OEWG4 – Last mile for negotiations still ahead to ensure a transformative GBF for COP15

From 20-26 June in Nairobi 2022, the CBD hosted the 4th Open Ended Working Group (OEWG4) on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

1000 negotiators from 195 States plus the EU gathered in Nairobi to advance negotiations on the GBF’s text. Final adoption is now expected for December in Montreal, Canada at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15).

Dialogues, Governance, Kenya, Multilateral Agreements, Resource Mobilization, Subnational & Local Governments, Transformative change.


Biodiversity is a human concern. Maintaining a healthy planet means looking after Nature while safeguarding the wellbeing of present and coming generations. We are now reaching a critical stage to advancing progress on the post2020 Global Biodiversity Framework negotiations.

We know that finding common ground is not easy, but our planet and our human health are under serious threat due to biodiversity loss.” warned Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP, at the opening of WG2020-4 plenary.

At the opening press conference, CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth M. Mrema reaffirmed once again Together the Parties and stakeholders can demonstrate once again the power of international cooperation and multilateralism. Our differences do matter but our common humanity more.” 

A key announcement during the meeting was done by the WG2020 Co-Chairs regarding CBD COP15, which will held December 5-17, 2022 in Montreal, Canada, under the presidency of the Chinese Government.

Some real progress made in Nairobi

At this 4th session of the OEWG, expectations were high for delegates to finalize the objectives and targets of the final transformative GBF draft to be adopted at COP15.

The 6 days sessions In Nairobi covered the framework text, including its 4 goals, 23 proposed targets, and other elements. Delegates were able to achieve:

– Progress on Section C on the relationship to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;

– A consensus paragraphs on target 12 on green and blue spaces for urban areas;

– A consensus on target 19.2 on non-financial elements of resource mobilization; and

– Progress on benefit-sharing from Digital Sequencing Information (DSI) on genetic resources;

– A new target 22 to ensure Women’s representation in policy-making, implementation and decision making.

Despite the achievements, additions and deletions to the text; the text failed to achieve as much as was expected: 21 targets are still in square brackets.

For transformative actions: resource mobilization as a leverage point

During the GEF (Global Environment Facility) council, just prior to the OEWG4, twenty-nine donor governments announced a $5, 33 billion pledge to the GEF for the next four years, a record funding to support initiatives that prioritize the health of people & our planet. “We have an opportunity to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.” Said Carlos Manuel Rodrigues, GEF’s CEO.

But observers noted that more needs still to be done to implement a transformative GBF.  “We are not being strategic enough in ensuring that there is enough resource mobilization to implement this framework. We need a very strategic, actions-oriented and ambitious resource mobilization and capacity building, especially for developing countries.“ warns Fred Onay, Internal Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist – the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda.

The analysis of the Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability also suggests that to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, an average of USD 711 billion will be needed each year during the next ten years.

It is critical for the GBF to ensure resource mobilization while supporting public policy to lead investments in nature-based solutions, in order to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. There is still a need to provide additional resources to developing countries for the development of biodiversity plans and fundings for national policy reform, in addition to biodiversity projects on the ground.

It is essential to support governments in developing commitments and policies which promote environmentally sustainable pathways for nature and people. Our project helps 10 countries in delivering and implementing key biodiversity commitments before and after COP15.Hugo Rivera Mendoza, Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support.

Civil society calls for political leadership to speed-up negotiations

If progress was made, as far as clean text, little was accomplished. And concerned by the level of brackets in the text and the recognizing the slowness of this negotiations, NGOs, civil society and businesses warned about the lack of consensus noted in Nairobi.

“WE want now the number of governments and leaders who signed the nature-positive pledge to speak-up and pay attention to the negotiations for the next few months and deliver in Montreal what is needed.” says Marco Lambertini, Director – WWF International.

The day after the end of the conference, environmental groups including Avaaz, Greenpeace and Campaign for Nature, also published an open letter to call on the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres and Governments to introduce urgent political leadership into the GBF negotiations before COP15 in Montreal.

“While there was greater recognition on the role of business, overall the negotiation progress was disappointing.” also stated Maelle Pellisson, Advocacy Director at Business for Nature. “What we need now is strong leadership and engagement at the highest political level – including Heads of State ahead of and during COP15 if we’re to get on the right track and deliver a strong outcome that truly recognizes and appreciates our relationship with nature.”

Negotiators agreed a way forward that includes engagement of all regions to ensure regional balance. To move faster, smaller groups of countries may be tasked to work on some elements. And informal papers may be sent to ministers.

There is a significant amount of work in front of us, a lot more than what we thought.” admitted OEWG co-chair Basile van Havre.

And there is now no other option than organizing a fifth OEWG session just before COP15.

“I call upon the parties, in the next months, to vigorously engage with the text, to listen to each other and seek consensus” concluded Elizabeth Maruma Mrema

This is now the agreed way forward before COP15 to ensure that brackets are lifted and a strong and clean text to be presented to Ministers at COP15 in Montreal. The final stop for the GBF’s adoption by the highest political level.

For Transformative Actions. For Nature and People.

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