Governments Vow To Double Biodiversity Finance And Expand Protection Of Oceans

Kelli Barrett

lobal biodiversity talks have wrapped up in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a pledge to double financial flows to biodiversity protection by 2015 and to expand coverage of the world’s oceans. Cities and sub-national governments also expressed growing support for global biodiversity protection measures.

17 October 2014  During the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 12), a United Nations backed report noted a major funding gap in global biodiversity conservation. Delegates may have well taken this into account because they agreed to double financial resources to biodiversity protection.

COP 12 wrapped up today in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Finance was the primary subject of this meeting with delegates citing some serious statistics.

“The cost of inaction to halt biodiversity decline would give rise to increasing and cumulative economic annual losses to the value of around US $14 trillion by 2050,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “From food and water security to livelihoods and disaster risk reduction, biodiversity is a powerful engine that underpins the delivery of current and future sustainable development objectives.

Governments stressed the importance of sustainable development-the COP’s theme. The doubled funds will flow mainly to least developed countries and small island developing states, as well as countries with economies in transition by 2015. The level of finance will be maintained until 2020 at least. Internally, governments also agreed to increase domestic financing.

Aside from the ramped up financial commitment to the CBD’s Strategic Plan, delegates devoted efforts to a marine agenda. Now with the progress made in COP-11, nearly 75% of the world’s oceans have been assessed scientifically. During COP 12, parties addressed anthropogenic underwater noise and ocean acidification, and encouraged action to enhance knowledge regarding these threats and to mitigate their impacts on marine and coastal biodiversity. Actions to address these risks include capacity building workshops and collaborative activities within the Sustainable Ocean Initiative.

The COP also reviewed the results of seven regional workshops on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) and encouraged efforts and collaboration to address knowledge gaps and lack of scientific information regarding these areas.

The marine biodiversity agenda also meant a refocus on Aichi Biodiversity Target 10 for coral reefs and closely associated ecosystems. Focusing on their resilience, actions include reducing land based pollution, promoting sustainable fisheries and improving the design of marine protected area networks for coral reefs. The socioeconomics of reef ecosystems was addressed as well in the form of incentives for coral reef conservation and poverty reduction programs.

Host of COP 12, the Republic of South Korea, announced its support for marine conservation through additional support of the Sustainable Ocean Initiative. The nation also announced three new projects in support of global biodiversity: the Biobridge Initiative in support of technical and scientific cooperation, the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI), and the Peace and Biodiversity Dialogue Initiative in support of trans-boundary cooperation. The latter is particularly significant to South Korea because of its demilitarized zone with North Korea. The area is believed to be very biologically diverse. The South Korean prime minister called on North Korea as well as the world to help preserve it.

Reaffirming commitment to achieving the Strategic Plan, especially after the UN-backed report noting the funding gap and the World Wildlife Fund study citing humans as the cause of a 52% decline in wildlife since 1970, was a positive point.

“Parties at COP 12 agreed on a set of indicators that will guide the implementation and assessment of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, said Saulo Ceolin, the head of Brazil’s Environment Division in the Ministry of External Affairs referring to the 20 targets that make up the heart of the CBD’s strategy to halt biodiversity loss. “This set of indicators will help in the mainstreaming of the debate on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at the national level.

Another highlight for many attending the COP was adoption of the Gangwon Declaration, which is a consortium of cities and subnational governments committing to achieving the CBD’s Strategic Plan.

“It reflects a strong message from the Parties that the importance of biodiversity should be highlighted in the Post-2015 Development Agenda said Yoon Seong-kyu, the Minister of Environment for the Republic of Korea. “ We are planning to report and submit it to the UN General Assembly.

Parties also adopted decisions to strengthen the role of business, subnational and local governments, and stakeholders, as well as how to more effectively consider gender in implementation of the Convention.

Parts of this story have been adapted from the CBD’s closing press release, which is available here.

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