The second day of the first part of the UN Biodiversity Conference was devoted to the high-level segment of the meeting. During the day, world leaders emphasized that a window of opportunity exists to address the existential environmental crisis the world is facing, but urgent action is needed as time is not on humanity’s side. Discussions focused on maintaining and strengthening the political momentum necessary for the development of an ambitious and effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).
The high-level segment focused on the theme of “Ecological Civilization – Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth” and featured in-depth discussions among national ministers, other high-level party representatives, and international and regional organizations and non-party stakeholder groups to reinforce the ambition for the GBF.
The day’s deliberations included:
- A Leader’s Summit, with leaders from the host country, parties, and the UN Secretary-General providing opening remarks on the importance of conserving and sustainably using biodiversity, and addressing the current crisis;
- An opening plenary for the high-level segment, featuring three panel discussions; and
- The first parallel ministerial session with two roundtable discussions.
During the Leader’s Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged for: using the concept of ecological civilization as a guide to stay within environmental limits; enabling the necessary green transition; and using international law as the basis for equitable international environmental governance. Interventions were also made by COP 15 President Huang Runqiu and Han Zheng, Vice Premier of the State Council, China.
Invited Party leaders who intervened in the Leader’s Summit included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, French President Emmanuel Macron, Costa Rican President Carlos Andrés Alvarado Quesada, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Nurgozhoevich Japarov, Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape, and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, UK. The intervention of UN Secretary-General António Gutteres concluded this part of the deliberations.
The opening plenary featured remarks by COP 15 President Runqiu, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen, and CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, who underscored that the GBF offers a historic chance to shift to a sustainable path, halting and reversing biodiversity loss.
Following introductory remarks by Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), COP 15 President Runqiu moderated three panel discussions, focusing on:
- What ecological civilization means for food, health, jobs, trade, and education;
- Aligning finance and building capacity to achieve ecological civilization; and
- Promoting synergistic action for biodiversity, climate, land, and oceans.
The ministerial segment featured two roundtable discussions, held in parallel, attracting ministers from around the world.
Roundtable A on ‘Putting Biodiversity on a Path to Recovery’ had a wide range of ministers expressing their national and international commitments, expectations, and ambitions. Many ministers showed support for the global 30-by-30 target, aiming to conserve 30% of Earth’s land and sea areas by 2030, and committed to align their national biodiversity strategies and action plans to the GBF. Participants also highlighted focal areas of their national conservation efforts; synergies with their initiatives to address other environmental challenges including climate change and pollution; and their efforts to address direct and underlying drivers of biodiversity loss. The session was co-chaired by Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, and Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment, Egypt.
Roundtable B, under the theme ‘Closing the Financing Gap and Ensuring Means of Implementation,’ featured ministers and experts discussing ways to fully mobilize necessary resources from all possible sources for biodiversity conservation. Participants discussed the need to consider nature as humanity’s most precious asset, providing invaluable, life-supporting ecosystem services; revise our measures of economic success, accounting for the use of natural capital; and transform institutional structures, including education and finance systems. They further showcased relevant initiatives at the national and regional levels; highlighted the need for additional support to the most vulnerable, developing countries; and discussed innovative finance mechanisms to bridge the finance gap and enable effective implementation of the GBF. The session was co-chaired by Guo Lanfeng, Deputy Secretary General, National Development and Reform Commission, China, and Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition, France.
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