CBD COP11 News round-up for Monday October 15th

The Indian media, led by The Hindu, have tipped us off to witness evidence of survival of an endangered species at tomorrow’s launch of the ministerial segment of the Hyderabad COP11. No less than a package of new finance to halt the loss of biodiversity is promised in the keynote speech of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

This is hardly surprising news. Most governments of means arrive at these summits armed with a lollipop announcement. I’ll be more interested in what Mr Singh has to say. He normally makes a cerebral effort for international events held in India and has a domestic political interest in being associated with a decent result from the COP.

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It wasn’t a great day for progress on finance. Weekend efforts by a “friends of the chair” group of negotiators to find a compromise approach fell on very stony ground.

We’re told that the rich countries want a baseline position agreed before talking about money for poorer countries. I’m not sure whether they mean a financial baseline (of current aid for biodiversity) or a current rate of loss (of biodiversity). Either way it sounds like a figleaf.

As so often, some rather more credible explanations for what was happening leaked out on Twitter:

 

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The Global Environment Fund, the current main source of multilateral finance for biodiversity, showed off its new Executive Director, Dr. Naoko Ishii, from Japan. She talked about a new “vision statement” but didn’t seem to address the main grumbles of recipient countries which are the bureaucratic pace of distributions by the GEF and a lack of involvement in strategy.

And we’ll need to learn more about Dr Ishii’s verdict that “without having the private sector as a partner, we cannot achieve transformational change.”

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Whichever way you look, there’s evidence of tension over the inevitable discrepancies opening up between the three 1992 Rio Conventions  – on biodiversity, climate change and desertification. It seemed so sensible then to keep them separate. Now, in my darker moments, I feel like welcoming one of those teams of investment bankers specialising in complex mergers.

Today alone I heard the CBD Executive Secretary talk about the importance of “synergy” with the UN Climate Convention in an RTCC interview, while Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group, said that “the two Conventions should be working closely together.”

The Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) served notice of a team  descending on COP11 on a mission to ensure common gender positions between the three treaties. And the folks from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification held its Land Day event right there on CBD’s turf in Hyderabad.

As for the negotiators themselves – they’re landed with “ironing out contradictions” between the CBD agreements and the safeguard provisions for REDD+ agreed in climate negotiations. Believe me, that’s a road going nowhere in a hurry.

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As yet, there’s no sign of the global activist groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth on the press conference schedules. We badly need them around. Worse still I saw this exchange with the Guardian’s environment editor:

 

I’ve already detected signs that the press conferences are a pushover for the presenters. The local Indian journalists have worked up tremendous interest and coverage on biodiversity but I’m not sure about their grasp of the bigger picture.

There’s a good test tomorrow when the TEEB crowd gets an outing. Ask the panel how to put a price on a tiger when there’s only one left.

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background briefings on Biodiversity

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