Ambitious goals: COP15 adopts Kunming Declaration

European Business & Biodiversity Campaign - News

Ambitious goals: COP15 adopts Kunming Declaration

More than 100 of the nearly 200 participating states at the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) have committed themselves to an intensified fight against biodiversity and recorded their ambitions in the Kunming Declaration, named after the conference venue.

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10/18/2021: The Kunming declaration was intended to present a powerful statement. However, after the Aichi targets of 2010 were largely missed, there is skepticism about the declaration, also because it lacks legal binding force. The text is certainly a strong signal, but what matters now is implementation, especially in the run-up to the second part of COP15 in April and May 2022.
 
In the Kunming Declaration, signatories stated their intention to develop, adopt and implement an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework that puts biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 at the latest. The goal is to fully realize the vision of "living in harmony with nature" by 2050.
 
Companies must also contribute
 
The declaration sets out the intentions of the signatories and provides the basis for work in the coming months. The concrete targets (like the Aichi targets at the time) will then be decided at the second part of the conference in April and May next year. A draft already exists, which provisionally names 21 biodiversity targets. If the draft is ultimately approved, it would place obligations not only on the governments of the participating countries, but also on companies. For example, the 15th target states that all companies should assess and report their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, progressively reduce negative impacts by at least half, and increase positive impacts. Conversely, companies are calling on the world's governments to set clearer frameworks and concrete action plans (GNF reported: Financial institutions call for clear framework for biodiversity).
 
The Kunming Declaration also calls for incorporating the value of biodiversity into all decision-making processes, aligning biodiversity and climate policies, and emphasizing the urgency of full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the development and implementation of global action plans.
 
A fund for biodiversity
 
The declaration, however, was not the only highlight of the 15th Biodiversity Conference, which was supposed to take place in 2020 but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chinese head of state Xi Jinping announced that he would set up a financial injection in the form of a fund, the so-called Kunming Biodiversity Fund, of the equivalent of 230 million USD for nature conservation in developing countries. In his speech, he linked this with an invitation to other countries to participate and also pay into the fund. He also promised increased national efforts for biodiversity conservation, saying China would further expand its nature reserves.
 
Japan announced it would increase its existing biodiversity fund by about 17 million USD to support national strategies and action plans. Meanwhile, prompt financial and technical assistance to developing country governments was promised by the Global Environment Facility in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
 
Biodiversity protection as a measure against climate change
 
France's President Emmanuel Macron pledged to devote 30 percent of national climate funds to biodiversity conservation. The British government's announcement that it would invest a significant proportion of its climate funds in biodiversity conservation was a move in the same direction. Steps like these show that biodiversity conservation has so far played a subordinate role as a measure against climate change, but that a rethink is now taking place.
 
Germany's Environment Minister Svenja Schulze called for "ambitious and concrete" targets to be adopted at the second part of COP15. The targets would then have to be translated into national action plans, and their fulfillment monitored. She also endorsed plans to place 30 percent of land and oceans under protection by 2030. Furthermore, she stressed the need to use the time until the second part of the conference to address outstanding issues in a constructive dialogue.
 
The second part of COP 15 will take place as a face-to-face event in Kunming from April 25 to May 8, 2022. There, the new global framework for biodiversity after 2020 is to be decided.

Author: GNF
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