This article is written by Nikita Singh, a student of BBA LLB from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA. In this article, the author has discussed the important aspects of the post-2020 global diversity framework of the UN Convention on Biological Biodiversity.
Biodiversity or biological diversity refers to all the varieties of life forms that exist on earth. All living things on earth are a part of biodiversity and have their own significance. Conservation, sustainable use and equitable distribution of biodiversity are the three main priorities to be maintained by the convention on biodiversity for stable biodiversity. The idea of having an international body for biodiversity emerged from the meeting of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) in 1988. A conference was held for the ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ in 1992.
It came into force on 29 December 1993. The Convention was approved and from 1992-93, many countries signed it and became the signatory members of the Convention. India was also among one of the signatory members as it ratified the treaty in 1994 in the Bahamas. The latest meeting was scheduled in 2020, COP 15 which got cancelled due to coronavirus disease. The meeting got postponed and it was announced that it will be held in two phases, one from 11-15 October 2021 (virtually) and the second from 25 April-8 May 2022 in Kunming (China).
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is a multilateral treaty (nearly 196 countries have ratified). It focuses upon the three main elements- protection of biodiversity, sustainable use and fair distribution.
Need for laws preserving biodiversity
Biodiversity is very important for leading a healthy life. It is the indicator of the level of life we are living. Biodiversity helps in controlling the harms like pollution, deforestation, land degradation, etc. Earthquakes, pollution and landslides become more devastating due to deforestation, the GHGs emissions increase due to deforestation, the low production on agricultural land due to overusing of that land for higher production, the rise of extinction of aquatic animals due to water pollution and building dams, etc. These are very vital problems that need to be dealt with effectively.
So, rules for preserving biodiversity are most important to lead a healthy and sustainable life. Without any laws and proper regulation, the problems like overfishing, pollution, deforestation, etc cannot be controlled. There must be strict rules for the protection of biodiversity. The reports on biodiversity extinction, threat, and endangered rates are very shocking. A recent UN report on biodiversity by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) pointed out during the 7th session of IPBES that nearly 1 million species are on the verge of extinction because of human activities.
The report mentioned various factors for this extinction and suggested ways to prevent the extinction. The report promotes the use of nature-based solutions in urban areas, use of water management policies to avoid soil erosion in freshwater systems, use of multifunctional land planning in agriculture, etc. These laws are the need of the hour. People are facing a crisis worldwide due to human activities.
Article 14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity provides that the contracting parties must make provisions for biodiversity and also mentions the liability of the parties if there is a failure or anything not appropriate on their part. Laws should be made for preserving biodiversity in an effective manner. Following are the key reasons why we need laws for preserving biodiversity:
- To lead a sustainable and quality life.
- To keep the food chain and food web functional so that the existing species can survive and share their own space for living.
- To maintain a balanced economic growth. Both rural and urban people depend on nature directly or indirectly. So, if nature is not safeguarded, then it will cause a hindrance to the development of the people.
- To maintain atmosphere quality. Reduce GHGs, Carbon and other polluted gases emissions, etc.
- To control disasters due to human activities. For example- Landslides are more devastating if there is deforestation.
Features of the post-2020 framework
This post-2020 framework sets a target of going ‘nature positive’ in the coming decade and considers this framework as a ‘now or never’ opportunity for nature. The Post-2020 framework of CBD includes a set of systematic rules and regulations to be followed by the parties.
1. In the first draft released by the UN Secretariat of CBD mentioned the framework to guide the actions for biodiversity up to 2030. It contains 21 targets and 10 milestones to be achieved by 2030. These targets are complementary to the 2050 vision of biodiversity. The key targets are mentioned below:
- Conservation of the 30% land and sea areas which have a biodiversity significance.
- Net increase of connectivity and integrity of the natural ecosystems by at least 15%.
- Reduce the rate of introduction of invasive alien species by 50%. Invasive alien species are the species which cause a threat to biodiversity.
- Reduce pesticides and plastic wastes.
- Use eco-friendly and sustainable measures for development.
- Reduce incentives that are harmful to biodiversity. (at least by 500 billion per year).
- Increase financial resources to provide for developing countries for effective biodiversity management.
- Meeting the needs of people by sustainable use of biodiversity.
- Effective rules, regulations, policies, governance must be implemented to achieve the set targets.
2. Inclusion of the voices of indigenous, local, sub-local levels for better understanding and effective implementation.
3. Theory of change by the cooperation of government and society. Contribution by making effective legislations and contribution by women, child, man and old age persons at an indigenous, local, regional or national level.
