The United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) ended its first round of negotiations Friday in China, which is leading efforts to conclude a deal that improves protection of nature and allows for greater commitments on financial matters.
COP15 must achieve a global framework of protection to preserve ecosystems, which is essential to have access to drinking water, clean air, food and raw materials by 2030. And to achieve “living in harmony with nature” by 2050.
Protecting nature, which has long been a secondary issue, is opening a hole (albeit little by little) in the international political agenda.
The first part of COP15 was held in the Chinese city of Kunming (southwest), largely by video link. The second part is expected to take place in the spring of 2022 and be a face-to-face event. This format was adopted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Before there was a previous meeting in Switzerland.
On Wednesday, the so-called Kunming Declaration, a China-led text advocating ideas such as “environmental civilization,” was adopted at this conference. In part, it addresses the targets that will be negotiated by the 196 member states of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in January in Geneva, in the preamble to Part Two of COP15.
The declaration reflects the goal of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030, but without specifying whether Beijing supports it.
This position “gives us an idea of the kind of leadership that China is proposing,” Li Shu of Greenpeace told AFP.
China, which has officially chaired COP15 since Monday, “plays a very important role,” says Lin Li of the WWF.
“Host country leadership is essential to a successful outcome, setting the level of ambition necessary to resolve the biodiversity crisis and building the necessary partnerships to achieve this goal,” adds Lee.
In addition, as you will recall, China has made important commitments in the fight against climate change.
For Julien Rochet, of the French think tank IDDRI, this declaration allows for a “re-launch of the political impulse” that “we would like to see translated into the text of the negotiations”.
– Next stage: Geneva –
In addition, at this 15th Conference of the Parties, programs for financing biodiversity protection have been put on the table. China launched a $233 million fund for developing countries. Japan has promised to pump nearly $16 million.
The French Development Agency (AFD) estimates the economic needs to protect biodiversity between $722,000 and $967,000 million, between now and 2030, but only between $124,000 and $143,000 million is earmarked for it. And another 500,000 million used for catastrophic subsidies against nature.
These announcements are a “shy start,” supposedly Li Shu of Greenpeace, which is asking for transparency in China’s bottoms: how it will be managed, how it will complement existing financial instruments and for how long. As for some countries the Global Environment Facility (WEF) is the most appropriate instrument for financing biodiversity-related actions.
“Finance is a vital issue because it defines the commitments of some countries (in the negotiations), especially those in the South,” says Rochet. The announcements made in Kunming “are a good sign. They brought up the issue of funding for discussion.”
All eyes are now on Geneva and the two and a half weeks of direct negotiations. “But the commitments aren’t there, we won’t have a solid plan to protect biodiversity in the spring if we don’t build it now,” warns Shuo.
Plans to doubt about holding the second part of the COP in China. For some observers, this country is unlikely to risk hosting thousands of people from all over the world for negotiations due to fear of the Corona virus. Some believe that the summit can move to Montreal (Canada). For others, on the contrary, Beijing could score a victory if it organizes the COP as planned.
© 2021 AFP
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