CBD Member Countries Push to Operationalise Nagoya Package

5 November 2012

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have advanced processes to help operationalise the ambitious Nagoya package they agreed to in 2010. Like previous CBD bi-annual meetings, the CBD's 11th Conference of the Parties (COP) stretched on late into the night of the final day in Hyderabad, India as delegates pushed to reach consensus. By the close of the 8-19 October meeting, the COP had adopted 33 decisions on a range of issues related to finance, budget, substance, and administration.

Clinched after a marathon of negotiations at COP 10 in Japan, the Nagoya package was notable for delegates' determination to strike a deal (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 8 November 2010). The meeting surprised many, when after twelve days of up and down discussions, delegates agreed to a new Strategic Plan, the implementation of the Resource Mobilization Strategy and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS).

Despite the ambitious deal, little action has taken place in the way of implementing the commitments over the past two years. As a result, many observers called this year's Hyderabad COP an opportunity to change gears from commitment to action. To emphasise the need to advance to a new stage, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the CBD's Executive Secretary announced in Hyderabad that post-2010 is about three priorities: "implementation, implementation, implementation."

However, as with many contemporary international agreements looking to turn planning into action, the issue of financing formed the backdrop to the discussions. While numerous substantive issues were clinched well before the last day of COP 11, it was telling that finance and budget issues were what monopolised the agenda on the final day of the meeting, pulling discussions into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Key decisions agreed to in Hyderabad addressed the status of the Nagoya Protocol, implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 including the "Aichi targets" (agreed to at COP 10), and implementation of the "strategy for resource mobilisation" (agreed to at COP 8 in Curitiba, Brazil). Other issues on the agenda included the financial mechanism, general CBD operations, Article 8(j) concerning traditional knowledge, biodiversity and climate change, costal biodiversity, and a range of other crosscutting issues.

The final agreement sets out a plan to double biodiversity-related financing to developing countries by 2015, to be maintained at such a level until 2020. Targets were also established to improve biodiversity baseline information as well as a preliminary reporting framework for monitoring resource mobilization. COP 12 will then review progress with a view to adopting the final target for resource mobilization.

With the coffers of developed countries strained by widespread economic hardships, the financing issue will likely be one of the best remembered issues of COP 11. First, host country India announced a US$50 million contribution to reaching the Aichi targets. The 20 targets are split into five strategic groupings meant to address the causes of biodiversity loss; reduce pressure on biodiversity; safeguard ecosystems, species and genetic diversity; enhance the benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services; and enhance implementation.

The move surprised many, primarily due to India's recent record on global environmental issues, including a reluctance to accept mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and New Delhi's reluctance to allow its airlines to participate in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 16 April 2012).

"In recent years, it has become increasingly more difficult to find common ground on environmental issues," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on 16 October. "This is, indeed, unfortunate given that there is today a much higher global awareness of environmental risks and concerns."

The role of developing country participation in financing was underscored further when funds to hold the next working group meeting on traditional knowledge (article 8(j)) were offered by the Africa Group and India. According to Earth Negotiations Bulletin, this was the first time in the history of the CBD that developing countries have made such an offer.

Delegates at COP 11 also managed to begin work on addressing the biodiversity aspects of the UN's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation "plus" (REDD+) initiative. Initial negotiations proved difficult, with developing countries expressing their reluctance to commit to a process that could result in additional conditionalities by REDD+ donors. Ultimately, however, countries were reportedly satisfied with the final language adopted in Hyderabad.

The possible negative biodiversity effects of trade were addressed briefly at the COP, with several countries expressing the need to address biosecurity in connection to the role of invasive alien species, including those introduced as pets, aquarium and terrarium species, and as live bait and live food. The possibility of renewing the CBD's application for observer status in the WTO's Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) was also floated. The final COP decision encourages governments to address invasive species threats, invites consideration of the CBD application for observer status in the WTO's SPS Committee, and requests the CBD Secretariat to help countries tackle the issue on global scale.

In essence, many observers have referred to Hyderabad as a "transitional" COP. Countries were charged with demonstrating that they were serious about the commitments they had signed off on in Nagoya. While there is a general consensus that COP 11 helped move the process forward, some say they are concerned about the slow pace of implementation.

The CBD's 12th Conference of the Parties will be held in 2014 in South Korea. The specific location has not yet been released.

ICTSD Reporting; "Summary of the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity," EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN, 22 October 2012; "India Pledges Millions for Global Biodiversity," THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 October 2012.

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