Summary report, 21–26 June 2022

4th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

The expiration of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, and its 20 Aichi Targets has created a vacuum in nature conservation. The world, struggling to contain the impacts of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, has also contended with a global health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientific evidence has shown that tackling the loss of biodiversity provides crosscutting benefits for a wide range of environmental and human health issues. 

The Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (WG2020) was established by the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP14) in 2018 to deliberate on a new set of global goals and targets to guide parties towards a nature-positive future. The WG2020 was mandated to hold three meetings in the most participatory manner possible to produce a framework dubbed, the global biodiversity framework (GBF).

After the three mandated meetings of the working group amid COVID-19 delays, delegates agreed on the necessity for a fourth meeting to finalize the goals and targets of a highly evolved GBF draft and release a final draft for adoption at the CBD COP15. After six days and nights, delegates achieved varying levels of progress in six contact groups on the GBF and on digital sequence information (DSI). Delegates managed to achieve:

  • unanimous agreement on Section C on the relationship with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  • consensus paragraphs on Target 12 on green and blue spaces for urban areas;
  • consensus on Target 19.2 on non-financial elements of resource mobilization; and
  • charting a new pathway for an agreement on sharing of benefits from DSI on genetic resources.

During the meeting, the WG2020 Co-Chairs announced that the CBD COP15 would be held from 5-17 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada, under the presidency of the Government of China. With these new dates in place, parties supported convening a fifth session of the WG2020, which would be accompanied by other intersessional work. 

The WG2020 convened in hybrid format from 21-26 June 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, and attracted 1,300 participants from 156 countries, with 675 joining in person and representatives from 253 organizations, with 260 in person and 540 online.

A Brief History of the Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted on 22 May 1992 and opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”). The CBD entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 196 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

The COP is the governing body of the Convention, and there are currently four bodies meeting intersessionally: the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA); the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI); the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions; and the WG2020.

Three protocols have been adopted under the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (January 2000) addresses the safe transfer, handling, and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. It entered into force on 11 September 2003 and currently has 173 parties. The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (October 2010) provides for international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from LMOs. It entered into force on 5 March 2018 and currently has 49 parties.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (October 2010) sets out an international framework for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and technologies, and by appropriate funding, thereby contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and currently has 136 parties.

Key Turning Points in Strategic Planning

2010 Target: In April 2002 at COP 6 in The Hague, the Netherlands, parties adopted a Strategic Plan 2002-2010 (decision VI/26) to guide further implementation at the national, regional, and global levels. The stated purpose of the plan was to effectively halt the loss of biodiversity so as to secure the continuity of its beneficial uses through the conservation and sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Parties also committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth. This target was subsequently endorsed by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the UN General Assembly, and was incorporated as a target under the Millennium Development Goals.

Aichi Biodiversity Targets: At the tenth meeting of the COP in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010 parties adopted the CBD’s second Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (decision X/2). Under the theme “Living in Harmony with Nature,” the purpose of the Strategic Plan is to promote effective implementation of the Convention through a strategic approach, comprising a shared vision, a mission, and strategic goals and targets, that will inspire broad-based action by all parties and stakeholders. The Plan contains the “2050 Vision for Biodiversity”: By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet, and delivering benefits essential for all people. The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Targets expired in 2020.

COP 14: At COP 14 in November 2018, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, parties adopted decision 14/34, which set forth a comprehensive and participatory process to update the Convention’s strategic plan, and established an open-ended working group to develop the GBF to be adopted at COP15. Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada) were appointed as Co-Chairs of the Working Group.

First meeting of the WG2020: At the first meeting (27-30 August 2019, Nairobi, Kenya), parties deliberated on the structure of the GBF and agreed that the Co-Chairs and the CBD Bureau would develop a zero draft on the GBF to be submitted at least six weeks before the second meeting of the WG2020. The WG also agreed to request SBSTTA to provide guidance on specific goals, targets, indicators, baselines, and monitoring frameworks related to the drivers of biodiversity loss for achieving transformative change, within the scope of the three CBD objectives.

Second meeting of the WG2020: The second meeting (24-29 February 2020, Rome, Italy), commented on the zero draft of the GBF that was released in January 2020. Parties approved the final recommendation of the meeting compiled by the Co-Chairs, and adopted the meeting’s report. In the recommendation, the WG2020, among others, invited SBSTTA to provide a scientific and technical review of updated goals and targets, and related indicators and baselines, and requested the Co-Chairs and the Secretariat to prepare a first draft of the GBF.

Third meeting of the WG2020-3 Part I: This meeting convened virtually from 23 August - 3 September 2021 to negotiate the first draft of the GBF, and considered the outcomes of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on ways to resolve divergent views on benefit-sharing from the use of DSI on genetic resources.

Geneva Biodiversity Conference (14-29 March 2022, Geneva, Switzerland) included Parts II of SBSTTA-24, SBI-3 Part II, and WG2020-3 Part II. WG2020-3 agreed on a solution on the way forward on DSI, including related intersessional work, and provided significant input on both the GBF targets and goals, and on relevant indicators, with the development of the framework becoming a party-led process. Delegates also agreed to convene a fourth meeting of the WG2020.

Post-2020 Working Group Report

Co-Chair Basile van Havre (Canada) opened the meeting on Tuesday, 21 June, reminding delegates of the need for empathy and compassion as the world continues to face worsening impacts from COVID-19. Delegates observed a moment of silence for the passing of Johan Hedlund, who held the position of CBD Associate Information Officer.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, highlighted global progress achieved in agreements on marine plastics, nature-based solutions, and chemical waste management. The spotlight, she added, is now on the GBF to lay out solutions to tackle the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

In a video statement, COP15 President Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, drew attention to the Kunming Biodiversity Fund amounting to USD 233 million to support conservation of flora and fauna. Quoting the African Proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,” he urged international cooperation and multilateralism to launch a new chapter of global biodiversity conservation.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary, reported the highest participation of all working group meetings, signaling this as commitment to a transparent and participatory GBF process. She announced the Bureau’s decision to hold Part II of CBD COP15 in Montreal, Canada, in December 2022.

CANADA, host of Part II of COP15, stressed the urgent need to address biodiversity loss worldwide and underscored its commitment to work with all stakeholders to ensure a successful outcome.

CHINA, as the COP15 Presidency, noted that the decision to hold Part II of COP15 in Montreal was not an easy one, especially for China and Canada, and expressed commitment to work in a concerted manner for a balanced and ambitious GBF.

Working Group Co-Chair van Havre underscored progress at the second part of WG2020-3 and called for an ambitious and realistic GBF, equipped with the necessary means of implementation and mechanisms to measure progress, emphasizing that this fourth meeting is “our last collective chance to prepare the draft GBF.”

Working Group Co-Chair Francis Ogwal (Uganda) stressed the importance of compromises to reach consensus towards a concise and communicable GBF that does not sacrifice ambition. He called for simple language understood by all, balanced efforts across all targets, and further work on DSI, building on the solid foundations set in the Geneva meeting.

Regional Group and Major Stakeholder Group Statements: Senegal, for the AFRICAN GROUP, highlighted the need for a coherent and inclusive global framework to reverse the biodiversity crisis for the whole of humanity. He lamented lack of attention to land and ecosystem degradation and its impacts on African communities’ livelihoods, urging for further work to build more resilient ecosystems. He stressed that “Africa has one voice,” highlighting commitment for a successful GBF that will need to include DSI, and ensure appropriate accessible funding in line with CBD Article 20 (financial resources).

Kuwait, for the ASIA-PACIFIC, noted the importance of this fourth meeting of the Working Group, and stressed that the GBF should rely on science and the theory of transformation, and be science- and evidence-based. She called for aligning efforts and collaborating to “overcome the imminent danger of ecosystem degradation,” and deliver a “slim, practical GBF, aligned with national and regional legislation and policies.”

France, for the EUROPEAN UNION, stressed the need to consolidate the GBF’s structure and reduce the number of options under goals and targets. She underscored the importance to be clear on the interdependencies between climate change and biodiversity loss, reduce our ecological footprint and respect ecological limits, and focus on transformative actions. She emphasized, inter alia, the importance of local communities as biodiversity stewards and the need to continue working on identifying solutions acceptable by all on DSI. She further condemned the unjustified war in Ukraine.

Antigua and Barbuda for the LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN GROUP (GRULAC), called for recognition of the role of women, girls, and youth, reiterating support for a standalone target referring to women and girls. She further urged advancing discussions on DSI, in particular its placement in the GBF and on the elements of the draft decision to be forwarded to COP15.

New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of AUSTRALIA, CANADA, ICELAND, ISRAEL, JAPAN, MONACO, NORWAY, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, SWITZERLAND, the UK, and the US (JUSSCANNZ GROUP), emphasized the need for a fundamental shift in in the Working Group’s approach from presenting positions to negotiating mode, and urged for flexibility and open-mindedness to constructive solutions. He expressed concern over rising casualties, environmental damage, and transboundary harm caused by the war in Ukraine.

Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of members of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature (HAC), said a solution for fair and equitable benefit-sharing on DSI should reflect the criteria agreed at the WG2020-3 Part II. She noted that an enhanced implementation mechanism should ensure that national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) are updated and aligned with the GBF, using standardized templates, and should put in place a process to assess collective progress towards achieving the GBF through timely global stocktakes.

COLOMBIA, speaking for CHILE, COSTA RICA, MEXICO, and PERU, supporting the HAC’s vision of conserving at least 30% of land and marine areas by 2030 (30-by-30), said nature-based solutions, as adopted during the second part of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2), should be included in the framework’s language, in order to strengthen the links with climate change and desertification.

Nigeria, speaking for the BLUE LEADERS, urged ambition to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030 through protected areas that eliminate environmentally damaging activities while permitting only light extractive uses, such as local community fishing.

Germany, for the G7 PRESIDENCY, reported that ministers at recent G7 meetings have committed to mobilizing resources from all sources, including public finance, to substantially increase national and international funding for nature by 2025, including increased funding for nature-based solutions. She reported, among others, the group’s call to multilateral development banks and development finance institutions to increase and mobilize their finance for nature and further leverage private capital.

UKRAINE, speaking virtually, reported loss of natural heritage and impacts on over 900 protected areas due to military attacks by Russia, and called for continued joint efforts to restore security. In response, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION objected, noting that previous armed conflicts in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan did not attract interventions at CBD meetings.

The INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS FORUM ON BIODIVERSITY (IIFB) called for explicit references to, inter alia, customary land tenure, customary sustainable use, free prior and informed consent (FPIC), fair and equitable benefit-sharing, and the full participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs).

The CBD WOMEN’S CAUCUS called for a gender-specific target to guide all implementation and ensure the full realization of the GBF, stressing the important role of women as biodiversity custodians, which is often neglected.

The GLOBAL YOUTH BIODIVERSITY NETWORK (GYBN) called for intergenerational equity, rights-based approaches, and meaningful engagements, ensuring the right to a clean and healthy environment for the youth and future generations.

The CBD ALLIANCE urged addressing all drivers of biodiversity loss, highlighting industrial agriculture, removing perverse incentives, aligning financial flows, and performing horizon scanning and technological assessment for emerging technologies.

BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL, on behalf of a group of NGOs, stressed the need to: agree on a nature-positive mission; take into account the pivotal role of IPLCs and rights-based approach on biodiversity conservation; develop more specific, ambitious, and actionable targets; and unlock politically difficult issues such as resource mobilization.

SUBNATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS welcomed the GBF section on principles and approaches (section B.bis), noting it is an early indication that the GBF will be a framework for the whole of government and society, following a participatory and inclusive approach. He stressed that GBF implementation will require participation of “all at all levels, including local and subnational governments.”

BUSINESS FOR NATURE urged for action, stressing that “we cannot wait for 10 years because we don’t have all the necessary information, data, baselines, and definitions.” He emphasized that while hundreds of companies take voluntary action, this is not enough, calling for mandatory disclosure requirements on business dependencies, risks, and impacts for a level-playing field that recognizes and values environmental performance.

FINANCE FOR BIODIVERSITY underscored the importance of aligning public and private funding, and moving further from voluntary actions, including specific references in the GBF goals in that respect.

The BIODIVERSITY LIAISON GROUP emphasized that cooperation and synergies have the potential to enhance effective implementation of the GBF, stressing that the mandates of respective biodiversity-related conventions should be integrated in the framework to recognize their distinct role in implementation. She noted that, despite progress, there is still room for promoting synergies, especially at the national level.

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), offered highlights from GEF’s eighth replenishment (GEF-8). He noted record funding of USD 5.33 billion pledged by 29 countries for the next four years, stressing that donors prioritized biodiversity with a minimum of USD 3.1 billion earmarked to support implementation of the CBD over the next four years. He noted that USD 43 million is devoted to early action on the GBF and added that GEF-8 includes a programme on supporting countries to mobilize resources for biodiversity by creating relevant financial mechanisms at the national level.

Organization of work: Co-Chair Ogwal noted that Leina Al-Awadhi (Kuwait) will continue in her role as rapporteur. He introduced the provisional agenda (CBD/WG2020/4/1), the annotated provisional agenda (CBD/WG2020/4/1/Add.1), and the scenario note, including the proposed organization of work (CBD/WG2020/4/1/Add.2). Delegates approved the agenda and organization of work.

Report from Subsidiary Bodies: SBI Chair Charlotta Sörqvist (Sweden), provided an overview of the report SBI-3 contained in CBD/SBI/3/21 and focused on intersessional work since SBI-3. She highlighted 19 recommendations to the CBD COP and to the COP/MOPs of the Protocols, noting that some of them are relevant for the work ahead during this week. She added that intersessional work was mandated in Geneva on: resource mobilization; the annexes on monitoring, review, and reporting mechanisms; capacity building, and technical and scientific cooperation; and mainstreaming.

On resource mobilization, Sörqvist reported informal consultations facilitated by the relevant contact group’s co-leads, which enhanced mutual understanding and explored opportunities for convergence. She noted that a background note, including a summary of the discussion, and key findings and conclusions has been produced, expressing hope that the constructive atmosphere will continue during this week’s negotiations. On monitoring, review, and reporting mechanisms, she focused on a workshop to discuss the annexes of SBI document CBD/SBI/3/11 on options to enhance planning, reporting and review mechanisms. She noted that the workshop’s report is available for WG2020-4, highlighting important progress, but also outstanding work. She concluded noting that intersessional work on capacity building, technical and scientific cooperation, and mainstreaming will take place in the coming months.

SBSTTA Chair Hesiquio Benítez Díaz, via video, drew attention to 10 SBSTTA recommendations to be considered at COP15 Part II. He emphasized that intersessional work was agreed on the proposed monitoring framework, and on marine and coastal biodiversity.

On the monitoring framework, he highlighted the convening of an expert workshop to be held in Bonn from 29 June-1 July 2022 to contribute to a scientific and technical review of the proposed indicators of the GBF monitoring framework, focusing on a comprehensive analysis of high-level indicators and their feasibility. Regarding marine and coastal biodiversity, Benítez underscored the convening of an online discussion forum from 8-15 June 2022, preceded by an opening webinar and followed by a closing one. He added that an online discussion on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas is scheduled for late July 2022.

Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Discussions on the GBF took place through five contact groups held from Tuesday, 21 June, to Saturday, 25 June based on text negotiated during the WG2020-3, contained in document CBD/WG2020/3/7. A Contact Group on DSI, which is addressed under a separate agenda item related to the framework, also convened through the week.

Stocktaking Plenary: On Friday, delegates gathered in plenary to take stock of progress on GBF and DSI negotiations in the contact groups, and to carry out a first reading of the draft decision for COP15. Contact group co-leads discussed progress of negotiations noting the need for more time and consensus to complete the draft GBF.

Co-Chairs van Havre and Ogwal presented an overview of the overall progress using color-coded tables and graphs representing pending, no progress, some progress, and completion of negotiations by no color, red, yellow, and green, respectively. They addressed:

  • Sections A-E on background, purpose, guidance for implementation, relationship with the SDGs; theory of change; and mission;
  • Goals A-D noting that significant work remains to be done;
  • Targets 1-22 and an additional suggested target on health, stressing that they are at different stages of development and, despite progress, significant work remains for many of them, including on quantitative elements and numerical aspects of the targets; and
  • Sections H-K on implementation support mechanisms, enabling conditions, responsibility and transparency, and outreach, awareness, and uptake, noting significant progress, including clean text on outreach, awareness, and uptake.

Commenting on progress overall, Co-Chair Ogwal thanked delegates and participants for their efforts and noted that much work remains to be done. He offered general conclusions, including: the need to consider proposals to increase the number of targets in the GBF; at the current pace, it will not be possible to have appropriate text ready for COP15; and the entire GBF text will have to be reviewed for consistency, coherence, and ease of communication. He emphasized that small informal groups have been useful to make progress, concluding that the Co-Chairs in collaboration with the Bureau will identify options for reviewing the whole of the GBF, following WG2020-4.

NEW ZEALAND, speaking also on behalf of AUSTRALIA, CANADA, ICELAND, ISRAEL, JAPAN, MONACO, NORWAY, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, SWITZERLAND, the UK, and the US, emphasized the Bureau will need to realistically plan for pending work, reflecting on the most critical items for discussion so all delegations share expectations on how to best use time during COP15.

MOROCCO lamented that, despite the best efforts of the contact groups’ co-leads, text under many targets has significantly increased, running the risk to transfer the burden of work to COP15.

NAMIBIA expressed concern for the slow pace of progress, suggesting an editorial exercise on the draft GBF, preserving parties’ positions that were added as bracketed text in the form of a bulleted list.

Zhou Guomei, Deputy Secretary General, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), on behalf of the COP15 Presidency, highlighted the high expectations for the meeting, noting that despite progress, more need to be done before the meeting ends. She called for a concise, aspirational, and communicable document to forward to COP15, which will enable resolving any critical outstanding issues in Montreal and reaching a final agreement.

Lactitia Tshitwamulomoni (South Africa), Co-Lead of Contact Group 5 on DSI, reported on the group’s deliberations. She noted that the group exchanged views on points of convergence arising from the work of the Informal Advisory Group. She added that, following willingness by many parties to work further on the draft COP decision, a friends of the co-leads group was established to initiate text-based negotiations. She added that the group was able to clean three out of six preambular paragraphs during its first meeting, pointing to further work during the second meeting of the friends of the co-leads group, which will be forwarded to the next session of Contact Group 5.

Contact Group 1 on GBF goals: This contact group, co-led by Vinod Mathur (India) and Norbert Baerlocher (Switzerland), met on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Goal A (protecting biodiversity at all levels and preventing extinctions): On Wednesday, the group focused on Goal A, which addresses the three levels of biodiversity: ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity, based on text derived from the virtual session, WG2020-3 Part I.

Deliberations on this goal considered the following text: The [[socio]-ecological [resilience]] integrity [, area] and connectivity of [all][both natural [and managed] terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine] ecosystems is [maintained or] enhanced [with no further loss of highly intact or threatened ecosystems], [preventing collapse of] all ecosystems is maintained or enhanced, increasing[, ensuring] [increasing the area,] connectivity [and integrity of these ecosystems] [and increasing] [by at least [5] per cent by 2030 [improve resilience in the most vulnerable ecosystems] and [15][20] per cent by 20501] [the area and[, the ecological integrity] of a full range of natural ecosystems] [the protection of threatened or restoration of depleted ecosystems.]

Parties agreed to remove reference to the words “socio-ecological” and not specify types of ecosystems. Some argued that the text should not specify the conservation status, whether threatened or vulnerable, while others opposed. Some called for retaining the terms “resilience” and “integrity.”

Co-Lead Baerlocher suggested compromise text: “The integrity, connectivity, and resilience of all natural and managed ecosystems,” for the beginning of the goal. Divergent opinions existed on whether ecosystems should be maintained, enhanced, or both.

Further debate took place on numerical values, with divergence on whether the increase in area, connectivity, and resilience of natural ecosystems by 2050 should be by 15% or 20%. Some delegates reiterated their preference for no numerical values, saying that these should be handled under specific targets. Others noted that if numerical values remain in the target, they should be based on existing baselines, as mentioned in the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration, “taking into account a natural state baseline.”

On Friday, the contact group considered new text referring to halting human-driven extinction of all species and reducing extinction risk. Parties differed on human-driven extinction with some saying this may provide an alibi for lack of mitigation action to prevent species loss. Some parties urged reference to population abundance and others to population distribution. During Sunday’s review of the relevant conference room paper (CRP), parties agreed to remove the brackets and to retain reference to human-driven extinction.

Delegates agreed to defer a decision on numerical values to COP15. One party requested including reference to domesticated species in a reference to increasing species abundance. Some parties said increasing abundance of domesticated species is beyond the scope of the Convention, adding that their population abundance at present exceeds that of native species.

On the genetic component of this goal, the contact group agreed to work on the target’s syntax following agreement on its main elements: “the genetic diversity and adaptive potential of wild and domesticated species is safeguarded and all genetic distinct populations are maintained by 2030, at least [95] per cent of genetic diversity among and within populations of wild and domesticated species is maintained by 2050.”

Some parties supported referring to “native species” being maintained in support of eradication of invasive alien species. Several said numerical values should be based on feasibility for implementation, and be included only if scientific evidence and baseline levels exist.

During Sunday’s report back and outcome review plenary, Co-Lead Mathur reported that the goal has adequate coverage of the three components of biodiversity and incorporated appropriate 2030 milestones. He highlighted inclusion of elements of importance to parties, such as, restoration, resilience, integrity, connectivity, and extinction risk. Outstanding elements noted include numerical values, rates of extinction, and the need for more conclusive negotiation on the elements on genetic diversity.

Goal B (ensuring that biodiversity can meet people’s needs and support their human rights): The contact group discussed this goal on Friday. Some parties emphasized the need to avoid controversial terminology such as ecological footprints and ecological boundaries in order to encourage consensus. Those against expressed flexibility so long as these terms are adequately defined in the glossary. Many suggested emphasis on sustainable use, and some parties supported inclusion of the concepts of the human right to a safe, clean, and healthy environment.

During Sunday’s report back and outcome review, Co-Lead Mathur reported substantial divergences on critical aspects including ecosystem health, biodiversity values, and the right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. He noted that the goal has incorporated appropriate 2030 milestones.

Goal C (benefits from the use of biodiversity and genetic resources are shared with equity, and the traditional knowledge and IPLC rights are respected): Discussions on this goal took place on Thursday based on the co-leads’ suggestion to deliberate on alternative text Goal C Alt.3: “[The monetary and non-monetary benefits from the utilization of genetic resources [in any form] are shared fairly and equitably and substantially increased [thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity].]”

Divergences arose on whether to refer to genetic resources “in any form.”

Delegates supported inclusion of the text, “associated traditional knowledge associated with IPLCs is appropriately protected.” Others supported adding new elements including traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, biological resources, and DSI. Many developing country delegates opposed suggestions to delete “monetary and non-monetary benefits.”

