Governments advanced negotiations in Geneva on ambitious global biodiversity framework but require more time. Next stop: Nairobi.

The physical meeting of the resumed sessions of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) scientific and implementation bodies, and the working group tasked with developing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, was held in Geneva, Switzerland.


OEWG3, SBSTTA-24 and SBI-3 meetings, critical to developing an ambitious transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework to safeguard nature, resumed with in-person sessions from 14 to 29 March in Geneva, Switzerland.

Governments came to Geneva eager to meet in person and make progress on urgent action on the goals, targets and institutions needed to protect nature.” declared Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the CBD. She later completed “They have engaged in intense discussions drawing a variety of positions and shown the power of multilateralism and a willingness to seek common ground.”

Over the last 2 years, pledges have been issued by State Parties to the Convention (High Coalition on Nature and People, Leaders Pledge for Nature, Global Ocean Alliance), the finance and the business sectors (Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, Business For Nature’s Call to Action), local and subnational governments (SNLGs) (Edinburgh Declaration), the youth (Youth Manifesto), adding up to a Non-State Actors call to Action supported by 300+ organizations.

This growing momentum towards CBD COP15 was again echoed in the opening press conference by Elisabeth Maruma Mrema’s: “We urgently need an ambitious, transformative, universal and action-oriented framework. All stakeholders have been consulted in the process over the last 2 years – women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, business, finance, SNLGs, NGOs, and on.”

Side events – Engaging dialogues between Parties and stakeholders

The project organized a well-attended side event: THE PATHWAYS FOR TRANSFORMATIVE ACTION ON THE GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FRAMEWORK AND ITS IMPLEMENTATION with high-level speakers such as Elizabeth Maruma Mrema (CBD), Marco Lambertini (WWF International), Eva Zabey (Business For Nature).

Beyond this side event, the team engaged across multiple side events and led extensive discussions with Parties and stakeholders to map out early GBF implementation needs and design the projects future activities.

The project Team Leader, Hugo Rivera Mendoza, also displayed the projects’ vision for transformative change in an interview with the Secretariat of the Convention. He stated that the current draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework included “several transformative elements, including elements referring to making the funds available for its implementation and the inclusion of all levels of government and the whole of society”. However, he also reminded that we still need “a clear vision and clear pathways forward to make all goals a reality”.

Key voices to listen to

Many topics were covered in the dialogues at place in Geneva, engaging with IPLCs, women and youth on their involvement and expectations related to the GBF adoption and implementation.

The same needs to go. We’re tired of the same, the same business as usual. We need real transformative change that is equitable, based on the rights, inclusivity and diversity. So we the youth can start to be more hopeful.” Melina Sakiyama, GYBN

For Mexico Youth representation in the CBD negotiations is crucial. We have common visions and support transformative education and inclusion in the Global Biodiversity Framework.Frida Diaz, GYBN Mexico

We are here to bring to attention a stand-alone target on gender equality in the Global Biodiversity Framework.” Tina Rai, Women for Biodiversity
Many indigenous people and local communities are willing to integrate their territories in protected areas systems. Best practices exist, delivering good conservation outcomes. It is now a matter of elevating it into the Global Biodiversity Framework target. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, IIFB

Key topics under discussion

The project especially monitored crucial topics for the upcoming adoption of the Post 2020 GBF namely stakeholders’ representation, key aspects of biodiversity related to communications and awareness-raising campaigns, empowering consumers for sustainable consumption, developing multi-stakeholders approach involving policy makers and businesses to embed the value of biodiversity across decision-making and value chains.

Consumers can change the world. Business and governments can develop strategies, labels, sectoral policies, information programs, remove subsidies, promote best practices and guide business to sustainable production.” Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD Secretary General

We need a clear finish line. Businesses need and expect governance for transformative actions, investments and development. Business-as-usual is no longer an option. We are calling for mandatory requirements for businesses to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature.” Eva Zabey, Business for Nature Coalition, as 1000+ businesses have called for action to reverse nature loss by 2030.

