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Monday, December 19, 2022

Australia and the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15

Tanya Plibersek in Plenary Photo: Nat Pelle (ACF)


The United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15 / CP-MOP10 / NP-MOP4) is meeting in Montreal, Canada, 7-19 December 2022. This is part of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Biodiversity conference is important as countries will set the 2030 targets. Parties will seek to finalise the 10-year post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF). (read my blog on Global framework on Biodiversity - Australian statement on the Convention on Biodiversity 2030 target)

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has confirmed she will attend COP15 in Montreal.

| COP15 Day Summaries | Australian Pledges | Tracking Minister Plibersek | Resources |

Breaking: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted, although not without some controversy over objection of DRC. See The Montreal Moment for Biodiversity: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted

COP15 Daily Summaries

December 19 

PLENARY: Adoption of Decisions (TBC) - 19 December 2022 16:00 (GMT-5) (youtube)

Read the ENB/IISD full summary of the decisions, with analysis of the conference and process.


December 18 (High Level Segment Day 4)

Global Biodiversity Framework gavelled by COP Presidency

Documents adopted as a package:

  • CBD/COP/15/L25 - Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework
  • CBD/COP/15/L26 - Monitoring framework for the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework
  • CBD/COP/15/L27 - Mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review
  • CBD/COP/15/L28 - Capacity-building and development and technical and scientific cooperation
  • CBD/COP/15/L29 - Resource mobilization
  • CBD/COP/15/L30 - Digital sequence information on genetic resources

But not without some controversy with issues raised by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)...

A quote from Prof Esther Turnhout (Mastodon) on Namibia speaking truth to power...

"That colonial injustice … is the origin of all the problems we have encountered in this convention and in the relationship between humanity and biodiversity. ...We have suffered a systemic trauma that has disrupted the bond between humans and nature, that has led some countries to … [raise] a political objection to the idea that the earth is our mother. ...

If we are going to have any hope at all of living in harmony with nature by 2050, we need to acknowledge that the global economic and financial architecture that came out of the violence of resource extraction, of plantation agriculture, of colonialism to drive markets for … the countries that are today rich and control the resources of the world. ...

We need a much more comprehensive and holistic solution than what we have managed to craft in this global biodiversity framework. … It is not the final step, it is not enough. … Thank you everyone for the adoption of this framework, but there is a lot more work to do"

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Plenary: Adoption of Decisions (TBC) - 18 December 2022 22:40 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
Read the COP document texts

Daily Press Briefing - 18 December 2022 09:15 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Maximizing Rio Conventions organized by United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative, University of Bonn - 18 December 2022 09:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

WWF Daily Press Briefing - 18 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Is the Global Biodiversity Framework assuring us a future? Global Youth press conference organized by the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) - 18 December 2022 11:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Press Conference organized by DEFRA, UK - 18 December 2022 14:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

The 30X30 target what comes next organized by the National Geographic Society - Campaign for Nature - 18 December 2022 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek was interviewed by Sabra Lane on ABC AM current affairs (19 Dec 8am GMT+11). (ABC audio | DCCEEW Full Transcript)

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Look, we're still negotiating the final document and I think it's important to say that Australia has high ambition when it comes to protecting nature. I mean we agreed recently that the world is going to move to net zero. I think we need to agree that we're going to move to nature positive as well so that we have a net zero nature positive world. 

We think that the document that has been circulated has some really good elements, but we believe that it needs to be more ambitious in some respects. So, we've got a domestic target of protecting 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. We think that should be a global target. We think we should have a target of zero new extinctions, and of course Australia wants to see this done in strong partnership with First Nations peoples. 

We'd like to see those domestic ambitions reflected globally and that's what I've been arguing throughout this conference. I think it's really important to say that Australia has been playing a really positive role in negotiating this final agreement. We've really gone from environmental laggard to leader on the world stage. One of the examples of that is the higher ambition statement, we worked up with Norway, a statement to give stronger protection to our oceans. That's been signed on to over last 24 hours by 37 other countries. So, it's just an example I guess of the kind of positive role Australia can play globally. 