During Sunday’s report back and outcome review, Co-Lead Mathur reported on the status of the goal, noting inclusion of several elements for further negotiations including: monetary and non-monetary benefits, associated traditional knowledge, and sharing of benefits with IPLCs. He noted that the goal, as it stands, does not include milestones for 2030.

Goal D (adequate level of the means of implementation are enabled): On Thursday, the contact group deliberated on this goal, based on an alternative text referred to as Goal D Alt.3, which the co-leads opined is the most concise and contains many elements of the four alternatives and original text: “Adequate [means of implementation and] resources [numerical values to be added] to fully implement the GBF are secured [from all sources] and are accessible to all Parties [in accordance with Article 20 of the Convention] [with public and private financial flows aligned with the 2050 Vision][and in ways consistent with nature-positive, carbon neutral, and pollution-free development pathways].”

One party provided a shorter version of this text for consideration and parties agreed to, “Adequate means of implementation to fully implement the GBF are secured and employed by all parties with public and private financial flows aligned with the 2050 Vision.”

Several developed country parties preferred this version that has no reference to CBD Article 20. Developing countries objected saying the article is an important aspect as it outlines the responsibilities and obligations of parties. Other parties provided text with explicit mention to the transfer of appropriate and environmentally sound technology.

Co-lead Baerlocher urged dealing with the term “means of implementation” in the glossary, noting it is clearly defined and includes scientific cooperation and technological transfer. Some parties agreed to this suggestion. Due to continued divergence on missing elements, it was agreed that the text would be finalized at COP15.

Contact Group Outcomes: During Sunday’s report back and outcome review plenary, the co-leads presented the outcome document (CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.1). Co-Lead Mathur noted significant advancement on elements of the goal resulting in compromise on the need to clearly define means of implementation in the glossary. Numerical values of the goal and the incorporation of the 2030 milestones are yet to be completed. The CRP was approved.

Contact Group 2 on targets on reducing threats to biodiversity: This contact group, co-led by Teona Karchava (Georgia) and Rosemary Paterson (New Zealand), met on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Wednesday, the co-leads explained that two targets under consideration by the contact group would be negotiated based on text from the first session of the WG2020-3, due to inadequate time for their consideration at the Geneva Biodiversity Conference.

During the Friday stocktake plenary Co-Lead Karchava reported progress and the need for adequate time for negotiations.

Targets 1-3 on spatial planning, ecosystem restoration, and protecting 30% of land and sea areas: On Wednesday, Co-Chair Paterson reported that Targets 1-3 would be deliberated by an informal friends of the co-leads group due to recommendations from the WG2020-3 in Geneva to agree on definitions of area-based issues and ecosystems. On Thursday, the informal group reported back to the contact group that it was not able to reach consensus, but proposed certain areas of possible convergence, including using the definition of ecosystems based on Article 2 of the Convention, which refers to terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems; and rights of IPLCs including reference to their lands, territories and resources, FPIC, and human rights. These areas will form the basis for further negotiations before COP15.

Target 1 on spatial planning: On Thursday, discussions focused on the first part of the target on ensuring that ecosystems are under integrated biodiversity spatial planning. Delegates discussed whether to refer to ecosystems; “all” ecosystems; terrestrial, inland water, freshwater, marine, and coastal ecosystems; or land and sea areas, without reaching agreement.

Further contentious elements included whether to: incorporate a quantitative dimension noting that a certain percentage of ecosystems should be under spatial planning; and refer to integrated equitable biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning and/or effective management processes. Parties agreed to include in the target the need to take into account the use and customary rights of IPLCs.

On Saturday, the contact group discussed elements suggested by the informal friends of the co-leads group, which included equitable participation, land and sea use change, minimizing loss of ecosystems, ecological integrity, connectivity, and rights of IPLCs. Diverse views on the types of ecosystems to be considered emerged including suggestions for references to intact or threatened ecosystems, or areas of high biodiversity value.

Target 2 on ecosystem restoration: On Saturday, delegates considered suggestions by the co-leads in an effort to reach consensus. They debated on whether to incorporate a wide range of ecosystems, including freshwater, marine, and terrestrial or to refer to “all ecosystems.” Many favored listing the different ecosystem types, and some supported the term “inland waters,” which includes both freshwater and saline terrestrial systems. On the purpose of the target, most delegates proposed a combination of two options provided: to improve ecosystem connectivity and integrity, and to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

On options on areas of particular importance for biodiversity, most parties preferred focusing on priority ecosystems, and others combining priority areas and areas of importance for biodiversity. Some parties also expressed the need to consider degraded ecosystems, prioritizing those threatened.

Target 3 on protecting at least 30% of land and sea areas: On Saturday, delegates considered this target based on submissions and recommendations from the informal friends of the co-leads group. The resulting text remains unchanged, and essential elements addressed by parties have been parked in a temporary placeholder: [[all land and of [seas] [ocean] areas [globally] [at the national level] [including] all ecosystems] [all terrestrial, inland waters, coastal and marine ecosystems] [ecosystems as defined by Article 2 of the Convention] [terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems], [including] [over their lands, territories and resources] [, with their free, prior and informed consent] [, [and [including] acting] in accordance with [UNDRIP and international human rights law] [national [circumstances and] legislation [and] [as well as] relevant international instruments] [, where applicable]].

During Sunday’s review of the outcomes, COSTA RICA requested removal of reference to globally.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION noted that the placeholders relate to discussions considered in Section B.bis on principles and approaches and suggested including “subject to B.bis and other relevant targets.”

IIFB lamented that all concerns regarding rights of IPLCs over their territories remain unresolved and urged parties to appropriately support the group’s concerns.

Target 4 on actions for species management: This target was discussed on Saturday. The contact group agreed on possible elements for further consideration in the following text: [Extinctions of known threatened species prevented, the average population abundance of depleted species increased by X per cent and the risk of human-driven species extinctions reduced by X per cent, safeguarding genetic diversity.]

During Sunday’s review of the outcomes, the EU noted that the elements for further consideration should specify that elements from milestones are yet to be considered.

Target 5 on harvesting, trade and use of wild species and Target 6 on invasive alien species were not considered at the WG2020-4. Parties agreed that these should be further deliberated either at a future session or at COP15.

Target 7 on reducing pollution: This target was among those not discussed during the Geneva Biodiversity Conference. On Wednesday, the group discussed this target in four sections.

The first section aimed to “Reduce pollution from all sources to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and human health.”

One group of parties called for including light and noise-related pollution, noting the need also to consider cumulative and interactive effects of pollution. Some objected, pointing to developing countries’ lack of capacity to determine the effects of light and noise on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Others also noted that cumulative effects are implied and do not require specific mention.

Parties also debated on whether to include specific references to human health alongside ecosystem health with proponents of the One Health Approach reiterating the interconnectivity.

Many parties called for simpler formulation and for the use of footnotes and the glossary for elements such as risk and types of pollution, among others.

The amended text at the end of discussions reads: “Reduce [emissions and deposits of] pollution from all sources [and pollution risks] to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity or ecosystem functions, [and human health], [considering cumulative effect.]”

On the second part of the text, “including by (significantly) reducing nutrients lost by the environment (by at least half),” parties differed on the inclusion of a numerical reference. Those against said national circumstances and capacities should be considered.

On the third part, “and chemicals, in particular pesticides, harmful to biodiversity (by at least two thirds),” some parties urged reference to “hazardous chemicals.” Many called for text that considers food security and livelihoods arising from the use of chemicals in agriculture. Others noted the need to include elements on chemical loss in the environment and excess nutrients. On reducing pesticide use by at least two thirds, some suggested specifying that this can be achieved by “identifying and phasing out the most harmful pesticides.” One group preferred halving relevant pesticide use rather than reducing by two thirds.

On the fourth part, “and eliminating discharge of plastic waste,” many proposed using language agreed at UNEA 5.2, “ending plastic pollution.”

During Sunday’s review of the outcomes, the EU asked for a footnote reflecting that light and noise pollution are to be included in the glossary, which will be formally appended to the GBF. Some objected, noting that relevant discussions had been inconclusive, and the footnote was bracketed.

TOGO said that if light and noise were being included, a footnote on mercury and heavy metals should be considered. Parties agreed to include this in the text for further deliberations.

SWITZERLAND highlighted agreement on including water quality, which would be addressed further under headline indicators. He drew attention to the Expert Workshop on the GBF Monitoring Framework to be held on 29 June – 1 July 2022 in Bonn, Germany.

Target 8 on minimizing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity: This target was also not considered during the Geneva Biodiversity Conference. On Thursday, Co-Lead Paterson initiated discussions on the target, which aims to minimize the impact of climate change on biodiversity, contribute to mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, and ensure that all mitigation and adaptation efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity. The text contained bracketed references to nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches.

On minimizing the climate change impacts on biodiversity, parties requested adding references to ocean acidification and enhancing/strengthening ecosystem resilience. They further suggested that activities should follow a rights-based approach and be based on equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. A party suggested an alternative formulation, enhancing the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystems to climate change. All suggestions remained bracketed.

A lengthy discussion took place on the part of the target referring to contributing to mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, including through nature-based solutions and/or ecosystem-based approaches. Other than the preexisting disagreement on terminology around nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches, delegates offered several suggestions, including references to:

  • addressing loss and damage;
  • contributing to disaster risk reduction;
  • strengthening ecosystem resilience;
  • protecting the rights of IPLCs;
  • enhancing mitigation co-benefits, including by conserving and restoring high-carbon ecosystems; and
  • contributing by 2030 at least 10Gt CO2 per year to global mitigation efforts.

All these suggestions remained bracketed as agreement could not be reached.

Regarding ensuring that adaptation and mitigation efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, a party suggested minimizing rather than avoiding negative impacts. Delegates agreed to also refer to fostering positive relevant impacts on biodiversity and delivering positive outcomes for nature overall.

Parties offered alternative formulations of this part of the target. One suggested avoiding negative impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Another proposed minimizing the impact of climate change and increasing resilience of biodiversity through mitigation and adaptation actions, and connection through nature-based solutions and other ecosystem-based approaches. The proposals remained bracketed.

Contact Group Outcomes: On Sunday Co-Lead Karchava presented the outcomes of the contact group contained in CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.6 and Add.1, noting that several parties highlighted the importance of ensuring quality indicators for key biodiversity areas or biodiversity-rich areas. Parties approved the CRP.

Contact Group 3 on meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing: This Contact Group, co-led by Gillian Guthrie (Jamaica) and Co-Lead Gabriele Obermayr (Austria), met on Wednesday and Friday.

Target 9 (management and sustainable use of wild species): On Wednesday, Co-Lead Obermayr introduced the target, noting that during WG2020-3 the co-leads produced a proposal as a basis for further discussion. Target 9 seeks to ensure the management and use of wild species are sustainable, providing social, economic, and environmental benefits for all people, especially those in vulnerable situations.

Regarding a suggestion tabled at WG2020-3 to include reference to “increasing the contribution of sustainable bioeconomy including through the use of wild species,” the proponent suggested replacing the reference with “promoting and supporting the development of sustainable biodiversity-based products and related services, especially from micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, rural communities, and IPLCs. Many parties supported the proposal, which remained bracketed. Delegates further discussed whether to refer to the “provision” of benefits or to their “maintenance and enhancement.”

