The UN conference on biodiversity (COP15) concluded its first stage of negotiations this Friday (15) in China, which coordinates efforts to reach an agreement that improves nature protection and allows for greater financial commitments.
COP15 has the goal of announcing a global protection framework to preserve ecosystems, which are fundamental for having clean water, clean air, food and raw materials, by 2030. And to be able to “live in harmony with nature” in 2050.
The protection of nature, which for a long time was considered a minor issue, is (slowly) gaining ground on the international political agenda.
The first stage of COP15 took place in the Chinese city of Kunming (southwest), largely by videoconference. The second part is expected to take place in 2022 and the authorities are expecting a face-to-face event. The virtual format was adopted due to the coronavirus pandemic. A pre-meeting will be organized in Switzerland.
On Wednesday, the conference adopted the Kunming Declaration, a text promoted by China that defends ideas such as “ecological civilization”.
In part, the text takes up the objectives that the 196 member countries of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) will negotiate in January in Geneva, in the introduction of the second part of the COP15.
The statement reflects the goal of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030, but does not specify whether Beijing supports it.
This position “gives us an idea of the kind of leadership that China is proposing,” Greenpeace’s Li Shuo told AFP.
China, which officially president of COP15 since Monday, “has an extremely important role”, explains Lin Li, from the WWF.
“The host country’s leadership is essential for a fruitful result, defines the level of ambition necessary to solve the biodiversity crisis and builds the necessary alliances for this objective”, adds Li.
It also recalls that China has made important commitments in the fight against climate change.
For Julien Rochette, from the French center IDDRI, this declaration allows “to regain the political momentum that we would like to see translated into the text of the negotiations”.
– Next step: Geneva –
In addition, COP15 registered the presentation of programs to finance the protection of biodiversity. China announced a US$233 million fund for developing countries. And Japan promised to inject nearly 16 million dollars.
The French Development Agency (AFD) calculates the economic needs to protect biodiversity between 722 billion and 967 billion dollars by 2030, but highlights that only 124 billion to 143 billion dollars are dedicated to the topic. And another $500 billion goes to subsidies that harm nature.
The announcements are a “shy beginning”, considers Li Shuo, from Greenpeace, who calls for transparency in Chinese funds: “how it will be managed, how it will complete the financial instruments that already exist and for how long”. For some countries, the Global Environment Facility (WEF) is the most appropriate tool to finance actions in favor of biodiversity.
All eyes are now on Geneva and the two and a half weeks of face-to-face negotiations. “But we lack commitments, we won’t have a strong plan to protect biodiversity in the spring (northern hemisphere) if we don’t build from now on”, warns Shuo.
There is doubt about the organization of the second part of the COP in China. Some analysts consider it unlikely that the country will risk welcoming thousands of people from across the planet to the talks due to fears of covid-19. Some believe that the meeting could be transferred to Montreal (Canada). For others, on the contrary, Beijing can gain a victory if it organizes the COP as planned.
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