The Convention on Biological Diversity is currently working on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. To advance the preparations of the framework, the first meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group was held in Nairobi, gathering over 500 delegates and observers – and Dr. Aino Kulonen from the MRI Coordination Office was one of them. To ensure that mountain specific issues will be included in the framework, a Policy Brief on mountains was launched and mountain countries were invited to collaborate to achieve this goal.

2020 marks the end of the current Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Significant and comprehensive scientific evidence of dangerous biodiversity decline and the threat it poses to quality of life from the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services leaves countries with the challenging task of providing a new framework which should meet the three objectives of the CBD: 1) the conservation of biodiversity, 2) the sustainable use of its components, and 3) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

After the almost complete failure to meet the Aichi Targets, a fundamental and rapid change is needed. Preparation work for a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is now underway and the negotiations will culminate at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October 2020, where the new framework will be adopted by the Conference of the Parties.

First meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group

An Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) was established to update the strategic plan and advance the preparation of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The first meeting of the OEWG was held 27-30 August 2019 at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 500 delegates were in attendance, representing parties of the convention, UN specialised agencies, governmental and non-governmental organisations, academia, local communities and indigenous peoples, women, youth, and business. The aim of this first OEWG meeting was to discuss the preparation process and the scope and structure of the framework. The need to mainstream biodiversity and the importance of studying the synergies with other relevant international frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Sendai Framework, came up regularly during the discussions. Also, the key role of communication and the inclusion of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and local communities, women, and youth, were stressed. A key output of the meeting is a non-paper of possible elements of the framework, reflecting perspectives of participants and a preliminary list of meetings, consultations, and workshops for the development of the framework. The second and third meetings of the OEWG will take place in February 2020 in China and in July 2020 in Colombia.

Policy brief: Elevating Mountains in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

On the first day of the meeting, an informal lunch gathering of mountain countries and actors was called together by UN Environment and its collaborators.* The aim of the meeting was to present latest scientific evidence and to seek further political support for the inclusion of mountains in the list of thematic priorities within the Post-2020 discussions. Aino Kulonen from the MRI Coordination Office presented the latest news in mountain biodiversity research, giving scientific evidence for why mountains matter and need to be included in the global framework, in collaboration with Eva Spehn from the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment, Johannes Refisch from Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), and Klaudia Kuras from the Carpathian Convention.

A policy brief – Elevating Mountains in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – was launched and shared with focal points. The brief highlights mountain regions as unique biodiversity hotspots, the importance of mountain ecosystems and the services they provide for more than half of the global population, and their vulnerability. “We decided to act now because mountains matter as ecosystems. These are one of the first ecosystems to really ‘signal’ to us the effects of climate change, and as such are rather critical,” said Musonda Mumba, Head of the UN Environment’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Programme. She continues, “Just because mountains are seemingly ‘out of sight’ this doesn’t mean they or their important biodiversity should be ignored.”  

“The intention of this brief was to equip – and also remind – mountain countries of the unique biodiversity in their hands, drawing on key thematic areas and inspiring countries to take political action within the Post-2020 discussions. The presentation of the brief was well-received by several mountain countries, and we hope it will be also reflected in the discussions to come,” said Matthias Jurek of the UN Environment Vienna Office. “We very much appreciate the inputs received by the science community, in particular through the MRI and GMBA.”

Nairobi Meeting Two Matthias Jurek of UN Environment

Matthias Jurek from UN Environment presenting the Policy Brief during the lunch gathering in Nairobi.

Next Steps

 “The open-ended working group meetings, including the upcoming one in China in February 2020, provide an important opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the biodiversity targets and indicators that will follow the Aichi Targets,” said Björn Alfthan from GRID-Arendal. “As the biodiversity framework starts taking shape in 2020, we will be analysing where and how mountain biodiversity can be further integrated in more specific ways – through the wording of possible specific (sub)targets, and how to measure them effectively through indicators, building on the established global framework. There was a lot of interesting debate about how to structure the Post-2020 framework in Nairobi, but one thing which shines through is the need for ‘transformative change’. This is a big, fuzzy word, and perhaps confusing to many, but what it basically means is that incremental change, as in small changes bit by bit, does not really work. We need a more fundamental change in our society in order to halt biodiversity loss.” 

Matthias Jurek from UN Environment concluded: “The mountain research community, across both the physical and social sciences, has a big role to play in providing the tools and monitoring methods, while also playing a role in envisioning what transformative change really means for mountains. We look forward to tapping into the experience of the MRI, GMBA, and your respective networks.”  

Musonda Mumba also stressed the role of scientific community: “I would like to let the research community know that their work matters. Without credible science, policymakers cannot make informed decisions.”

Nairobi Meeting Three Discussions

How to contribute to scientific discussion and biodiversity agendas and frameworks:

  • The World Biodiversity Forum, which will be organized in Davos, Switzerland 23-28 February 2020, will offer a global platform for ex­change, cov­er­ing a wide range of per­spec­tives, and cap­tur­ing a di­ver­si­ty of vi­sions. It aims to re­de­fine and set the agen­da for bio­di­ver­si­ty as a fo­cal point over the next 10 years in cur­rent themes and top­ics across sec­tors. In this, the Fo­rum sup­ports the ‘New Deal for Na­ture’ to be forged by the Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­si­ty at the end of 2020. It is aligned with Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, the achieve­ment of which will re­quire the in­volve­ment of all sec­tors/so­ci­etal ac­tors, so­ci­etal con­sen­sus, and a col­lec­tive search for so­lu­tions to con­serve bio­di­ver­si­ty.

    The MRI is hosting three sessions at this Forum with a focus on mountain environments. The call for abstracts is open until 10 November.

    More information at the WBF homepage.

Further reading:

View and download the Policy Brief: Elevating Mountains in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

More information on Post 2020 Framework.

More information on all documents of the meetings of the OEWG.

A summary of the meeting prepared by the IISD Reporting Services is available here.

*The meeting was organized jointly by UN Environment (UNEP), Great Apes Survival Partnership (UN-GRASP), Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Government of Austria, Carpathian Convention, GRID-Arendal, Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) and UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC).


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