On Friday, delegates addressed major contentious points including references to: promoting the development of sustainable biodiversity-based products; the sustainable management of landscapes and seascapes; and the provision of social, economic, and environmental benefits for “all” people. Delegates further debated: whether the sustainable management and use of wild species should be consistent with relevant national laws and in harmony with international commitments; and whether the livelihoods and customary sustainable use by IPLCs should be ensured, protected, promoted, or safeguarded.

On Sunday, reporting back to plenary, Co-Lead Obermayr noted that, following the contact group’s deliberation, some brackets were removed, but additional text was added following parties’ submissions. Additional work will be needed to finalize the target.

Target 10 (ensuring the sustainable management of areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry): On Friday, delegates discussed some contentious points, including whether to refer to: “all” areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry; other productive uses; and “efficiency and productivity” of these systems, in addition to resilience.

Delegates requested adding references to:

  • productive systems for food and agriculture;
  • productive activities and extraction;
  • agrobiodiversity;
  • agroecological principles and relevant biodiversity-friendly practices;
  • protection of pollinators, local seed systems, and soil biodiversity;
  • the places most important for providing nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem services; and
  • sector-specific action plans for sustainable use based on agroecology, ecosystem approaches, and environmental principles in close cooperation with custodians of biodiversity.

A regional group suggested ensuring at least 25% of agricultural land is managed under agroecological principles and relevant biodiversity-friendly practices. A party proposed “substantially increasing sustainable intensification through innovation, including by scaling up beneficial applications for agricultural productivity and stimulating the development of climate-resistant crops, eliminating and phasing out trade distortive agricultural subsidies, and supporting the establishment of seed banks in developing countries.” All the new suggestions remained bracketed.

During the report back on Sunday, Co-Lead Obermayr explained that, following the last meeting of the contact group on Friday, a small informal group met on Saturday to identify areas of convergence and divergence. The informal group was able to identify elements for further discussion, including approaches such as agroecology. The informal group agreed to refer to “long-term resource efficiency and productivity,” and requested further input from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Obermayr noted that, due to lack of time, the results of the informal group’s discussion could not be brought to the contact group for further consideration and suggested intersessional work on the target.

Target 11 on regulating services provided by ecosystems and nature: Discussions on this target took place on Friday. Delegates disagreed on references to: nature’s contributions to people; soil health; payments for environmental services; and nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches.

On Sunday, reporting back to plenary, Co-Lead Obermayr noted that the discussion had been constructive with only five brackets remaining in the text. BOLIVIA requested reference to rights-based approaches and Mother Earth-centric actions.

Target 12 on green and blue spaces in urban and densely populated areas, improving human health and wellbeing: Delegates were able to reach agreement on this target during their deliberations on Friday. The target seeks to “significantly increase the area and quality and connectivity of, access to, and benefits from green and blue spaces in urban and densely populated areas sustainably, by mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and ensure biodiversity-inclusive urban planning, enhancing native biodiversity, ecological connectivity and integrity, and improving human health and well-being and connection to nature and contributing to inclusive and sustainable urbanization and the provision of ecosystem functions and services.”

Target 13 on ensuring access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits: On Wednesday Co-Lead Guthrie introduced the target, noting that, as developed so far, it contains three elements captured in four paragraphs as one of them has two different formulations. She noted that it is up to parties to decide whether eventually the GBF will contain one, two, or three different targets on access and benefit-sharing (ABS). A regional group, supported by some parties, noted that two targets are needed to address ABS comprehensively, one on ABS elements, and the other on sharing of benefits and the relevant mechanism.

Co-Lead Guthrie suggested starting work on a suggested paragraph on substantially increasing the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources in any form, and as relevant, of associated traditional knowledge, ensuring that resources from benefit-sharing reach, by 2030, an amount equal to at least X% of the total amount of international public biodiversity finance for developing countries.

Delegates discussed, without reaching consensus, whether to refer to “substantially increasing” or “facilitating” the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. Other contentious points included whether to: refer to genetic resources “in any form”; include reference to derivatives; add a reference to increasing capacity building and development, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer towards developing countries; refer to horizon scanning in relation to emerging technologies and to mutually agreed terms regarding cooperation and capacity development; and include a quantitative element as a target for benefit-sharing.

On the latter, some parties argued that the target should focus on effective implementation and should not try and venture into elements that, from a government perspective, can neither be established nor regulated. Others emphasized that it is crucial to have a quantitative element to encourage parties to put in place an enabling environment to operationalize effective benefit-sharing. Yet others underscored that success should not be measured solely by an increase in benefit-sharing, pointing towards other important parameters, including the need to respect traditional knowledge.

Co-Lead Guthrie introduced, and delegates discussed, a suggestion made by a regional group during WG2020-3 to establish, by 2023, a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism that is fully operational by 2030. The proponent introduced the idea, requesting its consideration as an element under Target 13.

Parties held divergent positions on the proposal. Some noted the suggestion and timelines are unclear, and the implications difficult to assess, emphasizing that discussions under other fora, including the Nagoya Protocol, are needed as well as a conclusive agreement for benefit-sharing arising from the use of DSI on genetic resources. Others emphasized that the suggestion offers an innovative funding mechanism that is crucial for the successful implementation of the GBF, noting that the timelines are realistic. Yet others supported the establishment of a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism but suggested further discussion on the timeframe for its establishment.

Co-Lead Guthrie resumed consideration of the main part of the target, asking delegates to focus on the original formulation, as included in the draft GBF. She explained that it calls for the adoption and implementation of measures to facilitate access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arise from their utilization.

Delegates discussed whether to refer to the adoption of effective legal, policy, administrative, and capacity-building measures or simply to their implementation. They agreed to refer to measures “at all levels,” rather than refer to “the global, regional, subregional, national, and local levels,” with some parties suggesting adding “as appropriate.” Many delegates suggested these measures should “facilitate access” or “facilitate appropriate access” to genetic resources, while others proposed facilitating “appropriate environmentally sound uses/access.”

Disagreements arose on whether access should refer to genetic resources or should also include biological resources and derivatives. Regarding traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, a lengthy discussion took place, without reaching consensus, on whether to refer to FPIC, approval and involvement, or use the tripartite definition (prior and informed consent (PIC), FPIC, or approval and involvement).

On ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits, contentious points included whether to refer to DSI or genetic resources in any form; and whether benefit-sharing should be in accordance with “internationally agreed ABS instruments” or with “the obligations under the Nagoya Protocol, the CBD, and other relevant ABS multilateral agreements and instruments.” On the latter, parties expressed preference to proceed with reference to internationally agreed ABS instruments, with one delegate suggesting adding reference to “enabling their mutual implementation.” Some suggested deleting that part of the target, noting that the scope of all internationally agreed ABS instruments is not known. Further disagreements arose on language encouraging all parties to ratify the Nagoya Protocol and relevant international agreements.

Co-Lead Guthrie noted that additional in-depth discussions are needed to address contentious issues. She formed a friends of the co-leads group, facilitated by Betty Kauna Schroder (Namibia) and Salima Kempenaer (Belgium), to further discuss the target. The group met on Thursday evening.

On Friday, the friends of the co-leads group reported back to the contact group noting that, following discussions on three alternatives, they were able to develop a single formulation of the target containing all essential elements. Remaining contentious points include:

  • whether the appropriate legal, policy, administrative, and capacity-building measures to ensure/facilitate the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources should be “in accordance with international ABS instruments” or “consistent with and not running counter to the objectives of the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol;
  • whether benefit-sharing should be “substantially” increased;
  • references to benefit-sharing arising from the utilization of biological resources, DSI, derivatives and genetic resources “in any form”;
  • language on environmentally sound uses regarding access to genetic resources;
  • references to capacity building and development, and technical and scientific cooperation;
  • language on appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, respect for all rights involved, and appropriate funding; and
  • reference to the generation of new and additional resources for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

A suggestion to establish, by 2023, a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism that is fully operational by 2025 or 2030 also remains bracketed.

Contact Group Outcome: On Sunday, reporting back in plenary, Co-Lead Obermayr noted that a considerable amount of work remains to reach consensus. She provided an overview of the group’s deliberations (CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.2). The CRP was approved.

Contact Group 4 on targets on tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming: Contact Group 4, co-led by Anne Teller (EU) and Jorge Murillo (Colombia), met from Wednesday to Saturday.

Target 14 on integrating biodiversity in policies: This target was discussed on Friday. During Sunday’s report back and outcome review, Co-Lead Murillo noted that the text is stable enough to allow reaching consensus at COP15. The EU suggested qualifying reference to deep-sea mining “with safeguards,” reserving the right to further amend the text during subsequent stages of the negotiation.

Target 15 on practices of business and financial institutions: This target was discussed on Friday. On Sunday, Co-Lead Murillo stressed that the text is stable enough to allow reaching consensus at COP15. AUSTRALIA requested appropriately capturing the discussion on indicators that took place during the meeting and transmit it to the upcoming expert workshop on indicators, taking place in Bonn, Germany, from 29 June - 1 July 2022.

Target 16 on sustainable consumption: On Saturday, parties agreed that sustainable consumption choices should be encouraged, still discussing whether they should refer to “all consumers” or more generally to “people.” They further agreed on the importance of establishing supportive policy, legislative, or regulatory frameworks. Disagreements still existed on whether to include reference to national circumstances, and social, economic, cultural, and historical contexts. Further discussion will also be needed on language on halving global per capita food waste and substantially reducing waste generation, and, where relevant, eliminating overconsumption of natural resources and other materials for all peoples to live well in harmony with Mother Earth.

On Sunday, reporting back to plenary, Co-Lead Murillo noted that, despite disagreements, the text of the target is strong and adequately clear to allow parties to find common ground at COP15.

Target 17 on biosafety: On Saturday, parties raised contentious points on this target including whether to refer to potential adverse impacts of biotechnology in general or of LMOs resulting from biotechnology. Further disagreements arose regarding references to synthetic biology and other new genetic techniques, and their components and products. Delegates could not reach consensus on references to the precautionary approach, environmental risk assessments as well as to horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessment. Language on the potential benefits of applications of modern biotechnology towards achieving the objectives of the Convention also generated disagreement, with some parties opining that the target should focus on adverse impacts.

A party suggested establishing, strengthening capacities for, and implementing measures in all countries to regulate, manage, or control potential adverse impacts on biodiversity and human health resulting from biotechnology applications, but attracted limited support.

On Sunday, Co-Lead Murillo noted in plenary that discussions on Target 17 proved challenging, resulting in retention of most of the bracketed text that came from the Geneva meeting. He stressed that a considerable amount of work will be required to reach consensus.

Target 18 on decreasing negative and increasing positive incentives for biodiversity conservation: On Thursday, Co-Lead Murillo initiated discussions on Target 18 noting that, despite consensus on the need for such a target, points of divergence exist, including regarding references to nature-positive activities and other international obligations such as those under the World Trade Organization (WTO). He remarked that delegates had in front of them three options: the co-leads’ proposal from the second part of WG2020-3, an alternative formulation that received considerable attention during the second part of WG2020-3, and a simplified formulation put forth by some parties. Following discussions, delegates agreed to delete the simplified formulation and the co-leads’ initial proposal, continuing work on the basis of the remaining alternative formulation.

Co-Lead Murillo said that the target contains three different elements that require separate discussions: tackling harmful subsidies/incentives and the need to eliminate, phase out, or reform them; redirecting or repurposing harmful incentives towards nature-positive activities; and addressing positive incentives.

Delegates initiated discussion on addressing positive incentives, with Co-Lead Murillo identifying two potential avenues: ensuring that all incentives, including payments for environmental services are either positive or neutral for biodiversity; or ensuring that positive incentives, including payments for environmental services are scaled up.

