biodiversity is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss in Africa. Thus, an effective global biodiversity framework should address nature-friendly farming methods, including reducing harmful pesticides and regenerative agriculture, while protecting beneficial organisms, including pollinators and birds.
BirdLife International calls for an ambitious framework in four areas in particular. First, we call on the global community to put in place a framework to halt species extinctions and increase the abundance of species populations, by addressing the factors that push species toward extinction. Such action should reverse species decline so that we are nature positive by 2030. Second, there is a need to effectively manage an expanded system of protected and conserved areas covering 30% of the earth’s land and oceans. by 2030, which focus on KBAs and other areas important for biodiversity.
Linked to this is the critical role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), who number around 476 million people, or around 6% of the world’s population, but inhabit around 85% of the areas proposed for biodiversity conservation. Thus, IPLCs are essential partners in helping to ensure the protection, conservation and restoration of ecosystems. By working with partners and local communities through our “local to global” approach, we have demonstrated significant conservation success, and we therefore welcome the recognition of the rights and essential role played by IPLCs in the Nairobi talks.
Finally, the new framework must have an effective mechanism and means of implementation. This includes a clear monitoring and reporting framework and predictable and increased funding. Africa faces a huge biodiversity conservation funding gap, estimated at around $700 billion every year, so closing this funding gap is critical.
Given the slow pace of the negotiations observed in Nairobi, much more commitment and political support at the highest level is needed before Montreal. Addressing biodiversity loss requires ambition, leadership, cooperation and political will from countries, without which the world would enter a bleak future.
Time is running out and the alarm is sounding: we must use the coming months wisely to work together to ensure that the final negotiations are a success.