When Climate met Biodiversity

22 Nov, 2021

Key takeaways from Part-1 of CBD COP15 and UNFCCC COP26

Compiled and edited by Neha Owaisy, Junior Communication Officer, GIZ

The long-awaited CBD-COP15 part one of two and COP26 saw their share of commitments, hits and misses.

Almost 2918 delegates in Kunming, and 2478 connecting online, participated in part one of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP-15) from 12-15 October, setting the stage for adopting an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the resumption of the meeting in spring 2022. The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October-12 November bringing together heads of state, climate experts, civil society, companies, campaigners, and people on the frontline of climate change.

"The fact that the two COPs are taking place pretty much back-to-back gives us that excellent opportunity to show how issues of biodiversity and climate change are inseparable," said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), "climate change is becoming an increasingly serious driver of biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation - and that loss threatens to worsen climate change."

"At the national level, we should not look at climate change in isolation from biodiversity because then we end up with duplication of activities or contradiction and conflicts," she said, pointing to projects that may help mitigate climate change but end up increasing nature loss.

The two-day High-Level Segment (12-13 October) at COP15, opened with the announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping of the 1.5 billion-yuan (about $233 million) Kunming Biodiversity Fund, saw the adoption of the Kunming Declaration, where Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) committed to negotiate an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework that can bend the curve of biodiversity loss.

The landmark framework, due for adoption at the resumption of the UN Biodiversity Conference in May 2022 following further formal negotiations in January 2022, offers clear political direction for those negotiations. Important initiatives and commitments introduced during the meeting included the announcement by the Global Environment Facility, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme, that they will fast-track financial and technical support to developing country governments to prepare for the rapid implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

In November the World Leaders Summit, which saw 120 Heads of State and Government set the tone for COP26 in Glasgow towards making a series of significant commitments to take national action and collaborate on tackling climate change. It also reaffirmed the continuation of key principles from the Paris Agreement and previous COPs, including multilateralism, and the importance of nature and biodiversity to climate action, as well as human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, empowerment of women among many others. Sustainable recovery from Covid-19 and solidarity with vulnerable parties to global efforts to tackle climate change remained an important topic in the discussions.

Some commitments in tandem with the COP26 goal to ‘Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats’ to protect and restore ecosystems, and build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods -

  • Over 130 leaders representing over 85% of the world’s forests will commit to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030 in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.
  • £8.75 billion ($12bn) of public funds will be committed to protect and restore forests (Global Forest Finance Pledge), alongside £5.3 billion ($7.2 billion) of private investment. The former will support activities in developing countries, including restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and supporting the rights of indigenous communities.
  • CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion of global assets committed to eliminate investment in activities linked to deforestation.
  • Nine multilateral development banks also launched a joint statement outlining the actions they will take to mainstream nature into their policies, analysis, assessments, advice, investments and operations.
  • 28 governments, representing 75% of global trade in key commodities that can threaten forests, have signed up to a new Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Statement. The purpose of the FACT dialogue is to promote sustainable development and trade of agricultural commodities while protecting and managing sustainably forests and other critical ecosystems.

It was widely expected that COP26 would have a significant focus on how we respond to the growing impacts that cause loss and damage to millions, including the loss of lives, livelihoods and ecosystems. This has been a controversial issue in recent years, not least given strongly held different views on liability and compensation for climate change impacts. Support and action to avert, minimise and address loss and damage is part of international assistance under adaptation, disaster prevention, disaster preparedness disaster response and rehabilitation budgets. This COP made clear statements that the changing climate has already and will increasingly cause loss and damage. It endorsed the need for more money to be provided to tackle loss and damage through existing sources but did not reach consensus on a proposal from developing countries to set up a financing facility dedicated to loss and damage.

As the science makes clear, there is no viable route to limiting global warming to 1.5C without nature. The final texts of the decisions recognise the importance of nature and ecosystems, and the connection between the climate and biodiversity challenges we face. It emphasizes nature’s critical role in achieving the Paris Agreement goal.

The UN Biodiversity Conference Part 2, meetings will resume in-person to conclude negotiations, decide on new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and a high-level segment will resume 25 April - 8 May 2022.





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