On this occasion, Didier Babin, team leader of the project, reminded participants of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), saying that despite successes to date, the “tragic” loss of biodiversity has continued, consequentially endangering humans’ prosperity.
He drew attention to taking stock of lessons learned from the successes and shortfalls of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
He stressed that the post-2020 biodiversity targets should not duplicate ongoing efforts but facilitate the emergence of ideas that are “outside the box”.
He noted five specific objectives that should be considered in a post-2020 biodiversity agenda, including: broadening and strengthening negotiators’ mandates to address strategic issues, such as sustainable consumption and production; identifying tensions between the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the CBD objectives; clarifying the role of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems; enhancing the mobilization of civil society actors; and integrating a post-2020 biodiversity agenda as a basis for the post-SDG era and “the road to 2050.”
Cristiana Paşca Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary, stressed the need for a post-2020 biodiversity agenda that is more innovative, transformative, and ambitious than the one that has existed over the last 25 years. She stated that while progress has been made, it is not enough to deviate from business as usual, noting the need for “transformative change,” which will be defined in terms of the knowledge and capacities to engage in protecting biodiversity.
She said the mainstreaming of biodiversity must extend to sectors that have not yet been considered, including mining, industry, and health. She emphasized the importance of taking a “systems approach” for transformative change in unlocking the “path dependency” of business as usual. This, she noted, would require a broad range of actors to engage in a bottom-up dialogue that brings natural capital and biodiversity to the core of decision making.
She stressed that such an approach requires enhanced accountability, an inclusive process for defining voluntary contributions, and engagement with social scientists to contribute innovative techniques and alternative approaches to systems thinking that can lead to transformative change. She concluded stressing that the next two years should be viewed “as a period to incubate some disruption of the path dependencies of the system.”
Anne Theo Seinen, European Commission, emphasized that strengthening voluntary commitments of stakeholders, particularly through National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NPSAPs) should remain the “cornerstone of implementation” of the Convention’s commitments. In particular, he noted that voluntary commitments are important for accelerating implementation, holding parties accountable, and facilitating assessment of the achievement of global targets.
Moustafa Fouda, CBD National Focal Point, Egypt, questioned whether the CBD has “done its job properly,” noting that since business as usual is no longer tenable, innovative thinking is going to be mandatory to push the biodiversity agenda forward. He underscored the need to identify “champions of biodiversity” and creative ways of engaging with youth to build on existing efforts and to offer new opportunities.
Gu Li, Director, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China, stressed that a theme of transformative change must transpire at CBD COP 15 in 2020. She likened the post-2020 biodiversity agenda to the confluence of “small streams into a larger river.” This, she said, refers to the convergence of ongoing initiatives towards enhanced consensus on action for transformative change.
In the ensuing discussion between the panellists and participants, several opportunities were suggested for advancing a post-2020 biodiversity agenda. Participants identified, inter alia:
- the need for technical assistance to mainstream biodiversity within financial procedures and products;
- ensuring that benefits-sharing goes beyond monetary outcomes to get more indigenous young women involved in science;
- assuring that a greater voice is provided to citizens, and not just to business and science, to uncover what “relations of value for nature” mean for people around the world;
- creating an enabling environment for citizen science, particularly within national educational sectors;
- rethinking the language of communication on biodiversity; and
- the importance of reforming the environmental sector to effectively mainstream biodiversity.
Participants also noted the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity, and of clearly defining indicators to track progress for evaluating how mainstreaming can lead to transformative change.