A primer to UN’s global biodiversity outlook 5 mechanisms to protect nature, ecosystem and humankind
The Global Biodiversity Outlook is the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993, 90 days after the 30th ratification, as stated in its article 36. It has now been ratified by 196 parties (195 countries and the European Community). All UN member states—with the exception of the United States—have ratified the treaty. The three main goals of the Convention are: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. According to the Article 24 of CBD, the functions of its secretariat includes the management of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) and other subsidiary bodies of the Convention and co-ordinate with relevant international bodies. Staffed by international civil servants, the host institution of the CBD is the UN Environment with its secretariat located in Montreal, Canada since 1996.
The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the CBD, is to assess the potential, process, findings and recommendations of the fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) in “the light of the ongoing work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on a global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services”.
This global assessment will be complementing the information collected on the basis of national reports and global indicators. From analysing the “the state of knowledge on past, present and possible future trends in multi-scale interactions between people and nature,” to considering the varied knowledge systems and world views, the GBO-5 hopes to address the following important questions:
• “What is the status of and trends in nature, nature’s benefits to people, and indirect and direct drivers of change?
• How do nature and its benefits contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals? What is the evidence-base that can be used for assessing progress towards the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets?
• What are the plausible futures for nature, nature’s benefits to people and their contribution to a good quality of life between now and 2050?
• What pathways and policy intervention scenarios relating to nature, nature’s benefit to people and their contributions to good quality of life can lead to sustainable futures?
• What are the opportunities and challenges, as well as options available to decision makers at all levels relating to nature, nature’s benefit to people and their contributions to good quality of life”?
According to SBSTTA, GBO-5 shall provide a final assessment of the accomplishments with regards to the execution of “Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and give an outlook of the follow-up to this plan starting in 2021”. This analysis by GBO-5 should “ draw on the sixth national reports submitted by CBD parties, an evaluation of global indicators, as well as the regional, global and thematic assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services carried out by IPBES”.
The UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, which is to be launched on May 18, 2020, outlines a combination of various achievable actions that are necessary to “protect nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people”. It also highlights that the success of these efforts will have massive stakes for humanity involved. GBO5 explores the various reasons for the present changes in the ecosystem and biodiversity, its ramifications on humankind, while also looking out for various options like policy based “programmes worldwide that demonstrate successful approaches”.
As nations negotiate for a 10-year global framework for biodiversity-related policy-making, the report will synthesise in-depth evidence of the compelling need for concrete action as it lays down “demonstrated pathways to achieve new targets for nature to 2030,” and also highlights ‘living in harmony with nature,’- a vision for 2050 previously agreed to by the world at large.
GBO5 will also offer an analysis of the accomplishments and shortcomings with respect to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (2010-2020). It will also attempt to interlink the essential connections between biodiversity, 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals) and other major international objectives.
GBO5 hopes to bring forth numerous changes in the current scenario, including:
• An increased awareness with regards to the relevance of “transformational multi-sectoral policies and governance structures, including the effects that policies and other indirect drivers have at a global scale and options to improve trans-regional policy-making”.
• To revise the “evidence-based knowledge base to inform policy making for the decade ahead”;
• And, establish the close connections and “dependencies between meeting objectives for nature, climate change and other components of sustainable development”.
All the targets and concerned framework shall be considered duly at the UN Biodiversity Conference-15th Conference of Parties to the COP15 to be held in Kunming, China from October 15-29, 2020.
The GBO5 will use a wide range of sources to build its report, including:
• Four previous GBO reports (2001, 2006, 2010, 2015)
• Assessments by IPBES, including 2019’s landmark Global Assessment, which referenced nearly 15,000 information sources
• Recent research and indicators updated since the IPBES GA
• 6th National Reports to the CBD from the Convention’s member Parties
• Reports from international bodies, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and others
• Plant Conservation Report (Global Strategy For Plant Conservation targets, 2011-2020)
• Local Biodiversity Outlook (relating to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities)
There are different UN conventions on various global challenges. Some of these are—UN convention on climate change (UNFCCC), UN Convention to combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UN Convention on migratory species (CMS) and the Convention on Ozone depletion (Montreal Protocol). Each convention has different ratified members. These ratified members are called parties to the convention that meet periodically. This periodical meeting of parties is dubbed as “Conference of Parties” or COP. Therefore, several COP’s are held in a single year suffixed with varying numbers. The number shown with COP (COP 14, COP 15 etc.,) denotes the conference number of that particular convention.