The Guardian reports:  Cop15 negotiators close to agreeing nature deal as talks draw to end (The Guardian):

  • Chinese president of Cop15 put forward its recommendations for a final agreement
  • Heads of delegations responded to the text in a meeting on Sunday, with a plenary set to be held in the evening and negotiations expected to continue overnight.
  • Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s climate and environment minister, told the Guardian: “I think that we are very close to a settlement. The document on the table is good. We have decided to establish a multilateral mechanism for sharing the benefits from drug discoveries, vaccines and food products that come from digital forms of biodiversity. If we have a deal, that will be a historic victory for Africa, especially, who has led on this issue.”
  • Some developing countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil and Malaysia, disappointed that a new separate fund for biodiversity not proposed as part of the final text, and said they could not yet agree to the formulation proposed by China.
  • Package includes plans to protect 30% of Earth for nature, reform $500bn (£410bn) of environmentally damaging subsidies, and halt pollution that damages ecosystems by the end of the decade. Countries from the global north would contribute $30bn a year for conservation by the end of the decade. Strong language for the protection of indigenous rights and territories emphasised throughout the 23 targets and four goals that make up the main agreement, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Plans to create a new financing mechanism for biodiversity housed under the UN’s Global Environment Facility.
  • Environmental groups and observers disappointed at the weaker-than-hoped language on consumption and business action on nature after a proposal for mandatory disclosures was not included in the text. The target of making businesses halve their negative impacts on biodiversity has been removed.
  • The term “nature positive”, which scientists had said would be the biodiversity equivalent of “net zero”, does not appear in the text.
  • No numerical target for preventing extinctions until 2050.
  • Oxford biology professor EJ Milner-Gulland says “I think the main issue is that the can is being kicked down the road. as we are lacking clear targets and milestones for many of the most important things. I also just hope that we get some kind of deal that we can work with, even if it’s imperfect – every deal is a compromise,” she said.

ENB/IISD In the Corridors summary report for 18 December:

The penultimate day of COP 15 was marked by contradictions, predictions, and anticipation. The expected package deal was made available in the early morning, following extensive consultations at the ministerial level, mostly behind closed doors. It consisted of President’s texts on the GBF, its monitoring framework, resource mobilization, DSI, capacity building, and planning, monitoring, reporting, and review. This package, suggesting a compromise on the most controversial items on the agenda, which are at the same time the key building blocks of the GBF, aims to leave all negotiating parties equally happy, or equally unhappy.

Participants at COP 15 spent the day waiting for the evening plenary, studying the documents, and exchanging ideas on their content as well as on the way forward. Divergent opinions were flying about; few argued that the compromise text on the GBF offers a strong framework that will initiate the necessary transformative change, halting and reversing biodiversity loss; others opined that the search for middle-ground solutions weakened the document, affecting the level of ambition. Many expressed satisfaction about language on human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Others shared concern about the unclear language in several targets, wondering how effectively it can guide national-level implementation. Some experienced delegates suggested caution in drawing hasty conclusions with one of them saying “First things first. Let us adopt the framework and then, there is so much more to say and analyze on the road to implementation.”

Adoption indeed came early on Monday morning; celebrations however were accompanied by procedural controversy, as the COP President gaveled adoption of the compromise package despite reservations raised by a party. While most participants applauded what they considered a “historic moment,” some parties put on record their concerns regarding the process followed. Others expressed the hope that the circumstances of adoption will not cast a shade over an otherwise impressive compromise reached on the GBF and relevant items.



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December 17 (High Level Segment Day 3)

Working Group I: Review of CRPs (TBC) - 17 December 2022 19:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Zambia's Key Positions on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework organised by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources of Zambia  - 17 December 2022 14:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

La Civilisation écologique et le rôle de la république democratique du congo, pays solution aux changements climatiques et megabiodiveristé organise par Ministère de l'environnement de la République Democratique du Congo - 17 December 2022 15:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

A stocktake from a justice perspective:  the GBF has turned into a Great Big Fraud organized by CBD Alliance  - 17 December 2022 16:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

ENB/IISD Summary for 17 December:

A stocktaking plenary was the highlight of the day. Delegates heard reports from ministerial consultations on the global biodiversity framework (GBF), resource mobilization, and digital sequence information (DSI), and a plan on the way forward as proposed by the Presidency of the Conference of the Parties (COP). Contact groups continued their work on mainstreaming and on the financial mechanism. Working Group (WG) I met in an evening session to address conference room papers (CRPs).

