This early Summer, a series of 3 virtual dialogues brought together various key stakeholders coming from the civil society, the private sector and the public sector to promote the coherent and systemic changes that is necessary to advance sustainable development in the region and to debate pathways for the prompt implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF).
A megadiverse region facing significant challenges in biodiversity, food production and territorial equity
The Latin America and Caribbean region, as one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and home to megadiverse countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, faces significant challenges in conserving its natural and cultural heritage.
In the region, like globally, the dominant form of food production is unsustainable and represents a major driver of the numerous interconnected crises facing the world. It accounts for up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, up to 80% of biodiversity loss, and up to 70% of freshwater usage (UNSDG, 2023) not to mention its direct linkage with the decline of pollinators and other native species.
The growing demand for food products has also led to the expansion of agricultural areas and intensive use of agrochemicals, contributing to soil degradation. Addressing the integration and governance of biodiversity that reconcile food systems with nature is crucial in light of the pivotal role they play in global biodiversity loss.
At the same time, Latin America and the Caribbean is a region with extraordinary cultural wealth that can play a key role in advancing the goals of the KMGBF. Paradoxically, indigenous peoples and local communities, women, young people, and Afro-descendant individuals often face multiple inequalities and are frequently subjected to the most intense impacts of biodiversity degradation and loss. At the same time, they have less representation in decision-making spaces, including those related to environmental action and climate change despite the fact that they often exhibit lower deforestation rates and other environmental damages.
To achieve the long-term goals of the KMGBF there is need for strategic approaches for transformative change that help to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss and reconcile the three dimensions of sustainable development. This can be addressed through comprehensive tools that provide multidimensional benefits, such as transectorial mainstreaming of biodiversity and innovative governance for transformative change in favor of biodiversity (Alvarado, Tambutti, & Rankovic, 2022; Catacora-Vargas et al., 2022).
3 virtual dialogues to engage the LAC biodiversity community
In September 2019, ECLAC co-hosted a workshop of high-level biodiversity experts from the LAC region to share their experiences and visions to move towards sustainable development and to contribute to the elaboration of the KMGBF. As a follow-up, ECLAC conducted two studies identifying and comparing primary factors that facilitate or impede biodiversity mainstreaming and innovative governance. During CBD COP15 in Montreal, ECLAC and the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework-EU support project organized a side event to present the studies and discuss their results.
This recent series of virtual dialogues was the direct continuity of these previous initiatives and aimed to:
- Engage new actors in the discussion and reflection process, on the transformative changes and just transitions needed to reintegrate the three dimensions of sustainable development in LAC.
- Reflect on and debate how the KMGBF can contribute to the promotion of sustainable food systems, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the region and the key factors for promoting coherent and systemic changes.
- Enhance the catalytic role of development planning from the governance framework, policies and monitoring for the implementation of instruments and/or actions that drive the transformative changes proposed by the KMGBF.
- Identify and debate the main challenges, needs, best practices and opportunities for broad multi-actor early implementation of the KMGBF, including biodiversity mainstreaming and innovative governance as tools for sustainable management of terrestrial and marine resources.
- Collect and generate key data and information for the development of future tools on biodiversity mainstreaming in development policies and innovative governance, promoting a regional vision on key issues and processes for the implementation of the KMGBF under a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach.
To be in sync with the whole-of-society approach encouraged by the KMGBF (Target 22), the format of the dialogues aimed at actively engaging different sectors of society from NGOs and private businesses, to regional and national public administrations, in order to achieve a comprehensive and multisector vision that drives concrete actions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the region.
- The first virtual dialogue took place on 29 June 2023 and involved representatives from organized civil society, including women, indigenous peoples, local communities, international cooperation’s stakeholders, youth, and academia.
- The second virtual dialogue was held on 4 July 2023 and gathered representatives from the business and financial sectors.
- The third virtual dialogue took place on 7 July 2023, engaging participants from various governmental levels, including the regional, national, and subnational.
During these dialogues, various stakeholders had the opportunity to contribute in a safe and open space for the collective creation of knowledge. Diverse personalities involved in the event organization shared their thoughts to encourage a constructive participation from all stakeholders.
“This initiative is a natural continuation of the project’s efforts to support the implementation of the KMGBF in the LAC region. We hope that these spaces will help find concrete pathways for mainstreaming biodiversity into productive systems in the continent for the benefit of nature and people”, said Hugo Rivera Mendoza, Team Leader of the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework-EU Support.
In the first dialogue with organized civil society, Amelia Arreguin, Chair of the CBD’s Women Caucus, emphasized that “Ensuring that IPLC, women & youth fully exercise their rights to information, participation and justice is an inescapable duty of governments & companies for KMGBF implementation in the region. In particular for sustainable development planning & agriculture.”
During the private sector dialogue, Nicolas Thomas, Knowledge & Capacity Building Coordinator, Post2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project, pointed out in his welcome words, that “The KMGBF sends a clear signal that the status quo is no longer viable to address the multiple social, economic, & ecological crises. Promoting profound changes in the agricultural sector while informing consumers & ensuring human rights are necessary to accelerate the transformation of our economies.”
This was followed by a statement from Alicia Williner, Senior Research Assistant from ILPES-ECLAC, who expressed how “Biodiversity must not only be considered from an environmental perspective. Like gender or territorial cohesion, it must permeate as a public policy approach that can make a difference & generate transformative change.”
In the last dialogue, Hesiquio Benitez, CBD-SBSTTA President, made a profound reflection about the advancement of the biodiversity narrative, highlighting how“Through these dialogues, we are discussing topics beyond protected areas or the number or endangered species, which used to be the classic focus for decades. We are shifting towards new dimensions that are related to inclusion or new actors, decision-making and territorial & development planning.”
As a conclusion, Thierry Dudermel, Biodiversity Team Leader of the European Commission DG INTPA, reconfirmed the importance of organizing these dialogues: “ECLAC & the Post 2020 EU Support Project are taking important steps to help identify opportunities to address the risks to regional & national economic stability related to the climate & biodiversity crises.”
These virtual dialogues were organized in working groups moderated by renowned experts. They addressed topics related to the sustainability in development planning and agriculture and providedpathways for the implementation of multiple KMGBF targets such as Target 14 (Biodiversity mainstreaming) and Target 10 (Productive sectors) but also Target 15 (Business), Target 18 (Subsidies) and Target 22 (Participation) and Target 23 (Gender).
They aimed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences among key stakeholders, fostering collaboration and the search for joint solutions.
Integrating diverse perspectives and knowledge is essential to drive transformative change towards sustainable development that strengthens the social, economic, and environmental dimensions in the region and formulates strategies that promote cross-cutting changes.