Hello once again Canada,
I'm back now from COP13, and after having decompressed from a few days, I think I've finally gotten my head wrapped around this whole crazy conference. COP13- or I guess just COPs- was fascinating. The whole process, from the formality of each country's first time on the mic, to the late contact group meetings that can go into the early hours of the night as countries argue over words, somehow happen during the same two week period. Some days it seems like no work gets done, but other days you'll fly through a bunch of Conference Room Papers in three hours. One day, for example, Working Group 2 (the conference was split in half, into two groups, in order to get everything done quickly) quickly created 3 L-documents (the final documents before they get agreed upon officially by all of the parties) from their previous Conference Room Papers in 45 minutes, only to then spend the next 2 and a half/ 3 hours discussing one document. It's honestly shocking that anything ever gets done.
To get a bit more into the facts, while I was there over the first week, 8 L-documents were created and agreed upon. They were for the following documents: Modus Operandi of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation across COP and COPMOPs (UNEP/ CBD/COP/13/L.5, CP/COP-MOP/8/L.2 and NP/COP-MOP/2/L.2), Sustainable use of biodiversity: Bushmeat and sustainable wildlife management (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.2), Recommendation from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to the CBD (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.3), Climate-related geoengineering (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.4), Marine spatial planning and training initiatives (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.6), and Implications of the IPBES assessment on pollinators, pollination and food production for the work of the convention (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.7). All of these documents can be found here: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/2016/cop-13/documents under the COP13, COPMOP8, and COPMOP2 document subheadings. The big hot topic at this COP was synthetic biology, and how digitized genomes should be regulated under the CBD and its protocols, and discussions on this topic not only lasted the week while I was there, but took up a good chunk of time in the second week as well. Finally, the locations of the next three COPs were decided. They'll take place in Egypt (COP14), China (COP15), and Turkey (COP16)
The whole process is incredible complex and wonderfully interesting, and makes me feel hopeful for the continued protection of biodiversity. People seemed to really care about the protection and promotion of biodiversity, and hopefully this passion and these discussions will leave this conference and turn into real world, on the ground, action.
Just a quick update from down here in beautiful Cancun (I've heard it's been snowing in Canada... pretty happy to have missed that). I'm just about to start the second day of COP13 events, but I've got lots to update you all on.
A week ago now was the Civil Society and Youth Forum, where young people from Mexico and across the world came together to talk about mainstreaming biodiversity, not only across the four main sectors being focused on here at the COP (Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, and Tourism), but across Urban Planning as well, something that we though was important enough to highlight as well. The forum, overall, was great, but instead of going over specifics parts of what happened, I instead want to focus on the general atmosphere. Even with the supposed cultural and language differences and barriers, that arise at a large international meeting such as this, it was incredible to see that we all have the same problems, and all want the same solutions. The problem of sustaining and protecting biodiversity is one that crosses borders, and was honestly pretty incredible to see.
After that I attended the Science Forum, which was also good. The forum also focused on mainstreaming biodiversity, but only across the four main sectors. The general feeling that came out of the forum was that biodiversity science needs to be used and incorporated into policy more by decision makers, and that science needs to incorporate local and indigenous communities, as well as be accessible to them.
Finally, the COP13 officially started on Sunday night, but I'll get into more of that in the next blog post. If you have a hankering to know more about the proceeding right now, be sure to follow us on instragram, twitter, and facebook. You might also want to follow GYBN on all of those platforms as well, as they have far more people in their media team than just me.
So now that we know all of the major parts and moving pieces of the CBD and COP, it's time to tackle what's happening this year at COP13. The overarching theme this year is a big one: Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Well-Being- and that doesn't mean explaining to your grandparents what biodiversity is. The goal of mainstreaming biodiversity, is to make sure it is included, and understood, across a breadth of different sectors, with a focus on agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and tourism. Now, believe me, there's a lot going on (as you can see here), but some of the main things that are happening include a review on where we are with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, a review of the progress towards achieving Aichi target 16, how to better protect marine and coastal biodiversity, and how to deal with invasives (and that's just the first day). I can't personally speak to your interests and persuasions, but here's another breakdown of what the next two weeks may look like, for you to pick and choose to learn more about at your leisure. What's important to remember, as you peruse through all of these links, is that this conference is all about mainstreaming biodiversity, and that means looking at what's worked, what hasn't worked, and where we can go from here.
