Canada-based EcoAct Analysts, Carina Suleiman and Oliver Bassel attended the World Biodiversity Summit held alongside the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) last week. This summit drew together a select crowd of about 300 representatives from around the world to discuss the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and the implications of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Carina and Oliver share some of their key takeaways from the summit, and what this new framework means for biodiversity.
The goal of COP15 was to agree on a 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework. As mentioned in our blog earlier this month, the stakes were high but expectations were low. However, in a surprising outcome after two weeks of intense negotiations a framework was finally agreed on. Nearly 200 countries signed the agreement (though neither the US or the Vatican signed). This new framework includes the adoption of a 30×30 target protecting 30% of terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas by 2030. This was a great sign of progress and gives us much needed optimism for the future of our climate.
The World Biodiversity Summit was held alongside COP15 and aimed to bring together a variety of participants. Big corporates and small businesses, legislators and indigenous leaders met to discuss the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, and the implications of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Through panel discussions, fireside chats, and keynote speeches, participants discussed topics such as the circular economy, regenerative agriculture, equitable access to biodiversity solutions, and sustainable forest management.
Who were the key stakeholders present at the World Biodiversity Summit and what were their recommendations to the COP15 delegates?
The summit hosted representatives from large corporations like L’Oréal and Nestlé, alongside indigenous leaders, academics and policymakers. These key stakeholders gathered to provide feedback to the COP negotiators. Catherine Stewart, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, kicked off the conversation discussing the need for the private sector to disclose nature-based information. Canada joined the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) last year and is making these disclosures mandatory for certain corporations. This is similar to their newly announced requirement for Crown corporations to adopt the TCFD reporting framework by 2024 at the latest, something not included in the Global Biodiversity framework but necessary for individual countries to incorporate to meet the goals of the commitment.
There was a collective emphasis on urgency and the need for a tangible output (i.e. a framework or deal), along with concrete targets and a plan of implementation that biodiversity has not yet been afforded. Because of its complexity in quantifying impacts, compared to climate, implementing disclosures on biodiversity has historically been slow. Conversations at the Summit centered around the importance of beginning implementations of some sort before it is too late. Even though the new framework might not be perfect, it is a historic and essential step in the right direction to protect our planet.
What were some of the most impactful panels at the World Biodiversity Summit?
The importance of indigenous partnerships and leadership was a key topic of conversation. Atossa Soltani, the Director of Global Strategy, Amazon Sacred Headwater Initiative led a panel with representatives from L’Oréal, along with the territories coordinator at CONFENIAE as well as the founder of the Age of Union Alliance. They discussed the urgency for the implementation for biodiversity, creating solutions that have the greatest impact for indigenous communities and how to create ways for corporations and businesses to understand their needs. Under the new framework, Canada announced a $800M fund, Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) that will go towards supporting Indigenous-led conservation projects.
Another panel on regenerative agriculture, led by ElIane Ubalijoro, Executive Board Member on Crop Trust had representatives from Rainforest Alliance, Clarmondial, Nestlé and Nutrien discussed the role of nature-positive solutions and how to support regenerative agriculture. A big takeaway was a need for short-term funding and a need for subsidies for biodiversity. If farmers are expected to do more for biodiversity, then barriers need to be limited. Therefore, something like a food security fund can provide faster funding in the short-term. One point that the panel strongly agreed on was the need for transparency in supply chains, knowledge sharing, and that this kind of change cannot happen in silos.
What are the implications for businesses?
In a panel on Cross-Sector Collaboration, a CDP representative discussed the need for cross-sector communication with clients in order to create frameworks. We may see some development around advanced biodiversity disclosures through the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) with the reporting framework in future CDP disclosures as was done with TCFD in 2017.
COP27 did not live up to expectations in terms of biodiversity with only a single day dedicated to addressing it and few outcomes. COP15 surprised us with a critical agreement. Existing climate goals for biodiversity are limited and the hope for this framework is to steer us in the right direction. Surrounding conversations like those had at the World Biodiversity Summit are crucial because they have the power to strongly influence these decisions and continue progress outside of this agreement. One definite outcome of this summit is that biodiversity disclosures are coming, and companies need to be prepared.
EcoAct is relieved to see this framework signed. We believe this will provide us with the pathway needed to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. However, the work is just beginning. Now is the time to implement these changes and for governments, businesses and other key stakeholders to work to meet these targets.