Developing threats to global biodiversity must be addressed at CBD COP11

By Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity

It is 20 years since the international community adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity, and created one of the most powerful legal instruments in support of sustainable development. 

The CBD has now reached maturity.  Parties to the Convention adopted an agreed global biodiversity agenda, with a balanced set of targets: the Aichi targets, as well as general agreed rules for the implementation of the objectives of the Convention.

1. Conservation of biological diversity
2. Sustainable use of biological diversity
3. Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

However, as we move forward in our pursuit to achieve the Aichi targets – by the year 2020, the trend of biodiversity loss continues unabated. This reality shows us the mismatch between the commitments we have made and the actual implementation we are achieving.

COP 11, in its discussions, needs to address this gap.

Global fish stocks across the world are declining due to over fishing, pollution and acidification

It is obvious that we need a strong implementation push for the Convention. We need to adopt a pragmatic, multi-faceted approach which responds to the challenges posed by the trends of biodiversity loss and the opportunity offered by biodiversity, as a key part of the wealth of each country, toward achieving sustainable development.

We need to mainstream biodiversity into national development agendas. Biodiversity should not be perceived only as a problem to be solved but rather as an opportunity to help achieve broader goals within the social and economic spheres of our lives.

We need to mobilize international and national financial and other resources for reversing the current trends. This is one of the most important issues to be discussed at COP 11 – governments will set targets for the mobilization of resources to achieve the Aichi targets and the mechanisms for mobilizing them.

Cooperation and implementation

In doing this, Parties also need to become more strategic.  They need to prioritize approaches and mechanisms, emphasize the leveraging of resources from existing sources through mainstreaming biodiversity in different sectors, incorporate sustainability criteria in government procurements, review economic instruments, and promote the further engagement of the business sector.

We need to put in place a continuous monitoring system for the Aichi Targets to ensure that we remain on track for their achievement. Parties will spend some of their time during COP 11 looking at the integration of these targets into their national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

Parties to the Convention need to increase their capacity to implement the CBD goals, programs and targets. This could be best achieved through more structured and continuous capacity development processes at sub-regional and  regional levels.

There is also the need to promote more effective scientific, technical and technological cooperation among Parties on technology transfer and exchange of lessons learned at national levels, which has been lacking so far.

We need to promote much stronger recognition and support to community-based approaches for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, thus increasing on one side the protected areas effort and on the other side promoting human well-being, food security and poverty alleviation.

We also need to expand the engagement of the business sector by enhancing the enabling environment through government policies and procurement rules and by outreach and guidance to small and medium sized enterprises.

Urgent action

Finally, we also need to address some of the most serious issues in biodiversity loss.  The oceans, in particular need much more attention. As a result of climate change, over fishing and pollution from a number of sources, these vast ecosystems are becoming fragile and entire food chains are at risk of disappearing.

COP11, in its discussions, has the opportunity to link up with other global ocean initiatives including the UNCLOS, and the recently launched Ocean Compact.

The relevance of biodiversity to the climate change agenda also needs more attention. Reaching the Aichi Targets will be a significant contribution towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The time for action is now.  We need to devote more resources for biodiversity and sustainable development.  The cost is going to be great, but the costs of not acting now, will be much higher.

Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias is the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Before joining the Secretariat, he was Secretary of Biodiversity and Forests at the Brazilian Ministry of the Environmen, and before that was Director for Biodiversity Conservation since 1999, overseeing national biodiversity and forest programs directly implemented by the Ministry of the Environment.

Read more on: Nature |