Many parties expressed preference for the second option, noting that scaling up positive incentives denotes the necessary level of ambition. Following lengthy discussion, they reached consensus to remove reference to payments for environmental services, agreeing that the issue would be addressed under Target 19 on financial resources.

A party opined that scaling up resources should be addressed under Target 19, pointing to WTO obligations on incentives and subsidies. A compromise solution included a caveat that measures should be “consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations.” One party suggested combining the two alternatives by “ensuring that all incentives are either positive or neutral for biodiversity and positive incentives are scaled up.” Discussions will continue.

On subsidies/incentives harmful for biodiversity, delegates agreed to identify them by 2025, with discussions ongoing on whether to eliminate, reform, or phase them out. Delegates also agreed to deleting reference to consistency with WTO rules following the agreement on the caveat regarding positive incentives. Remaining contentious points include references to reducing such harmful incentives by at least USD 500 billion per year as well as singling out fisheries and agricultural subsidies.

Further discussions will be needed, either intersessionally or at COP15, to reach agreement.

Target 19.1 on financial resources: The contact group initiated discussion on Target 19 on Thursday. The target is split in two parts: one addressing financial resources and the other non-financial ones. On Target 19.1 on financial resources, Co-Lead Teller noted that there were three alternative formulations on the table, urging parties to agree on one of them as a basis for further negotiations. The first alternative was built around the co-leads’ proposal from the second part of WG2020-3. The other two had been proposed by two parties, focusing respectively on: developed country parties’ obligations under CBD Article 20, stating that they should provide USD X billion in new and additional financial resources to developing country parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs of GBF implementation; and increasing financial resources for biodiversity from all sources, including domestic, international, public, and private sources, aligning them with the GBF.

A party, on behalf of a group of parties, stated the alternatives reveal two distinct levels of responsibility: one on the fact that all parties need to mobilize resources and the other on specific developed country parties’ responsibilities arising from Article 20. In that respect, he suggested splitting the target in two parts. Following a lengthy discussion, the new suggestion was tabled with two distinct elements: substantially increasing financial resources from all sources for implementation of the Convention and the GBF; and provision of new and additional financial resources of at least USD 100 billion annually until 2030 by developed country parties—an amount to be revised for the 2030-2050 period—to effectively implement the Convention through the GBF in line with Article 20, further envisioning the establishment of a global biodiversity fund that is fully operational by 2025.

Delegates addressed the main text of the target as proposed by the co-leads. Following lengthy discussions, parties were able to partially clean the heavy bracketed text, and added reference to payments for environmental services, as agreed under Target 18.

Agreement could not be reached on deleting the alternative suggestions on the target and a friends of the co-leads group, co-facilitated by Jane Stratford (UK) and Rita Zaghloul (Costa Rica), was formed to continue negotiations. The group’s mandate was to examine the alternative proposals and come back with a single one as the basis for further discussion, focusing on not losing any of the main elements and taking into account the different sub-elements that the target contains.

On Saturday, a lengthy and often tense discussion took place on the formulation developed by the friends of the co-leads group. Parties exchanged arguments on the level of required financial resources for effective GBF implementation as well as regarding reference to CBD Article 20 and related commitments, especially for developed countries. The suggestion for the creation of a global biodiversity fund also created disagreements, with those in favor stressing the need for such a fund and those against urging for using existing mechanisms for resource mobilization.

Another reading of the target ensued with delegates adding suggestions that remained bracketed. Co-Lead Murillo lamented that a lot of work remains to reach consensus, adding that at least all options are now on the table, allowing a comprehensive negotiation at COP15.

During Sunday’s report back, Co-Chair Murillo emphasized that, despite a shared commitment for the approval of an ambitious resource mobilization target, several contentious issues remain. He expressed hope that including all parties’ concerns in the document will hopefully facilitate further discussion at COP15.

BOLIVIA requested adding a definition in the glossary on Mother Earth-centric actions. IRAN noted that no party should be affected by political and economic restrictions for accessing biodiversity-related international resources.

Target 19.2 on capacity building: Parties discussed Target 19.2 on Thursday. The target focuses on non-financial resources for GBF implementation, including strengthening capacity building and development as well as access to and transfer of technology, and promoting development and access to innovation. Following discussions, delegates were able to remove the remaining brackets, forwarding clean text to COP15.

The target aims to “strengthen capacity-building and development, access to and transfer of technology, and promote development of and access to innovation and technical and scientific cooperation, including through South-South, North-South and triangular cooperation, to meet the needs for effective implementation, particularly in developing countries, fostering joint technology development and joint scientific research programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and strengthening scientific research and monitoring capacities, commensurate with the ambition of the goals and targets of the framework.”

Target 20 on ensuring that quality information and knowledge are available and accessible to decision makers: On Wednesday, delegates discussed this target, which seeks to ensure that quality information and knowledge, including the traditional knowledge, practices, and innovations of IPLCs, are available to guide decision making for effective governance, management, and monitoring of biodiversity.

The main points of discussion included whether to:

  • refer to “quality” or “best available” information and knowledge, and whether to include data;
  • refer to “technologies” of IPLCs;
  • note that this information and traditional knowledge should “contribute to” or “underpin” decision making or should be “available and accessible to decisions makers, practitioners, and the public to guide decision making”;
  • refer to “equitable” biodiversity governance in addition to “effective”; and
  • include reference to “integrated and participatory” biodiversity governance.

Parties agreed to use the tripartite definition of PIC, FPIC, or approval and involvement in relation to traditional knowledge and IPLCs practices and innovations.

Further discussions will be needed at COP15 to finalize the target.

Target 21 on ensuring the full participation in biodiversity-related decision making by IPLCs, respecting their rights over lands, territories, and resources: On Wednesday, Co-Lead Teller invited parties to discuss Target 21, including whether a separate target on women and girls should be envisaged or the gender dimension should be incorporated under other targets.

Delegates agreed to refer to ensuring the full, equitable, inclusive, effective, and gender-responsive representation and participation of IPLCs to biodiversity-related decision making. They agreed on reference to IPLCs’ access to information and debated reference to access to justice. They further agreed to language on respecting their cultures and rights over lands, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge, with some suggesting also “recognizing” such rights.

Following a suggestion by a regional group, a lengthy discussion ensued, without reaching consensus, on whether to include reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and international human rights law or to relevant national legislation and international instruments. Delegates debated a suggestion to ensure the protection of environmental human rights defenders and their access to justice. They further discussed deleting language on “enhancing the engagement of all relevant stakeholders,” with many noting that the target is about IPLCs.

While a few parties suggested combining the target on gender with this target, many supported two distinct targets. Two distinct targets were retained. Further work will be needed to finalize the target at COP15.

Target 22 on ensuring women and girls have equitable access and benefit from the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity: On Wednesday, delegates discussed the new proposed target. They debated whether, in addition to women and girls, to include references to persons of diverse gender identities, youth, young people in all their diversity, and persons with disabilities. Some suggested ensuring women and girls’ effective “representation” at all levels of policy making, implementation, and decision making, in addition to their “participation.” Others proposed adding language on mainstreaming gender across all biodiversity objectives and goals.

An alternative formulation of the target was proposed, focusing on enabling the gender-responsive implementation of the GBF by ensuring women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the three objectives of the Convention as well as their full, equitable, and meaningful participation and leadership at all levels of biodiversity-related action, policy making, engagement, and decision making. Some suggested adding reference to the recognition of equal rights and access to land and natural resources of women and girls.

On Sunday, in plenary, the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO noted that, following discussions, he is fully convinced of the necessity of such a standalone target, requesting removing the brackets around the target as a whole. Brackets remained in specific elements of Target 22 and further discussions will be needed.

New Targets: On Wednesday, the Contact Group further discussed a new suggested target on determining cross-sectoral and sector-specific goals for sustainable use by 2030, and put in place effective legal and policy measures to achieve them based on ecosystem approaches, environmental principles, and cooperation with biodiversity users.

On Sunday, during the discussions in plenary, NORWAY withdrew their proposal on a new target 14 bis on the understanding that the elements will be reflected under other relevant targets. Since this reflection is still work in progress, he noted that they would like to retain the suggestion for the time being, which will be reflected in the meeting’s report.

During Sunday’s outcome review, the UK reiterated the need to have a standalone Target 23 on health, calling for the implementation of a biodiversity-inclusive One Health approach, focusing especially on the risks of the emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases to avoid or reduce risks to the health of humans, wild and domesticated species, and ecosystems.

Noting that the One Health approach is not mature enough to be included in the GBF and contains no reference to benefit-sharing, NAMIBIA offered an alternative formulation of the suggested Target 23 calling for fair and equitable benefit-sharing for potentially pandemic pathogens, including improved access to zoonosis response tools, to be realized by adoption of a specialized international instrument by the World Health Assembly before 2025 and its recognition by the CBD at COP17.

Contact Group Outcome: On Sunday, Co-Lead Murillo reported on the group’s deliberations (CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.5 and Add.1), and the CRP was approved.

Contact Group 5 on digital sequence information: This contact group, co-led by Lactitia Tshitwamulomoni (South Africa) and Gaute Voigt-Hansen (Norway), met on Wednesday and Saturday. A friends of the co-leads group, co-facilitated by William Lockhart (UK) and Martha Mphatso Kalemba (Malawi), met from Wednesday to Saturday. 

On Wednesday, Co-Lead Voigt-Hansen provided an overview of the work during WG2020-3 and intersessional work by the Informal Advisory Group (IAG). He drew attention to document CBD/WG2020/4/3, which contains key points from the Co-Leads’ report on the work of the IAG. He invited delegates to start discussions by focusing on two paragraphs reflecting points of convergence that had already arose and were reinforced during the work of the IAG as well as new points that may lead to further convergence.

Regional groups and parties offered general remarks on the points of convergence. A regional group noted the need to: include reference to DSI under Target 13 on ABS as well as Goal C on benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources; evaluate hybrid options for benefit-sharing using the multi-criteria analysis matrix; and include references to resource mobilization, capacity building, and technology transfer to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries.

Another regional group reiterated that a solution on benefit-sharing from DSI on genetic resources is crucial and constitutes a red line in negotiations, adding that adoption of the GBF can be postponed until COP16 if that is what it takes to reach agreement on benefit-sharing from DSI. The group reiterated the proposal for a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism drawing 1% of the retail price of all commercial income resulting from the utilization of genetic resources, not only DSI. Other parties noted that open access does not mean free and unrestricted access, and the need to prioritize countries of origins and mega-biodiverse countries in benefit-sharing.

A third regional group underscored that a lot of work still needs to be done prior to taking any decisions, pointing to the work of the independent expert on the analysis of policy options, and calling for a realistic roadmap between now and COP15. Other parties reiterated that a careful step-by-step approach is needed without prejudging the outcome of the process.

Delegates further exchanged opinions on references to DSI-related tracking and tracing, legal feasibility, open access to data, synthetic biology, broad participation, national policies that already regulate DSI, and interlinkages between multilateral and hybrid options.

The Secretariat provided an update on the work of the independent expert on the assessment of policy options. She noted that the consultant is working on the assessment and will soon be in contact with parties and stakeholders in that respect. She added that the assessment results will be presented to the IAG and will be available to parties and stakeholders well in advance of COP15.

Co-Lead Voigt-Hansen suggested discussing intersessional work and drew delegates’ attention to the draft recommendation to COP15, as annexed in document CBD/WG2020/REC/3/2. Following discussions, he established a party-only friends of the co-leads group to initiate textual negotiations on the draft recommendation, with a view to agree on as many points as possible and comprehensively lay down all differing positions. He adjourned the meeting of the contact group and the friends of the co-leads group initiated discussions on Wednesday night.

