The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) convened a Fifth Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG-5) December 3-6, immediately followed by the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) December 7-19, 2022, in Montreal, Canada at Palais des Congrès de Montréal.
Government delegations traveled to Montreal for the final negotiations of a new global strategic framework to prevent biodiversity loss, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, or “GBF.” The framework includes four goals and twenty-three targets for achievement by 2030 pertaining to international cooperative action by governments, business and other key actors to protect and steward biodiversity. For the first time, it includes specific targets pertaining to expectations of business and consumers.
USCIB Policy Manager for Environment and Sustainable Development and Policy Lead for Biodiversity Agnes Vinblad was on the ground in Montreal for the full duration of OEWG-5 and COP-15. USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy joined Vinblad on the ground for the first week of the COP.
USCIB has been strongly engaged in the UN CBD process throughout 2022. Kennedy and Vinblad both attended OEWG-3 in Geneva in March, and Vinblad traveled to Nairobi in June to participate in OEWG-4. It was during negotiations in Nairobi that Canada was formally announced as the host for COP15, with China retaining the Presidency. This was welcomed news after two years of pandemic delays, leaving the world temporarily without a global biodiversity strategy as the prior Aichi Targets expired in 2020, according to Vinblad.
During COP15 negotiations, Vinblad followed developments related to USCIB’s priority targets determined by the USCIB Environment Committee and the USCIB Biodiversity Working Group: Target 7 (Pollution and Plastic Waste), Target 10 (Sustainable Use/Agriculture), Target 13 (Access and Benefit Sharing), Target 15 (Expectations of Business) and Target 17 (Biotechnology). COP15 saw an unprecedented business presence with close to thirty USCIB members in attendance, and a global ICC Delegation of over seventy members.
USCIB collaborated closely with ICC colleagues who were in attendance. ICC Director for Global Policy Daphne Yong-d’Hervé, and Global Policy Manager for Intellectual Property and Innovation Danny Grajales, coordinated daily business briefings each morning.
While negotiations were marked by disagreement, with many sessions running from late nights into early mornings, parties managed to overcome their differences to successfully adopt the long-awaited Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The framework represents an opportunity for all stakeholders, including business, to come together to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
Commenting on the newly agreed GBF, Vinblad said, “The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework serves as an opportunity for business to lead the charge on responsible use of ecosystem services with the ambition of restoring and reversing biodiversity loss on a global scale. Looking at Target 15, which pertains specifically to business responsibilities and reporting on nature risks and dependencies, USCIB welcomes the language contained in the finalized text as it allows for adequate flexibility down on national level, which is critical for business to be able to meaningfully take action.”
As final thoughts, Vinblad added that, “USCIB is looking forward to staying involved in the UN CBD process as countries now will move toward the implementation stage for the GBF, where there will be a special focus on the agreed decision to establish a global benefit sharing mechanism. While the U.S. is not a party to the CBD, many of our members operate transnationally and USCIB will continue working together to support U.S. business to best enable their efforts to leverage innovation to champion the sustainable use of biodiversity.”