Special Report: Understanding the Nagoya Biodiversity Talks

The "International Year of Biodiversity" has been a flop thus far, with species loss continuing at an alarming rate.  Delegates to biodiversity talks under the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) hope to change that by coming up with a ten-year plan to halt species loss by 2020.  That’s their job over the next two weeks in Nagoya, Japan, and Ecosystem Marketplace is there.

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15 October 2010 | 2010 may officially be the UN’s “International Year of Biodiversity”, but cynics have been tacking on the word “Loss” ever since the slogan debuted in 2006.   As 2010 draws to a close, that cynicism appears quite prescient.

“Not since the dinosaurs died out has Earth suffered such a rapid loss of plants, animals, and ecosystems,” says a recent report from insurance giant Allianz. “Our destruction of nature could be even more costly than our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Therein, of course, lies one key to the solution.   Nature’s living ecosystems are worth more alive than dead, and not just because they’re nice to look at.   Healthy ecosystems filter our water, protect our coasts, and regulate our climate, which means the apparent conflict between economic growth and ecological health is a false one.  

Degradation continues because our current economic system fails to account for the long-term ecosystem services lost in our quest for short-term gains.   Fill that hole, and you take a giant step towards fixing the problem.

We can fill the hole by incorporating the cost of nature’s destruction into the current cost of production – an argument that the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) made quite effectively in its Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 Report (GBO 3).

The GBO 3 explores in detail the economic benefits of wetlands (which filter and regulate water), mangroves (which do all that wetlands do, and also protect shorelines and sequester carbon), and other systems that are often destroyed to make way for new development.   It then compares the short-term benefits with the long-term loss, to chilling effect.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity consortium (TEEB) makes the same argument in its series of “TEEB” reports for business and policymakers.   They’ve issued three reports so far this year, and a fourth is set for release next week in Nagoya, Japan.

That’s where delegates from the 193 parties to the CBD are meeting for the CBD’s 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10), which aims to chart a course for the next decade.

CBD boss Ahmed Djoghlaf has vowed that his time, the course will include financing mechanisms, and Ecosystem Marketplace is covering events on a daily basis in partnership with the Global Canopy Programme, which has just released a comprehensive and accessible list of financing mechanisms called the Little Biodiversity Financing Book.

COP 10 officially starts on Monday, which is when we’ll begin daily coverage of talks and side events.   For now, here’s a look back on key stories from the past nine months.

-The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected].

Understanding the CBD

What you Need to Know
The Convention on Biological Diversity grew out of the same event that brought us the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but it’s gotten a lot less attention. These stories may help you get up to speed before talks begin on Monday

EM Cheat Sheet: The Convention on Biological Diversity
An inside look at the CBD – where it comes from, how it’s evolved, and where it’s been so far. Take the opportunity to examine the goals of the CBD and to note those who are putting it into action – or the countries that have yet to ratify it.

Read the article here

Keeping Track of the Nairobi Biodiversity Talks: A Guide to IISD Coverage
The 1992 Earth Summit spawned three “Rio Conventions” (on biodiversity, climate change, and desertification). With the 20th anniversary just two years away, negotiators in all three Conventions agree they should be more synchronized. Here’s a brief look at coverage from the International Institute for Sustainable Development talks that took place earlier this year:

Read the article here

Biodiversity Boosters Hope to Leverage REDD Momentum at Nairobi Meeting
The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, but the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) remains the poor (and largely forgotten) sibling to the headline-grabbing climate-change convention (UNFCCC). Delegates to CBD talks in Nairobi in May looked at schemes designed to change that, in part by embedding more biodiversity values in the global carbon market.

Read the article here

UN Biodiversity Boss Says Convergence with Carbon Markets Could Turn REDD+ Into Win-Win for Species
In 2002, the United Nations set out 20 targets to halt the decline of biodiversity by the end of this year – none of which have been met. Delegates to UN biodiversity talks in the May Nairobi were hammering out new ones, and CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf tells Ecosystem Marketplace why he believes this time will be different. Go here for the article and audio from the interview:

Read the article here

Beyond the CBD

It’s a Global Effort
Scores of entities run under the umbrella of the CBD, and scores of others are more tangential. Here are a few of these.

Mitigation Banking: The Proven Method that Works
Biodiversity finance is a radical concept in many parts of the world, but it’s a functioning reality in many parts of the United States. Here is Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest summary of mitigation banking news from across the US and around the world.

Read the article here

Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program Teaming with Local Stakeholders in Vietnam
Like all countries, Vietnam is struggling to preserve nature in the face of economic growth. Biodiversity offsets may provide one part of the solution, and were certainl a hot topic at the Seventeenth Katoomba Meeting there on June 23 and 24, 2010. Ecosystem Marketplace examines the legal status of biodiversity offsets in Vietnam and how the country hopes to get it right.

Read the article here

The Buzz on Biodiversity Banking in Europe
Those in Europe are optimistic about the expanding biodiversity market—with one person speculating that it could expand to be the size of the carbon market. Becca Madsen examines whether this optimism has a basis in fact.

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Latest TEEB Report has Something for Everyone

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Local and Regional Policy Makers is the most recent in a series of reports designed to help people incorporate the economic value of nature’s living ecosystems into our modern economy.

Read the article here

Financing and the CBD

Where the Rubber Hits the Road
Finance is the sine qua non of biodiversity protection, and here are some of the initiatives already in the works. On Monday, we’ll be letting you know about other initiatives on the agenda in the next two weeks.

New Pilot Registry Helps Users Track Conservation Credits
If ecosystem markets are to deliver environmental benefits, users need more transparency and the assurance that credits aren’t being counted twice. That’s why carbon markets have developed registries, and it’s why speciesbanking.com teamed up with other market leaders to launch a new pilot conservation registry for mitigation banking.

Read the article here

Equal Parts Hope and Despair Greet New Financing Mechanism on International Day of Diversity (Loss)

In May, UN Negotiators recognized the International Day of Biodiversity, which many called the Day of Biodiversity Loss. EM provided a glimpse of the talks and discussed the Green Development Mechanism — go here for the article and an audio clip.

Read the article here

UN LifeWeb Brings Transparency (and, hopefully, funding) to Biodiversity
The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity hasn’t yet developed a mechanism for channeling money to biodiversity hot spots the way the Framework Convention on Climate Change does for carbon emissions, but a new initiative called LifeWeb is providing market-like transparency for environmental aid and funneling millions to biodiversity hotspots based on the ecosystem services they provide.

Read the article here

Additional resources

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