From conservation to transformative change for biodiversity: On the road to CBD COP15 in Kunming” at the European Development Days 2021

Discussing the pathways to transformative governance of biodiversity, from protected areas effectiveness
Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework . EU Support explored integrated biodiversity conservation and sustainable use strategies with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme at an Agora session on the occasion of the European Development Days 2021.

The momentum grows to turn 2021 into a year for transformative action for Nature and People, with global assessments showing that most of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed upon at COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will not be reached. While Aichi biodiversity target 11, relating to protected areas and conservation is projected to be one of the closest to being achieved, the question of the contribution of conservation to biodiversity governance remains.

Are protected areas enough to bend the curve of biodiversity loss? Which other mechanisms should be considered to ensure conservation as well as human wellbeing? How should these be enshrined in the wider framework of nature governance, including in particular the sustainable use of biodiversity, poverty eradication, stewardship of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, consideration of future generations, landscape approaches and ecological solidarity? In a space where a great variety of stakeholders operate, conservation must become one of the many tools to reach systemic change and achieve both the CBD’s 2050 Vision of Living in Harmony with Nature and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Reconciling conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is one of the main concerns of Parties to the CBD and many stakeholders. As the Convention is set to decide on a new global biodiversity framework at COP15 in Kunming, China, how can this agreement be a vehicle to make this vision a reality?” Hugo Rivera Mendoza, Deputy Team Leader, Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support

Hugo Rivera-Mendoza from Post-2020 Biodiversity – EU Support and Meriem Bouamrane, Chief of Section, Man and the Biosphere programme (UNESCO) took the stage on the occasion of the European Development Days 2021 to discuss pathways to transformative governance of biodiversity, from protected areas effectiveness to nature’s intricate links with all aspects of livelihoods and prosperity.

Observing that the focus on conservation and protected areas, while reaching quantitative targets, did not trigger the expected outcomes in terms of improvements of the global biodiversity trends, the speakers questioned the vision of protection as the isolation of a certain percentage of land or marine areas from human activities. They highlighted that, for a thriving relation between People and Nature to happen, one must not be excluded from the other. Rather, Ms. Bouamrane presented a vision in which sustainable human activities put Nature at the core of life and its support systems, where biodiversity’s wealth is recognized and invested in, and where all knowledge available is used towards a common goal.

It is really important to have a Post-2020 Biodiversity deal that everybody feels ownership of, including business companies.Meriem Bouamrane, Chief of Section Ecology and Biodiversity, Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, Man & the Biosphere Programme, UNESCO

Moving on to the question of operationalizing this vision, both agreed that challenges include: mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors and ministries, fostering collaborative between actors, investing in nature, reforming our economies and allowing for best cases of human-nature relations to be known, validated and scaled-up. Amongst these, it was recalled that other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) showed great promises in reconciling biodiversity and humanity. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserves were hailed as a way to put nature, ecosystems and their potential at the core of development and to support a shift in values in the way People perceive their position on Earth.

To reach true transformative change at CBD COP15 and enable an ambitious implementation of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, Mr. Rivera Mendoza and Ms. Bouamrane concurred that it was time for urgent action to break silos, work collaboratively, and recognize the benefits biodiversity brings in, around and outside conserved areas.

“We don’t have two planets, one for people, one for nature. They are interlinked and we must build on the post pandemic mindset to protect our one planet.” wraps up the journalist Claire Doole, moderator of the event.

Organised by the European Commission, the European Development Days (EDD) bring the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. The EDD is a participatory programme. EDD 2021’s title is “The Green Deal for a Sustainable Future”.

Watch our Agora session featuring our Deputy Team Leader Hugo Rivera Mendoza:

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