The principal international treaty addressing biodiversity is the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Convention was one of several important outcomes of the Rio de Janeiro “Earth Summit” in 1992.
A Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 was approved at the 2010 CBD conference at Nagoya in Japan, supported by goals known as the “Aichi Biodiversity Targets.” The Aichi targets were largely reproduced in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the all-embracing development programme approved by world leaders at the UN in 2015. The SDGs tackle biodiversity in separate goals addressing marine and terrestrial concerns:
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems…. and halt biodiversity loss
Achieving biodiversity targets will also be essential to the SDGs relating to food security and freshwater.
Prospects for SDGs relating to biodiversity suffered a setback as the 2020 Aichi targets came under scrutiny. The CBD’s most recent progress assessment, known as the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, concluded that: “none of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be fully met, in turn threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and undermining efforts to address climate change.” There is concern that many National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans are neither sufficiently aligned with the Targets nor adequately resourced.
Adequate resourcing is indeed a challenge for the CBD itself; its major conferences are held only every two years, lacking the media and political commitment enjoyed by the sister UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Financial flows from richer to poorer countries in support of biodiversity plans are a fraction of climate finance. And the United States has never signed the CBD.
The crucial 2020 CBD conference, tasked with articulating a new strategic plan to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030, has fallen victim to Covid-19. Negotiations on the draft of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework have commenced, with the aim of concluding agreement at a rescheduled conference in 2021.
As a rallying cry to restore confidence in multilateral action on biodiversity, over 80 countries, including the European Union, have signed a “Leaders’ Pledge for Nature,” committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
Since 2013 the CBD has been advised by a scientific body, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES aims to improve the quality of scientific advice to policy makers and to identify priorities for much-needed new research.
ore Biodiversity briefings (updated March 2021)
Importance of Biodiversity
Causes of Biodiversity Loss
Climate Change and Biodiversity
Conservation of Biodiversity
Solutions to Biodiversity Loss
Biodiversity Access and Benefit-Sharing
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