On Saturday, the contact group continued its deliberations addressing a non-paper containing elements of a relevant draft decision and discussing next steps prior to COP15.

Delegates made minor amendments to the non-paper produced by the friends of the co-leads group and approved it for submission to plenary. The non-paper includes a draft recommendation that COP15 adopt a decision drawing on elements annexed to the document. The elements of the draft decision have not been agreed and largely remained bracketed. However, they comprehensively contain all concerns by parties, paving the way for further negotiation and a potential agreement on the way forward at COP15. A CRP was produced for further consideration.

On the way forward, parties discussed future work of the IAG, including consideration of the independent consultant’s work on the assessment of policy options that has been commissioned by the Secretariat. The outcome of the consultant’s work will be available for consideration by the IAG in September 2022.

Parties asked about: potential opportunities for further informal consultations; whether the consultant’s report will be made available to parties; and the consultant’s terms of reference (ToR). Delegates further suggested areas that should be further analyzed, including on hybrid options, definition and scope, legal feasibility, and other related mechanisms, such as under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).

Contact Group Outcomes: On Sunday, Co-Lead Voigt-Hansen introduced document CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.4 and provided an overview of the group’s deliberation.

He noted that the contact group had established a friends of the co-leads group during WG2020-3, which continued its work during the current meeting. The friends of the co-leads group produced a non-paper, including a brief recommendation from the Working Group to COP15 and elements for the decision annexed to the document. Co-Lead Voigt-Hansen noted that the IAG will continue its work intersessionally before COP15 to address among others: multilateral and hybrid approaches for policy options for benefit-sharing arising out of DSI on genetic resources, legal feasibility, mutual supportiveness of principles, and the ITPGRFA system.

ARGENTINA, supported by COLOMBIA and COSTA RICA, suggested adding possible approaches for hybrid solutions for benefit-sharing arising out of the use of DSI on genetic resources as included in paragraphs 40(a) and (b) of document CBD/WG2020/3/INF.8 from the WG2020-3 to allow for further consideration of such options. Following discussion, the suggestion was added in the document’s appendix, which already includes a proposal for the establishment of a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism.

IRAN noted that ethical and moral concerns should be taken into account on DSI in accordance with the GBF.

ΝΑΜΙΒIΑ noted that the IAG should explicitly address how the multilateral system for benefit-sharing would work, noting that the group had already addressed hybrid options.

The CRP was approved. Following a request by Co-Chair Ogwal, delegates also adopted the document as an L document in the interest of time and with the understanding that no additional changes will be made other than the amendments tabled during the closing plenary. Delegates adopted CBD/WG2020/4/L.3.

Following the document’s adoption, JAPAN stated the discussion on DSI is complex and controversial, with implications on open access, which is important both for research and for benefit-sharing. He urged ensuring inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability in the process, emphasizing the importance of participation of multiple stakeholders and the need to share relevant information on the independent assessment of the consultant, including the ToR of his engagement.

Contact Group 6 on GBF Sections A-E (background, purpose, relationship with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, theory of change, and 2050 Vision and 2030 Mission, and other sections) and H-K (implementation and support mechanism; enabling conditions; responsibility and transparency; and communication, education, awareness and uptake), and B.bis (principles and approaches): This contact group, co-led by Marie-May Muzungaile (Seychelles) and Carolina Caceres (Canada), met on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and twice on Saturday. On Tuesday, Co-Lead Muzungaile, updating on the status of discussions, reported that due to time constraints, this group did not meet during WG2020-3 Part II. 

On Sunday during the review of outcomes, Co-Lead Caceres reported that several repetitions have been flagged by the group and require further work and negotiation.

Section A (Background): On Saturday, the contact group deliberated on this section. Some parties called for language specifying that the collapse of ecosystem services, such as pollination, will affect the least developed and small island developing states. Many differed, calling for reference to “all countries.” A party suggested adding reference to the Vision 2050 of living in harmony with nature and to Mother Earth.

Some asked for mention of achievements and lessons learned from the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

One party suggested a more concise text, “Biodiversity is deteriorating at an unprecedented rate. Biodiversity loss, climate change, desertification, and ocean degradation are interrelated and mutually reinforcing, so these environmental crises need to be addressed in an integrated and urgent manner.” Some asked that degradation of mountain ecosystems be added. Many opined that the new text is not comprehensive, and the text was bracketed.

Section B (Purpose): On Saturday, parties expressed diverging opinions regarding reference to common but differentiated responsibilities, with those against saying it is not consistent with the language of the Convention. On party suggested reference to provisions of the Convention regarding responsibilities of parties.

On the aim to provide a global, outcome-oriented framework, one party suggested “result-oriented,” without reaching consensus. Some parties suggested, and many objected to, adding that that GBF is not legally binding. On a paragraph noting “the Framework seeks to promote synergies between the Convention and other processes,” some parties called for including promotion of coherence and complementarities, with others noting the need for respecting other conventions’ mandates.

Section B.bis (Principles and Approaches): This section was first discussed on Wednesday and deliberations continued throughout the week. Parties expressed divergent views, causing a stalemate as a group of parties called for recognizing their strong objection to its content due to significant overlaps with sections J (responsibilities and transparency), H (implementation and support mechanisms), and others. The section, they lamented, also complicates the GBF by including text and language not previously agreed in the Convention, such as the One Health approach.

A small group of interested parties held an informal discussion on the way forward. The small group suggested, and parties agreed, that elements imported from other sections would be retained in their respective sections. It was also agreed that Section B.bis would receive due attention during intersessional work to ensure it retains its intended scope on crosscutting approaches. They further suggested a new Section B.ter or Section L, which would deal with tools for implementation such as nature-based solutions.

During the Sunday report back and review of outcomes, some countries lamented the need for more conclusive negotiations of this section.

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION asked for a footnote specifying that informal discussions achieved compromise on a solution and that a mandate for further work on B.bis and Section I to the GBF Co-Chairs would be provided.

Section C (Relationship with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development): On Saturday, delegates accepted this section unanimously with no changes. The section reads, “The framework is a contribution to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the same time, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the achievement of sustainable development in all its three dimensions (environmental, social and economic) is necessary to create the conditions necessary to fulfill the goals and targets of the framework.”

Section D (Theory of Change): On Saturday, delegates carried out substantive discussion on this section and considered the proposed graphic representation of the Theory of Change provided by South Africa. Some delegates questioned the value and placement of this section.

Section E (2050 Vision and 2030 Mission): On Saturday, delegates discussed diverse options of the mission of the framework from 2030 to 2050 and came up with five text options:

  • [By 2030] halt and reverse biodiversity loss to achieve a nature positive world [for the benefit of planet and people].
  • Halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and put nature on a path to recovery for the benefit of all people and the planet.
  • Act now to conserve, restore, sustainably use, and fund, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and put nature on the path to recovery for the benefit of planet and people.
  • To take urgent action across society to [halt and] reverse biodiversity loss to put biodiversity on a path to recovery, [[towards a nature positive world][enhance the integrity of the ecosystems]] and to conserve, sustainably use, and to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources for the benefit of [planet][Mother Earth] and people while providing the necessary means of implementation.
  • To take urgent action across society to halt and reverse biodiversity loss [to achieve a nature positive world] in a fair and equitable way for the benefit of present and future generations and all life on earth.

Section H (Implementation support mechanisms): During the discussions on Tuesday, one group suggested more comprehensive text reflecting resource mobilization from all sources, redirecting and eliminating subsidies harmful to biodiversity, and enhancing financial flows. They also called for referencing mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services across sectors and policies, specifically agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, finance, tourism, health, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, and mining. Some parties preferred retaining short concise text and objected to the list of sectors.

One group proposed text for capacity development, technical and scientific cooperation, knowledge management, and technological transfer, inviting parties to address means of implementation through, among others, development of national capacity-building and development plans, which should be integrated into NBSAPs; and integrating needs for financial resources for these plans.

The need to match the GBF ambition with equally ambitious financial mechanisms was reiterated, highlighting the need for adequate, predictable, and accessible financing. Several called for a dedicated global biodiversity fund, noting that failure to meet the Aichi Targets indicates the inadequacy of the resource mobilization strategy. Others said implementation should be supported by all biodiversity-related agreements through enhanced cooperation with the CBD.

One party suggested reference to gender-responsive implementation and another to a whole-of-society approach. Yet another called for strengthening language on cosmocentric approaches of IPLCs in relation to respect for Mother Earth. Observers, supported by parties, suggested adding references to: thematic work on traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use of IPLCs, including institutional mechanisms for continuing the work programme on Article 8(j) and related provisions; South-South, North-South and triangular cooperation, technology transfer, and promotion and access to innovation; and a work programme on species conservation to achieve species-related goals and targets.

Section I (enabling conditions): On Tuesday Co-Lead Caceres suggested, and delegates agreed, to take up this section when discussing section B.bis on principles and approaches as there are overlapping elements, including the rights-based approach.

Section J (Responsibility and transparency): Discussions on Tuesday included suggestions to recognize contributions of non-state actors, including women and youth. Parties also called for inclusion of collective actions and contributions of IPLCs, and community-based monitoring systems. The group established a friends of the co-leads group to advance progress in this section.

Parties stressed, among others, that the section should list the key elements of an enhanced mechanism for planning, monitoring, reporting, and review, which should include:

  • revised or updated NBSAPs following GBF adoption in a standardized format;
  • national reports communicating national efforts towards the GBF on a regular basis;
  • aggregation of national targets;
  • periodic stocktakes to assess progress towards GBF goals and targets; and
  • revised NBSAPs following the stocktake.

They further discussed voluntary, facilitative, non-punitive, party-led peer review processes, voluntary contributions from non-state actors, and collaboration among parties to build implementation-related capacities. Some parties called for further clarity on the use of indicators for planning and review mechanisms. One party, opposed by another, suggested referring to “transparency and accountability” rather than “responsibility and transparency.” Some delegates emphasized the vital role of non-state actors for furthering public visibility, effectiveness, and ambition. A party noted the need to encourage non-state actors to use the agreed templates to report on progress under the monitoring framework. Some delegates emphasized the need for support to developing countries in order to develop the required transparency mechanisms in accordance with the Convention.

Section K (Outreach, awareness and uptake): Discussions on Tuesday convened on alternative text developed during the second part of WG2020-3 in Geneva. Delegates appreciated the inclusion of elements on education. Some delegates called for including Indigenous and local knowledge, and to refer to multiple values. Delegates proposed ensuring synergies with the communication strategy from SBI-3, noting continued divergences in the use of the term “behavioral change.”

On Wednesday, the group continued discussions based on a co-leads’ non-paper, which includes both the Co-Chairs’ proposals for this section and delegates’ submissions from earlier sessions. Parties’ interventions emphasized, among others, the importance of rights-based approaches, rights of IPLCs, and ensuring the full participation of non-state actors, including women and youth.

Contact Group Outcomes: On Sunday, Co-Lead Caceres presented the outcome document CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.7, and parties approved it.

Draft elements of a possible decision operationalizing the GBF: On Friday the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/WG2020/3/3/Add.3) and Co-Chair van Havre opened the floor for initial comments on the draft decision.

The EU, supported by CAMEROON, PALAU, UGANDA, COLOMBIA, and others, said that the draft decision will be a central item during COP15 negotiations, but its main elements depend on further progress in GBF negotiations, stressing that it is premature to start the discussion at this stage.

