The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) on biological diversity will be held in Montreal, Canada, from December 7th – 19th, 2022.
Despite being called in a similar manner, the upcoming COP 15 is different from COP 27 which was held last November in Egypt. Basically, the term COP which stands for “Conference of the Parties”, is a term used to describe an international summit that brings together all the signatories or parties of a convention in order to discuss and adopt decisions that will advance the implementation of the convention. While COP 15 and COP 27 are both related to sustainable development, the main difference between them is that they are focused on two different conventions.
The upcoming COP 15 which will be held in Montreal is aimed at advancing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); while the recent COP 27 was instead focused on advancing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In other words, the upcoming COP 15 will be focused on biodiversity, while the recent COP27 was focused on Climate Change.
The Need for A Convention on Biological Diversity
Nature provides humans with numerous benefits called Ecosystem Services. Some of these benefits include providing the food we eat, cleaning the air we breathe, filtering the water we drink, preventing erosion, etc., These numerous services are vital for the economic and social prosperity of humans, but their provision is dependent on the wellbeing of ecosystems. Furthermore, the well-being of ecosystems demands biological diversity. Unfortunately, human activities pose a severe threat to this biological diversity and inhibit the proper functioning of ecosystems. Human activities have led to the extinction of several species, and consequently, affect nature’s capacity to provide its Ecosystem Services to present and future generations.
In order to address this issue, the United Nations decided to establish the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to be used as an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) came into effect on December 29th, 1993, and currently has 193 parties. It has 3 main objectives which include:
- The conservation of biological diversity
- The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
- The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
Meetings of the Conference of the Parties
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Convention, that is, the ultimate authority of all parties that have ratified the convention. The COP holds periodic meetings (such as the upcoming COP 15) to evaluate progress, set priorities, and establish work plans to advance the convention. Since the enforcement of the CBD to date, 14 ordinary meetings of the Conference of the Parties have taken place, and these meetings are normally held every two years. Unfortunately, previous COP meetings have a track record of over-promising and under-delivering. For example, the 2010 Biodiversity Target, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which were adopted during COP 6 and COP 10 respectively, were not fully met by their 2020 deadline. On the contrary, biodiversity continues to decline around the world.
What to Expect from COP 15?
The main focus of the COP 15 in Montreal is to conclude negotiations and decide on the new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. At the end of this summit, the aim is to adopt this new framework, which will provide “a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade”.
With such an ambitious aim, comes a number of challenges which will need to be addressed in the course of this conference. One of these challenges is the need to agree on how funds will be mobilized to implement the new framework, especially for countries in the Global South with limited resources. Other key issues which will need to be addressed in the course of this summit relate to the setting of targets, the monitoring and reporting of progress on the new framework; as well as the urgent need to involve Indigenous people in biodiversity initiatives.
Unlike the previous COP meetings, it is my hope that the outcomes of COP 15 will be achieved, and will significantly address the issue of biodiversity loss, and enhance nature’s capacity to provide its benefits to present and future generations.
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