Side-events on integrated spatial planning, mainstreaming landscape perspectives, transforming agro-food systems, biodiversity mainstreaming across sector, reforming biodiversity harmful subsidies and closing the biodiversity finance gap stood as crucial occasions for engaging delegates and parties in constructive dialogues.

Uganda uses policy mapping to inform its NBSAP’s review and is eager to further engage with partners to develop its monitoring and accountability framework.” Fred Onyai, National Environment Management Authority of Uganda.

Important messages were delivered and repeated by these various stakeholders in numerous events to trigger delegates interest for transformative actions.

Repurpose, redirect and eliminate biodiversity harmful subsidies. We need to look at the three options with a context specific vision. The small farmers are the one affected. Small examples of peer learning must be scaled up, with business’ partnerships.Dr. Vinod Mathur, India delegate from the National Biodiversity Authority.

Cities are on the frontline of the challenges we face as far as biodiversity is concerned.” Ingrid Coetzee, ICLEI CBC

Various events were also focusing on the importance of clear messages as an important factor to raise the awareness of the GBF. “Nature Positive means more Nature, more forest, more pollinators, more fishes, more biodiversity worldwide by 2030.” Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director, as over 300 organizations have rallied and signed the Non State Actors call for a nature positive world to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

We believe as EU that it will be very important to have a clear message coming out at CBD COP15 in Kunming.” Sylvie Lemmet, France’s Ambassador for the Environment standing as the Head of the EU delegation under the ongoing French Presidency of the EU.

Parties Discussions – Sharing their views in person for future greater convergence

The overarching goals of the draft framework—to protect the elements of biodiversity at all levels (genetic, species and ecosystem), sustainability and human well-being in the use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity—were reaffirmed during the Geneva sessions. Many suggestions added to the text, as well as milestones to assess progress, require additional consideration, with governments differing on the need and pacing.

The 21 draft targets for the framework also took center stage in discussions, with extensive engagement and suggestions for added elements coming from all Parties and regions. The intense discussions and high level of engagement by delegates led to a consensus that more negotiations are needed before COP. However, this shows that world governments hold great importance to the discussions.

Regarding the implementation of a new framework, Charlotta Sörqvist, SBI-3 Chair closed SBI-3 remarking that “as we work to develop a framework for the future of the world’s biodiversity, you have shown that you recognize the critical importance of effective implementation.”

When closing the corresponding SBSTTA-24 meeting, Hesiquio Benitez, SBSTTA-24 Chair expressed: “I’m very grateful to everyone for your passion and commitment, because we know that the responsibility of the world’s biodiversity is in our hand.

But not everything is ready. When finalizing the OEWG-3 discussions, Francis Ogwal, Co-Chair of the GBF negotiations mentioned that “we are getting into a very different phase of the process, one that will require listening and flexibility.”

On his side, at the closing press conference, Basile van Havre, the other Co-Chair of the GBF negotiations working group highlighted “During the session, governments retained the overall shape and structure of the first version of the framework, which includes goals, targets, and means of implementation, but added many other elements and qualification that require further negotiations. These are expected to be held at the end of June in Nairobi, where delegates will further refine the framework and agree on language to present for adoption in Kunming.”

On behalf of the COP15 Presidency at the closing of WG2020-3, Ms. Zhou Guomei of China announced that the country is not only supporting the process as President of COP15, but that “China has taken significant actions on the global stage by establishing the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to help implement the post2020 framework.”

During the closing plenary of WG2020-3, Anne-Theo Seinen, representing the EU and its Member States reminded all parties that “the scientific evidence is clear: the world is in a biodiversity crisis and we need to act now.”

Finally, Elisabeth Maruma Mrema laid the bar for the upcoming months by stating in her final intervention during the closing press conference: “We need a framework that is simple, communicable and that can be understood by those who are not negotiators, to be able to implement it.

Replay of the project’s side event “The pathways for transformative actions on the GBF and its implementation

Video Geneva UN Biodiversity Meetings: A Look Back

Video “Voices for Transformative Actions”

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