BRAZIL outlined elements that need to be considered in the draft decision, including: recognizing that the GBF will be implemented along the Rio Declaration Principles, particularly Principle 7 on common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), with ARGENTINA; addressing interlinkages between the GBF and means of implementation; recalling CBD Article 20, particularly Article 20.4 and the commitments of developed countries regarding the provision of financial resources and technology transfer towards developing countries, with ARGENTINA; respecting obligations under existing international agreements; and establishing a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism and a global biodiversity fund.

ARGENTINA underscored the need to highlight that the GBF is a tool for implementation of the CBD and reaffirm that poverty alleviation and development are priorities for developing countries. He stressed that adoption of the GBF should be accompanied by agreement on resource mobilization.

CANADA emphasized that the GBF as the Convention’s strategic plan for the next decade “shows our priorities and drives our work going forward,” calling for identifying key priorities towards which “we should focus our efforts and align our work.”

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION expressed concerns about the unreadiness of certain delegations to reach compromises as well as regarding the GBF text under certain goals and targets becoming increasingly lengthier. He highlighted the importance of the draft decision under discussion for GBF implementation, emphasizing that “we must not forget” that the GBF is going to be implemented under the CBD.

AUSTRALIA called for including references to human rights obligations and persons of diverse gender identities in decisions on implementation.

COLOMBIA noted that the monitoring framework and the glossary are yet to be discussed and stressed the importance of a work programme focused on the fundamental elements of the GBF to guide COP15 towards adoption.

The UK remarked that the paragraph referring to none of the Aichi Targets having been achieved should be amended to take note that commitments made at COP11 in Hyderabad on biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries has been met and maintained since 2016.

NEW ZEALAND stressed that specific reference to the need to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples should be included in the GBF.

BOLIVIA said allocation of financial resources should follow CBD Article 20 (financial resources) and the CBDR principle. He further called for taking into account recognition of rights of nature and Mother Earth.

SWITZERLAND said implementation should be a national priority and, with NORWAY and JAPAN, objected to the conditionality on financial responsibilities imposed by including CBDR.

SOUTH AFRICA called for setting up of a global biodiversity fund and a mechanism for capacity building, scientific cooperation, and technology transfer, and further called for a decision on DSI.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA said preambular paragraphs should clarify the reasons for the two-year delay in the GBF adoption. She also noted that the operational paragraphs have no reference to the year 2030 and therefore fail to communicate the urgency of actions on biodiversity.

COSTA RICA reiterated the importance of the 30-by-30 target on protected areas in the set of solutions to curb biodiversity loss.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA called for inclusion of reference to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), particularly the Man and Biosphere Programme in the current list of organizations supporting GBF implementation.

The DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO lamented the slow progress of the WG2020 and asked for intersessional work to ensure GBF adoption.

MEXICO highlighted the need to strengthen cooperation with subnational governments; commitments on human rights and the critical role of IPLCs, women, and girls; and the need for means of implementation from all sources for effective GBF implementation

CHINA stressed that the GBF should reflect the fundamental points towards which global efforts should focus on, noting that GBF implementation should fall under the scope of the Convention.

The PHILIPPINES said the GBF needs to: reflect the need for transformative change; recognize IPLCs, women, and youth as key partners in implementation; and be implemented following a rights-based approach in line with intergenerational and gender equity.

BELARUS noted that developing countries need assistance for GBF implementation, stressing that all developing countries should be entitled to such assistance.

IRAN highlighted the need for enhanced communication, public awareness, capacity development, and biodiversity mainstreaming, underscoring that all developing countries should receive support for implementation, irrespective of political and economic restrictions.

PERU called for clear, measurable, short, and non-duplicative GBF targets, stressing the need to prioritize the conservation of endangered species and fragile ecosystems.

Pointing to the dramatic consequences the biodiversity crisis brings upon communities, TOGO expressed concerns regarding the slow pace of progress.

ETHIOPIA called for clear, simple, quantified, and measurable targets in addition to putting in place appropriate resource mobilization, communication, financial support, and capacity-building mechanisms, in line with national priorities.

ISRAEL stressed that the targets must be short and measurable, and highlighted the connection between climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

Calling for focused discussions and compromises, ZIMBABWE noted that the GBF is a framework document and parties are free to customize it according to national circumstances.

NIGER highlighted the need for a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism, including benefits arising from utilization of DSI on genetic resources.

The HOLY SEE, as a non-party, underscored the urgency to adopt the GBF, calling for effective, clear, and unambiguous language in the framework.

IIFB called for reflecting human rights as well as collective rights of Indigenous groups in the draft decision, and guaranteeing the full and effective participation of IPLCs, women, and youth in biodiversity-related decision-making processes.

GYBN urged recognizing the key contributions of IPLCs, women, and youth for GBF implementation, stressing the need to follow a rights-based approach.

The CBD WOMEN’S CAUCUS urged for a standalone goal on gender equality, stressing that more than 50 parties have expressed their support for such a target.

ACADEMIA AND RESEARCH noted the need to reflect that the three CBD objectives are mutually supportive, and stressed a clear human rights-based approach will be transformative for biodiversity conservation.

WWF supported a rights-based approach, urged for synergies with other agreements and frameworks, and called for clarifying how a whole-of-society approach may be enabled.

On Sunday, the Co-Chairs invited the Working Group to consider the draft decision as part of its recommendation to Part II of COP15. Co-Chair Ogwal introduced the document (CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.3), containing elements for a draft decision operationalizing the GBF.

The EU, supported by the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, reiterated that the draft decision should be further discussed following the development of the GBF, suggesting submitting comments in writing.

NAMIBIA requested reference to the intersessional work to be conducted on DSI prior to COP15.

NORWAY and AUSTRALIA requested revisiting the elements of the draft decision, noting that some of their suggestions submitted in writing had not been incorporated.

MEXICO suggested fully recognizing the role of women and girls in biodiversity conservation in a separate preambular paragraph.

BELARUS requested adding reference to countries with economies in transition.

Co-Chair Ogwal suggested that additional comments be submitted in writing, noting that the draft decision is an evolving document that follows the development of the GBF.

Delegates agreed and CBD/WG2020/4/CRP.3 was approved with these amendments.

Other Matters

ARGENTINA, supported by CHILE, urged ownership of the GBF by all parties, and emphasized the importance of intersessional work. BRAZIL emphasized the need to ensure a participatory process in intersessional work.

The DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO requested the Co-Chairs to develop modalities to advance the text of the GBF before the fifth session of the WG2020.

SWITZERLAND, supported by CANADA, reiterated their position that the headline indicators and the GBF form an ambitious package and must be adopted at COP15.

Adoption of the Report 

Delegates adopted the GBF draft recommendation to COP15 (CBD/WG2020/4/L.2-ANNEX) without amendments. Rapporteur Leina Al-Awadhi (Kuwait) presented the report of the meeting for adoption (CBD/WG2020/4/L.1). The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said they would provide their intervention made during plenary in writing as it is not fully captured in the report. COSTA RICA clarified that their statement was on behalf of a group of 48 biodiverse countries and not the HAC.

The report was adopted.

Closing Statements

On Sunday evening, Co-Chair Ogwal invited regional and stakeholders’ closing statements.

Argentina, for GRULAC, noted that, despite moving forward on the discussion on DSI and some of the GBF targets, a feeling of frustration remains regarding limited progress and unwillingness of some parties to compromise. He stressed the need for intersessional work to be effective, inclusive, and transparent, focusing on “working towards compromise, lifting brackets, and underlying our convergences over our disagreements.”

New Zealand, for the JUSSCANNZ GROUP, emphasized that despite progress across multiple areas of the GBF, including DSI, “we need to do better in listening to each other and finding common ground.” She highlighted differences in parties’ positions, priorities, national circumstances, and understanding regarding means of implementation. She underscored that all agree that implementation will require a significant increase and mobilization of resources from all sources, and called on all parties to overcome their differences and work with mutual trust and understanding.

Senegal, for the AFRICAN GROUP, expressed his deep concern over various parts of the GBF, despite progress. Calling for compromises on key aspects that will allow GBF adoption, he highlighted the need to mobilize resources, including establishing a new biodiversity fund and a multilateral system for benefit-sharing for DSI on genetic resources. He called for capacity building and knowledge transfer, and concluded that, despite the difficulties, the region is committed to intersessional work and still optimistic regarding adopting an ambitious GBF at COP15.

The EU stressed that, despite significant advances on a number of issues, “we are still far from where we should be on GBF goals, targets, and means of implementation.” He lamented that on several targets “we run the risk of moving backwards compared to the Aichi level of ambition.” He called for an ambitious and easily communicable GBF with a solid monitoring framework and concrete steps on review of progress, including periodic stocktakes. He further underscored the need to continue working towards a solution on DSI and a realistic resource mobilization target.

Sri Lanka, for ASIA-PACIFIC, highlighted the need to stimulate bold and ambitious commitments, and develop solid ground for considering DSI-related benefit-sharing at COP15. She underscored that “our challenges can only be remedied by our own actions,” and emphasized that, through careful planning and global action, “we can move towards our common goal of conserving the planet and its biodiversity.”

CANADA, as COP15 host, highlighted progress during the meeting, but stressed that “biodiversity is in trouble and requires our collective resolve.” He welcomed all to COP15, noting that the hosts will do their utmost to create a warm atmosphere during the Montreal winter.

Bahamas, for SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS), underscored that SIDS possess some of the most unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the world, but are also highly susceptible to climate change and biodiversity loss, calling for addressing their needs, challenges, and vulnerabilities. She stressed the need for clear, concise, and achievable targets, and called for means of implementation, resource mobilization, capacity building and technology transfer at all levels, and technical and scientific cooperation, respecting the rights of IPLCs, and recognizing the role of women and youth.

CHILE, also on behalf of COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, MEXICO, and PERU, called for: a clear roadmap for intersessional work towards COP15; a clear scope on DSI, recognizing the intrinsic relationship between genetic resources and DSI, which should be included under Goal C and Target 15; adopting the 30-by-30 target on protected areas; recognizing the role of IPLCs, women, and girls, guaranteeing their full and effective participation in decision making; and understanding the interlinkages between pollution, desertification, and the COVID-19 pandemic to effectively address them.

The PHILIPPINES, also for CAMBODIA, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, MYANMAR, SINGAPORE, THAILAND, and VIET NAM, called for an easily communicable set of goals using the Aichi Targets as a blueprint; a whole-of-community approach, including subnational and regional actors, and stakeholders including IPLCs, women, and youth as well as the private sector; and flexibility in developing the GBF targets, looking forward to the intersessional process.

Palau, speaking for PACIFIC SIDS, said 2030 is eight years away, noting that for SIDS the GBF provides a significant opportunity to secure survival of ocean and island biodiversity. SIDS, she reiterated, have “nowhere to run” and are faced with inevitability of becoming refugees.

Ethiopia, speaking for LIKE-MINDED MEGADIVERSE COUNTRIES, called for, among others, timely monitoring and adequate review processes for effective GBF implementation.

IIFB emphasized that a human rights-based approach is imperative for a transformative GBF consistent with the rights of IPLCs.

GYBN said children and youth are facing the direct impacts of progressive socioecological crisis, and urged parties to become champions of youth, and affirm explicit language on full, equitable, and effective youth participation.

LOCAL AND SUBNATIONAL GOVERNMENTS said they are committed to effective GBF implementation.

The CBD ALLIANCE called for incorporation of rights of IPLCs and other voices of those representing biodiversity.

