Nairobi meetings acknowledge key role of subnational governments in tackling biodiversity loss

Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) advanced a global plan at the fourth Open Ended Working Group (OEWG-4) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 21-26 June to bend the curve on biodiversity loss. This Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is expected to be adopted at the CBD COP 15 in Montreal, Canada – under the Chinese presidency – in December 2022. 

The CBD is the only Rio Convention that has a systematic and comprehensive mechanism for multilevel governance that provides a framework for local and subnational governments to support Parties in reaching global and national biodiversity targets.

What was achieved at OEWG-4

Delegates worked on the text from the OEWG-3 meetings in Geneva in March, and rationalized parts of it, achieved consensus on several targets, and proposed diverse options for large parts of the framework. Parties set out their ambitions with respect to the goals of the framework, and refined the essential targets related to conservation, sustainable use, and benefit-sharing. They worked to develop a plan for resource mobilization and other means of implementation and highlighted the contribution of nature to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Parties also charted the pathway for an agreement on the sharing of benefits from Digital Sequencing Information on genetic resources. Their discussions further strengthened the role of Indigenous peoples, local communities, women, youth, and other stakeholders and to ensure that all voices will be heard, and no one will be left behind. 

Although discussions covered the entire framework text – which includes four goals and 23 proposed targets – four important goals of the framework (A through D) were a subject of intense discussion: 

Goal A – protecting biodiversity at all levels and preventing extinctions; 

Goal B – ensuring that biodiversity can meet people’s needs and support their human rights;

Goal C – benefits from the use of biodiversity and genetic resources are shared with equity and the traditional knowledge and rights of Indigenous and Local Communities are respected; and 

Goal D – adequate level of the means of implementation are enabled, including financial resources, capacity building and other supports to action.

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I want to thank the Parties for their hard work, their commitment to consensus, and honest engagement in these negotiations. These efforts are considerable and have produced a text that, with additional work, will be the basis for reaching the 2050 vision of the Convention: a life in harmony with nature. I call upon the Parties, in the next months, to vigorously engage with the text, to listen to each other and seek consensus, and to prepare the final text for adoption at COP 15.

~ Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Tweet

The Local and Subnational Major Group

The Local and Subnational Major Group was represented in-person by ICLEI with Ingrid Coetzee heading the delegation, and the Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments for Biodiversity, represented by a delegation from Quebec Province comprising Assistant Deputy Minister Jacob, Martin Malus – head of the delegation – Jean Lemire, and Rachel Levesque. Similar to previous CBD post-2020 meetings, ICLEI coordinated the delegation.

While there are still important elements that require additional work and consultation with the capital to further streamline texts, the Nairobi negotiations represented a good outcome for the local and subnational major group. These outcomes include:

  • similar to previous meetings, the meeting was marked by an increase in Parties (Nepal, Iran and the Philippines) calling for the inclusion of local and subnational governments in the GBF;
  • some Parties commended the Local and Subnational Major Group on how well coordinated and strategic their interventions were;
  • the Local and Subnational Major Group was given the opportunity to make two interventions in the contact groups – both interventions for text amendments to section B.bis (on [Principles and] [Approaches] [Guidance] for the implementation of the Framework) were supported by the Parties. References to local and subnational governments are also found in section B. Purpose, section D. Theory of Change, and section 1. Enabling Conditions; and
  • the group was invited to deliver joint statements in the opening and closing plenaries.

Local and subnational governments at COP 15 and 7th Cities Summit

Despite the important contributions of OEWG-4, a considerable amount of work will be required to advance the text for final high-level consideration by the Parties at COP 15. The OEWG-4 Meeting agreed to develop a path forward that includes the engagement of all regions preparing for talks involving all Parties immediately before the second part COP 15. These gatherings – culminating in OEWG-5 – would prepare a text for final negotiation by Ministers and their delegations at the second part of COP 15.

The relocation and new date for COP 15 Part 2 was announced during the opening plenary, following consultations between the Bureau, the Government of China as COP President, the Secretariat and the Government of Canada as host of the Secretariat. COP 15 Part 2 will be held in Montreal, Canada at the seat of the Secretariat, from 5 to 17 December 2022. China, as COP 15 President, will continue to preside over the Meetings, with the logo and the theme of COP 15 maintained. China will also convene the High-Level Segment and lead the facilitation of negotiations. 

COP 15 and the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities and Subnational Governments will be a global milestone to welcome a stronger contribution of local and subnational governments in the post-2020 GBF. It will be a strategic and historic moment for the local and subnational major group, which is calling for CBD Parties to adopt a renewed decision on engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the post-2020 GBF, and its Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030). No information or decision has been communicated around the status of official parallel events, including the 7th Cities Summit, but announcements will follow shortly based on discussions between the SCBD and the Canadian government.

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