4. The post-2020 framework has focused on BirdLife and is on COP 15’s agenda.
5. Financial, Scientific and Technological Co-operation.
6. Responsibility of the countries to make provisions for biodiversity and then analyse the consequences of the implementation of such provisions. Setting up national targets and reporting the progress over time.
7. Spreading awareness among people about the benefits of biodiversity. Impart knowledge about biodiversity, spread the post-2020 framework among the masses through various platforms like media, campaigns, rallies, etc. Nature must be valued and its benefit must be given to all the people.
The post-2020 framework will help in achieving the 2050 vision of CBD, that is, ‘Living in harmony with nature”. This framework will replace the ‘Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020’ which failed because it didn’t work out for the conservation of biodiversity.
Importance of multilateral and bilateral agreements on biodiversity
Agreements on biodiversity are most important for discussing the issues on biodiversity. Biodiversity is something that has a global scope, so mutual agreements between countries are very significant. It has an impact on the actions of countries in the world. For conserving biodiversity, combined action is required. A country cannot control and protect the biodiversity of the earth, so cooperation is necessary for the formation of various agreements.
Bilateral agreements are those agreements that are between two countries and multilateral agreements are between more than 2 countries. Both bilateral and multilateral agreements have an influence on each other. Multilateral agreements guide global, sub-global, regional, local laws. The multilateral agreement, for instance, the CBD covers the goals 2, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 of Sustainable Development Goals. The importance of multilateral and bilateral agreements on biodiversity are mentioned below:
- They form an international legal basis for global efforts to issue biodiversity issues.
- These are ‘soft laws’ which help in guiding the local, regional, national and global actions.
- Most of these agreements show positive outcomes and help in achieving the targets of biodiversity.
- These provide a clear roadmap and mechanism which need to be followed for achieving the targets of biodiversity.
2050 vision of the CBD
The 2050 vision of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is ‘Living in harmony with nature’. The 2050 vision is consistent with the 2030 agenda of CBD. Before the 2050 vision, there was a strategic plan for biodiversity from 2011-2020 including Aichi biodiversity targets which failed due to a decline in biodiversity. The strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020 was taken into consideration during COP10 in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. COP 10 was one of the most significant conferences on biodiversity. The 2050 vision of CBD was agreed upon in COP 10. The key features are mentioned below:
- Keeping a healthy planet and delivering benefits of nature to all the people.
- Making policies for climate change, pollution, overexploitation, habitat loss, land degradation, etc. Engagement at all local, regional, national, global levels is needed.
- Making socio-economic objectives and plannings for biodiversity loss prevention.
- Conserving biodiversity through sustainable development.
- Promote eco-friendly ways of development.
- Planning at local, regional, national and global levels for sustainable use of biodiversity.
Moreover, all the targets of 2050 visions are parallel to the post-2020 framework features and 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Barriers to the accomplishment of present goals
The barriers to the accomplishment of the present goals of biodiversity are mentioned below:
- The CBD sets goals for the future but doesn’t study the different situations of different countries. There is still the need for baseline research of data in some regions of the world regarding the biodiversity available. The action plan for the countries differs as there is different biodiversity in different regions of the world. The ground reality of each country needs to be considered.
- The other barrier to the accomplishment of the present goals is a lack of awareness among the people. The Convention is supposed to have ‘local roots and global reach’ but the local roots or local areas are mostly ignored. There is no awareness in the backward regions of the countries like rural areas, tribal areas, etc. People in the backward areas still do the hunting, killing of animals, cutting of plants for firewood and selling, etc. This practise needs to be stopped by spreading awareness.
- There is a need for strict legislation in areas where biodiversity is in threat. Mere making rules would not be sufficient if there is no protection for biodiversity. The impact of the legislation needs to be analysed and amendments need to be done if needed.
- The other barrier is no inspection, supervision over the policies of the member countries. Due to the lack of such inspections, countries don’t make any strict rules on emissions, pollutants, etc. and if there is proper inspection, the countries find the provisions strict and the targets nearly impossible to achieve, so they try to escape from that convention.
- Lack of finances in the developing and undeveloped countries to provide for effective implementation of the biodiversity laws.
Biodiversity is the most critical aspect of human life and it needs to be protected. In modern times, wherein biodiversity is degraded in the name of development, it is an urgent urge to the people at the global level to start preserving diversity. Development along with the preservation of biodiversity is necessary. Convention on Biological Biodiversity is a great initiative at a global level. The countries are setting up targets but unfortunately, these targets are not achieved because of barriers in their way.
The most important barriers are unawareness among people and setting up unreal targets. The biodiversity conventions like CBD should consider all the factors at the local, regional, national and global levels and then with the help of effective governance should go ahead with setting and achieving their targets. The citizens and the government should have to join hands at the global level for the preservation of biodiversity to have a better tomorrow.
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