BUSINESS FOR NATURE said businesses should not be put in a competitive disadvantage but rather encouraged to access and disclose impacts of their practices.

The CONSORTIUM OF SCIENTIFIC PARTNERS FOR BIODIVERSITY said citizen science is an important tool for involving all of society, particularly youth.

WWF reported that biodiversity and ecosystem services are at the brink of collapse, saying that unless the CBD delivers a robust GBF, COP15 will be considered a failure.

The INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE (IUCN) said the window of opportunity to halt and reverse biodiversity loss is “gone by the minute,” and urged the WG2020 to exercise flexibility in negotiations.

Co-Chair van Havre, discussing intersessional work, reported the Bureau’s proposal to hold a three-day fifth meeting of the WG2020 prior to COP15.

Zhou Guomei, Deputy Secretary General, CCICED, speaking on behalf of the COP15 Presidency, noted that “the world is watching,” and waiting for the CBD to deliver and adopt a balanced GBF for the planet and for future generations.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary, commended parties for continued commitment and engagement, through which “a new framework for nature and a beacon of hope for humanity is coming to shape.” She stressed that there is no room for failure and called upon parties in a position to do so to provide financial support for intersessional work and COP15.

Co-Chair van Havre stressed that delegates’ hard work led to clean text on several elements of the GBF, cautioning, however, that a lot of work still lies ahead. He emphasized that “now it is not the time to slow down,” urging all parties to put the intersessional period to good use.

Co-Chair Ogwal underscored that progress on DSI is “a testament of what we can achieve when we are committed to finding common ground,” and expressed his confidence that COP15 “will be the most successful and significant meeting of them all.”

The two Co-Chairs jointly gaveled the meeting to a close at 8:56 pm GMT+3.

A Brief Analysis of the Meeting

“For behold! the storm comes,

and now all friends should gather together,

lest each singly be destroyed.” – Gandalf

An ominous existential threat hovers over humanity, increasingly so for young people and future generations. Human practices have been unsustainable for too long, overshooting planetary limits, and endangering future prosperity and wellbeing both for people and for the breathtaking diversity of all living species on the planet. Degraded ecosystems are much more than a matter of aesthetics or of moral responsibility in terms of biodiversity stewardship. Ecosystem services provided by nature are crucial for long-term survival of humans and other species of fauna and flora, and indisputable scientific evidence agrees that the path we are on leads to self-destruction.

Similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings where efforts focus on saving Middle Earth from destruction, the biodiversity community has embarked in a quest to reverse the doomsday scenario, by finding the path to a new world, where humans live in harmony with nature. This is the 2050 Vision for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and to fulfill it, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) is considered one of its most important instruments. In that respect, the GBF is as important for the biodiversity community as the plan to destroy Tolkien’s One Ring—the means through which sustainable long-term coexistence with nature can be achieved.

This brief analysis will examine the fourth meeting of the Working Group on the GBF (WG2020-4), its achievements and shortcomings, and what remains to be done to enable a positive outcome at the upcoming 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP15).

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

“My precious” – Gollum

It has been a long and winding road for the development of the GBF, which started in August 2019 in Nairobi with the first meeting of the Working Group.

The GBF was supposed to be finalized and agreed upon at COP15 in Kunming, China, in October 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic violently derailed this trajectory. Just as the WG2020 concluded its second meeting in Rome in February 2020, the world came to a halt. A series of virtual meetings, workshops, and dialogues helped to maintain the pace until in-person meetings were finally possible.    

The working group’s third meeting (WG2020-3) took place in two tranches, one held virtually at the end of August 2021, and a second in-person meeting in Geneva in March 2022. At the Geneva meeting, the goal was to provide delegates with scientific and technical advice, and guidance on implementation. Thus, the meeting—dubbed Geneva Biodiversity Conference—included parallel meetings with two subsidiary bodies of the Convention: the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI). Despite this conducive environment, parties failed to reach the stage of development for the GBF that would allow ample optimism for a successful adoption at COP15. Thus, parties determined that an extraordinary WG2020-4 was necessary.

Progress in Nairobi

“The board is set, the pieces are moving” – Gandalf

Delegates were expected to finalize the GBF negotiations in Nairobi. While these expectations were not fulfilled and many parts of the document still require considerable work, the meeting’s achievements should not be underestimated.

One of the most difficult and controversial items on the agenda, digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources, generated productive discussions, following the breakthrough on the issue in Geneva earlier this year. In the words of Co-Chair Francis Ogwal, “Progress on DSI is a testament of what we can achieve when we are committed to finding common ground.”

DSI, the result of sequencing genomes or proteins, deciphering the genetic material found in an organism or virus, is a game changer for biological sciences. The applications are wide and open a whole new world of opportunity on, among other issues, ecosystem research, plant and animal breeding, plant pest management, invasive species regulation, and fighting illegal trade. DSI is further starting a new era on drug creation, vaccine development, or gene defect repair.

Although there are socio-economic and biosafety concerns related to some DSI applications that still need to be addressed, many delegates repeatedly stressed during the negotiations that DSI on genetic resources is not a problem, but a breakthrough. What is challenging, however, is relevant benefit-sharing from the use of DSI. Most parties seem to agree more now than ever that such benefit-sharing arrangements will be necessary for continued open access to such information and the full realization of the technology’s potential.

When the issue first landed on the CBD’s agenda, a few parties insisted that the DSI discussion falls outside the scope of the Convention and its Nagoya Protocol, opposing any concept of a benefit-sharing-related regulative framework. There has been much progress since then and although final agreement is still distant, in the words of one delegate, “A clear pathway to reaching such agreement is more visible than ever.”

This pathway includes significant intersessional work, including by the relevant Informal Advisory Group and by an independent consultant, who is currently working on potential policy options for a future benefit-sharing regime. While future steps and decisions on the issue cannot be prejudged, gradually developing a common understanding and moving towards consensus on such a complicated issue with so many implications, is notable progress.

At least one regional group emphasized multiple times during the negotiations that DSI constitutes a “red line” in GBF negotiations, cautioning that failing to reach a common understanding on DSI-related benefit-sharing would prevent agreement on the GBF. Following progress in the DSI discussions—and challenges in other parts of the GBF—the tables may have turned. As one of the DSI contact group co-leads informally joked at the end of the meeting: “We were concerned we would end up with no GBF without an agreement on DSI; maybe now we should be concerned about ending up with no DSI without an agreement on the GBF.”

Indeed, considerable compromises are still needed to reach agreement on the post-2020 framework. As things currently stand, all four goals of the GBF require a substantial amount of work. Many delegates are now more confident that at least all the pieces, namely the targets, are on the board. To move them into place, however, will require considerable efforts. Out of the framework’s 22 targets—that may become 23 if an additional suggested target on health is agreed upon—consensus was reached on just one and a half.

Target 12 on green and blue spaces for urban areas was agreed upon as well as Target 19.2 on non-financial elements of resource mobilization. The Working Group forwarded “clean” negotiated text to COP15. On some other targets, disagreements persist, however most delegates seem to agree that the text is now stable enough to enable consensus at COP15 in December 2022.

Uphill Climb

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” – Gimli

Most delegates and participants pointed towards Target 19.1 on financing implementation as the most important challenge for successfully completing the GBF. Mobilization of financial resources has always been a thorn in the flesh of the CBD and arguably all multilateral environmental agreements.

Most delegates agree that lack of means of implementation was the main reason for failing to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets envisioned in the Convention’s previous strategic plan. Subsequently, parties are on the same page that a significant increase of the means of implementation, including financial resources, will be required if history is not to be repeated. However, consensus ends there and archetypal differences between developed and developing countries surfaced once again during the negotiations.

Article 20 of the Convention on financial resources became a battlefield in Nairobi, with developing countries evoking developed country parties’ obligations to provide new and additional financial resources. Others insisted on the need to mobilize additional financial resources from all sources, stressing that without pragmatic expectations on financial resource mobilization targets, consensus will be hard to reach. A large gap exists between what the two groups of parties consider as “realistic targets.” The proposal for the creation of a new global biodiversity fund also generated disagreements. Those in favor argued that it will stimulate the necessary transition, while those against stressed that “a new fund does not equate to new funding,” strongly suggesting using existing mechanisms, pointing to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which recently concluded its eighth replenishment period with a significant increase in funds devoted to biodiversity.

Other GBF targets also generated disagreements, with some linked to resource mobilization, such as the part of Target 18 referring to subsidies/incentives harmful to biodiversity. Although the global funding gap for biodiversity, as estimated in relevant reports such as “Financing Nature” by the Paulson Institute or the “Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity,” is over USD 700 billion per year, a daunting figure for many, a lot can be done by addressing agricultural, fisheries, and forestry subsidies that are harmful to nature. These subsidies are estimated at more than USD 500 billion annually. Some delegates emphasized that addressing these subsidies, especially those most harmful to biodiversity, can go a long way to closing the gap. This is easier said than done, however, as national interests and priorities remain, and international obligations under other instruments, such as the World Trade Organization, are often evoked.

Other targets that attracted considerable disagreement and will require intense discussions to reach an agreement include those related to biosafety, sustainable use, and pollution. Negotiations on these, and other, targets will be delicate and, as delegates noted, careful crafting and compromises will be required to reach an ambitious package deal on the GBF.

Next Steps on the Road to Montreal

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Gandalf

During the closing plenary, delegates acknowledged that a lot of work will need to be done intersessionally to increase the chances to reach consensus. Other than the DSI-related work, a fifth meeting of the WG2020 prior to COP15 already became increasingly probable by midweek and, in the view of many participants, necessary. The announcement of a proposed three-day fifth meeting was met with general relief, as it would allow further work on the most contested targets as well as ironing out the text on targets close to reaching agreement.

While a second “extra” meeting may at first glance seem inefficient, the negotiation of a holistic biodiversity framework is by no means an easy task. Now that the venue and dates have been agreed, moving COP15 from Kunming, China, to Montreal, Canada, on 5-17 December 2022, there is a clear deadline. As a veteran negotiator noted in the sidelines: “There are a few ways to fail; we need to agree on so many controversial issues and any of them could derail the process. Still, the most unceremonious way to fail would be due to lack of time.”

Expectations for the Second Part of COP15

“Who knows? Have patience. Go where you must go, and hope!”  – Gandalf

Reaching agreement on the GBF is the most significant expectation from Part II of COP15. Participants in Nairobi emphasized that the GBF goes well beyond the CBD, and its adoption is important for all biodiversity-related conventions. This fact was epitomized through an intervention by the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions, which called for integrating their respective mandates in the GBF and recognizing their distinct roles in implementation.

As many delegates underscored, however, agreeing on the GBF is a necessary but not sufficient condition to put the world on a path to recovery. They pointed to previous agreement on the Aichi Targets, but failure to meet them, emphasizing that the GBF is just the beginning and aspirations can only be attained through its full and effective implementation.

Furthermore, some delegates, well versed in the Convention’s work, pointed to the multiple programmes of work under the CBD, cautioning that the GBF is only one of the items under consideration at COP15 and, albeit very important, it should not remove focus from other significant items. 

Many participants agreed that reaching agreement on the GBF will require, in addition to compromises and finding middle-ground on controversial issues, prioritization of the most important issues under discussion. Pointing to lengthy, largely infertile debates on peripheral issues and alternative target formulations, they insisted that such practice detracts valuable time from other important matters.

While the result is uncertain, what is at stake is not, and COP15 is considered one of the most important in the history of biodiversity governance. If successful, it will signal not the end, but the beginning of the road towards putting biodiversity on a path to recovery. In the words of Bilbo Baggins: “Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.”

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