Outcomes of United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15)

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    In News 

    Recently, The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) ended in Montreal, Canada with a landmark agreement to guide global action on nature through to 2030. 

    • This conference was the biodiversity equivalent of the more high-profile climate meetings that are held every year.

    About the Conference 

    • It is chaired by China, hosted by Canada, and resulted in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
    • The GBF aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. 
    • It also contains proposals to increase finance to developing countries – a major sticking point during talks.

    Major Highlights 

    • The GBF consists of four overarching global goals to protect nature, including:
      • Halting human-induced extinction of threatened species and reducing the rate of extinction of all species tenfold by 2050
      • Sustainable use and management of biodiversity to ensure that nature’s contributions to people are valued, maintained and enhanced
      • Fair sharing of the benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources; and 
      • that adequate means of implementing the GBF be accessible to all Parties, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
    • The GBF also features 23 targets to achieve by 2030, including:
    • Effective conservation and management of at least 30 percent of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans. 
      • Currently, 17 percent of land and *8 percent of marine areas are under the protection
    • Restoration of 30 percent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems
    • Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance and high ecological integrity
    • Halving global food waste
    • Phasing out or reforming subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
    • Mobilizing at least $200 billion per year from public and private sources for biodiversity-related funding
    • Raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries to at least US$ 30 billion per year
    • Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply and value chains

    Issues 

    • The planet is experiencing a dangerous decline in nature as a result of human activity. It is experiencing its largest loss of life since the dinosaurs. 
    • One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.
    • Climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, while changes in land and ocean use have an impact on climate change. Land degradation appears as a cause as well as effect in both climate change and biodiversity loss
    • The major challenge to protecting and expanding biodiversity conservation is the use of GDP as the chief determinant of development. 
      •  GDP is based on a faulty application of economics that excludes “depreciation of assets” like nature which is degraded by relentless extraction of resources. 

    Do you Know?

    •  The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the CBD were both outcomes of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit — as was the third member of the family, the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), which deals specifically with the issue of land degradation. 
      • The three environmental conventions seek to address the issues that overlap among them.
      • All three agreements hold their separate COPs, the interlinkages, not very obvious in the 1990s, are getting increasingly evident. 
        • The success of anyone helps the cause of others too.
    • Cartagena and Nagoya: The CBD has given rise to two ‘supplementary’ agreements — the Cartagena Protocol of 2003 and the Nagoya Protocol of 2014.
      • Both agreements take their names from the places where they were negotiated.
      • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to protect biodiversity from genetically modified organisms by ensuring their safe handling, transport, and use. 
      • The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing deals with the commercial utilisation of biological and genetic resources, for example, by pharma companies.
        •  It asks the host countries to provide access to its genetic resources in a legal, fair and non-arbitrary manner and, as mentioned above, offers them a fair and equitable share of benefits arising out of the utilisation of those resources.

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • There is a need to take urgent action to protect and restore the world’s biodiversity — all the different forms of life, plants as well as animals, that inhabit this planet.
      •  about 1 million species face extinction, some within a few decades if urgent action is not taken
    • Success of Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework will be measured by our rapid and consistent progress in implementing what we have agreed to. 
    • Countries would have to review existing laws relating to not just the environment, but areas such as industry, agriculture, and land use, to ensure that the national strategy and action plan adequately protects biodiversity
      • They must provide information for sustainable consumption and comply with the rules on benefit-sharing. Perverse incentives that affect biodiversity should be eliminated.
    • There is a need for appreciation of nature, and measuring “inclusive wealth”, which captures not just financial and produced capital but also human, social, and natural capital.

    Mains Practice Question 

    [Q] What does the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)  mean for the ongoing loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity?  Discuss the possible impact on the environment.