Summary of the UN Biodiversity Conference
The UN Biodiversity Conference was held from 13-29 November 2018, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, under the theme “Investing in biodiversity for people and planet.” It was attended by approximately 3,800 participants representing parties, other governments, international and non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities, academia, and the private sector.
The UN Biodiversity Conference included:
•the African Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity (13 November);
•the High-level Segment of the Conference (14-15 November);
•the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 17-29 November);
•the ninth meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CP COP/MOP 9, 17-29 November);
•the third meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization (NP COP/MOP 3, 17-29 November 2018); and
•parallel meetings, side-events, and the Rio Conventions Pavilion.
The Conference adopted a number of decisions on a series of strategic, administrative, financial, and ecosystem-related issues of relevance to the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols. These included 37 decisions under the CBD COP; 16 decisions under the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP; and 16 decisions under the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP. Among the highlights, the Conference set up an intersessional open-ended working group (OEWG) on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework; established an intersessional process, including an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) to continue work on digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources under the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol; adopted the Rutzolijirisaxik voluntary guidelines for repatriation of traditional knowledge; and extended the online forum and AHTEG on synthetic biology.
A Brief History of the Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted on 22 May 1992 and opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”). The CBD entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 196 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
The COP is the governing body of the Convention, and there are currently three bodies meeting intersessional: the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA); the Working Group on Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and related provisions; and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI).
Key Turning Points
Three protocols have been adopted under the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (January 2000, Montreal, Canada) addresses the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. It entered into force on 11 September 2003 and currently has 171 parties.
The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (October 2010, Nagoya, Japan) provides for international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from LMOs. It entered into force on 5 March 2018 and currently has 42 parties.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization (ABS, October 2010, Nagoya) sets out an international framework for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and technologies, and by appropriate funding, thereby contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and currently has 114 parties.
Other major decisions have included:
•the Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biodiversity (COP 2, November 1995, Jakarta, Indonesia);
•the work programmes on agricultural and forest biodiversity (COP 3, November 1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina);
•the Global Taxonomy Initiative (COP 4, May 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia);
•work programmes on Article 8(j), dry and sub-humid lands, and incentive measures (COP 5, May 2000, Nairobi, Kenya);
•the Bonn Guidelines on ABS and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (COP 6, April 2002, The Hague, the Netherlands);
•work programmes on mountain biodiversity, protected areas, and technology transfer, the Akwé: Kon Guidelines for cultural, environmental, and social impact assessments, and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for sustainable use (COP 7, February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia);
•a work programme on island biodiversity (COP 8, March 2006, Curitiba, Brazil);
•a resource mobilization strategy, and scientific criteria and guidance for marine areas in need of protection (COP 9, May 2008, Bonn, Germany);
•the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including the Aichi Targets, and a decision on activities and indicators for the implementation of the resource mobilization strategy (COP 10, October 2010, Nagoya, Japan); and
•an interim target of doubling biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries by 2015, and at least maintaining this level until 2020, coupled with targets aiming to improve the robustness of baseline information (COP 11, October 2012, Hyderabad, India).
COP 12 (October 2014, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea) adopted a package of decisions on resource mobilization, capacity building, scientific and technical cooperation linking biodiversity and poverty eradication, and monitoring implementation of the Strategic Plan, named the “Pyeongchang Roadmap.” The meeting further adopted a plan of action on customary sustainable use of biodiversity; decided to use the terminology “indigenous peoples and local communities”; and agreed on ways to integrate the work under the Convention and its Protocols, including holding concurrent meetings.
COP 13 (December 2016, Cancún, Mexico) considered: issues related to operations of the Convention, including integration among the Convention and its Protocols; progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan and the achievement of the Aichi Targets, and related means of implementation; strategic actions to enhance the implementation of the Strategic Plan and achievement of the Aichi Targets, including with respect to mainstreaming biodiversity within and across sectors, particularly in agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and forestry; and biodiversity and human health interlinkages. It also launched consideration of a series of items on emerging technologies, including synthetic biology, gene drives, and DSI.