The first day of the UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference kicked off on Wednesday with a plenary opening session and parties approving the agenda for the next two weeks.
During COP15, delegates will negotiate the new Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as other matters related to the UN CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity).
The conference will be split into two parallel sessions for its entirety. These sessions are known as working groups and everything they decide needs to be approved at the final plenary, which takes place at the end of the conference.
The chairs of these two working groups have already indicated that, in the interests of time, they will limit or disallow interventions at the opening of some agenda items and, instead, send them straight to contact groups or friends of the chair, which is a bit more restrictive.
In other cases, they will already table conference room papers on the basis of the outcomes of SBSTTA (Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice) discussions, essentially skipping the first round of interventions on these as well.
According to colleagues at the Wildlife Fund, each working group will set up contact groups to facilitate the negotiations.
The first three parallel contact groups started one on mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review; another on the Cartagena protocol, risk assessment and risk management (articles 15 and 16); and the third on resource mobilisation.
Parties are looking like they will take a pragmatic step to increase the pace of the negotiations that may allow them to make urgently needed progress and increase their chances of agreeing a clear path at COP15 toward a final packaged deal on financing.
It was also observed at the conference that, for the first time, parties are finally starting to reach out to each other more proactively, for informal dialogue to find areas of convergence and compromise.
Day 2 of the conference will see parties start to negotiate the monitoring framework for the post- 2020 GBF in earnest. Negotiations on DSI will continue.
The evening will be important for the oceans with negotiations on conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity and on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas.
Commenting on what needs to be agreed on finance at COP15, Florian Titze, policy adviser for International Biodiversity Policy at WWF Germany, said that “governments need to realise that in a world without biodiversity, there will be no well-being, health, prosperity or security for people – nor will our economic and financial systems be able to function.
“A strong increase of overseas development aid on biodiversity will be critical to agree on a deal at COP15. The 10-point plan launched in September is an excellent example of what a comprehensive approach could look like, and we need more countries supporting this. Now is the time for shifting gears because we need to make progress on this fast, if we’re to have any shot of securing a nature-positive world,” said Titze.