So we've gone over what the CBD is, we know how it operates, and we know the main part of their decade long plan. What we haven't talked about yet, however, are any of its protocols. Way back on day 2, I mentioned that at COPs the CBD works on creating and reinforcing protocols, so today I'm going to focus on its major one: The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (it's a bit of a mouthful). The protocol was adopted on October 29th, 2010, but only came into effect on October 12, 2014, and provides a legal framework for enforcing the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources. It essentially covers how countries are allowed to use and share natural materials- something hugely important if we're trying to protect and sustain biodiversity. Currently, Canada has not signed on to the protocol. For more information, go here!
Instead of learning another acronym today, we are going to answer the question – what are the Aichi Targets? In 2010, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Countries agreed to the Strategic Plan because of the urgent need for action in support of biodiversity. It includes 20 ambitious but achievable targets, known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and fall under five strategic goals:
Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
Strategic Goal C: Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building
The Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets act as a flexible framework for governments to establish national and regional targets, so that countries can move from words to actions, and from actions to measurable results. Establishing and working towards these targets is a key component in fulfilling the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Want to learn more? Click here to see all 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
Similarly to the SBSTTA, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) is another permanent subsidiary body- second of two- and was formed at COP12 in 2014, out of the Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on the Review of the Implementation. The SBI works on providing advice on how the implementation of the CBD can be enhanced, with a focus on its protocols and the 2011-2020 strategic plan. Simply put, their focus is on how the goals of the CBD are being implemented, and how they can be better achieved. Since the SBI is a newer permanent subsidiary body, they have only had one meeting thus far, in May of 2016, and as such, COP13 will be the first time they officially provide advice.
You guessed it, we have another acronym for you to learn! The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, kind of a mouth full so let’s just use SBSTTA (sibsta?). SBSTTA is an intergovernmental advisory body. This body supports the implementation of the work of the COP. Members include government representatives from various fields of expertise. The body is responsible for providing assessments of the status of biological diversity and the measures taken in accordance with the Convention. They are also responsible for responding to questions from the COP. They have met 18 times since 1995 and have produced almost 200 recommendations to the COP! Recommendations are reviewed by the COP, those that are fully endorsed become decisions of the COP. Other recommendations may be partially endorsed or modified and then accepted by the COP.
For more information on SBSTTA take a look at the CBD website!
Yesterday, I answered the question: What's the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)? Now that we're all on the same page, it's time to focus on yet another acronym. What is a Conference of the Parties (COP)? Based on the first word, it’s clearly a conference, but the explanation doesn’t end there. COP is the highest decision making body of the CBD. A COP has occurred every other year since 1996. At COP, all member states come together to negotiate and adopt decisions and protocols. While both are legal documents, protocols are legally binding and decisions only have some legal force. It is important that countries stick to their commitments; decisions set the tone for a country and while not binding, they can be powerful. Over the course of a COP, member states negotiate and develop decisions and/or protocols over a two-week period. The result of negotiations, and the COP itself, is the production of final documents on decisions and protocols.
For more information and resources about COP:
Check out the Convention on Biological Diversity website
Take a look at this visual representation produced by Earth in Brackets
We've all heard about the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (the CBD), and it sounds super fancy, but what is it really? I could tell you that it was born out of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and officially came into being in 1993. I could tell you that it's building blocks were starting to be put into place in 1987- maybe even further back in 1972. At the end of the day however, to understand what the CBD is, all you need is one word: Treaty. The CBD is an international UN treaty tasked with creating national strategies that conserve biodiversity, promote the sustainable use of biodiversity, and share, in a fair and equitable way, the benefits that arise from genetic resources. Like I said though, it's a treaty- the CBD is an international treaty concerned with biological diversity.
ELB at CBD COP13
Join Thomas as he heads to Cancun as a part of the Canadian Delegation at the 13th Conference of the Parties.