In the Plenary Tanya Plibersek outlined Australia's position (Twitter), including increasing public finance to nature by 2030 (without actually committing a dollar amount as yet) building upon previous commitment of doubling climate and environment finance (including on biodiversity) to $2 billion for 2020-2025 for development assistance. (ie, this is not new money)

Calling for a “net zero, nature positive world,” AUSTRALIA announced plans to increase international public finance for nature up to 2030, building on their commitment to double development assistance funding to AUD two billion.

Note: Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is at COP15. The Greens criticised Labor for failing to offer extra funding for global nature deal at Cop15 (The Guardian)

In the Corridors:

Dashing through the snow to the conference venue was a pleasant reminder of the upcoming holidays, and the mood of delegates was markedly improved. It might have been due to the beauty of the snow, the announcement of the winners of the first-ever CBD snowman building competition, or the news that progress was achieved in ministerial consultations on some of the “big six” core issues: the GBF, its monitoring framework, DSI, resource mobilization, capacity building, and planning, monitoring, reporting, and review. On DSI in particular, many were pleasantly surprised to hear about a clear ministerial proposal to establish a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism at this meeting. Following the announcement that a President’s text will be tabled early Sunday morning, “as if drawn from under a blanket of snow,” an observer welcomed developments as the only chance of reaching agreement on the core issues. Others warned of the risk of linking everything in one package. “If one falls, they all fall,” one delegate cautioned, and they were not making an analogy to the pretty snowfall, but rather to the slippery slope underneath it.


December 16 (High Level Segment Day 2)

Australia: Labor revokes Abbott government move in 2015 on Bioenergy which allowed energy from burning wood waste to be counted with solar and wind (The Guardian) Native Forest Wood Waste removed from Renewable Energy Target (DCCEEW)

Land clearing still at record high: "Queensland continues to record the highest rate of land clearing in the country, with more than 400,000 hectares destroyed in 2019-20, according to new government data. The Queensland government’s annual statewide landcover and tree study shows 418,656 hectares was cleared, a 38% decline from 680,688 hectares the previous year but still the equivalent of about 567 Melbourne Cricket Grounds a day." (The Guardian)

Daily Press Briefing - 16 December 2022 09:15 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

High Level Segment of COP-15 - 16 December 2022 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

High Level Segment of COP-15 - 16 December 2022 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

High Level Segment of COP15 - 16 December 2022 19:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
Tanya Plibersek delivers Australia's national  statement. She is the first speaker in this session. See also Tracking Minister Plibersek

Working Group II: Review of CRPs - 16 December 2022 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Rio Conventions Pavilion Events - 16 December 2022 08:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

WWF Daily Briefing - 16 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

High Ambition Coalition 30X30 organized by the Government of Canada and CBD Secretariat - 16 December 2022 12:20 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Forest Peoples Press Briefing - 16 December 2022 14:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Canada announcement on biodiversity protection in developing countries organized by Global Affairs Canada and Environmental and Climate Change Canada - 16 December 2022 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

ENB/IISD In the Corridors excerpt from report summary of 16 December:

The fresh snow embellishing the start of the day saw some delegates wondering whether there was some truth to the Asian proverb, “snowfall is a windfall of luck.” However, as negotiations in multiple formats continued, it became starkly clear to all delegates that the success of this conference was not down to luck. The negotiation temperature at the meeting venue reached new heights with smaller delegations deploring the parallel convening of various meetings, preventing them from effectively participating in the negotiation process. Alluding to the challenge of connecting the pieces of the GBF scattered among these groups, one delegate noted, “we are not equipped to follow everything, even with a clone it would have been difficult.”

The second day of the high-level segment progressed unabated with a marathon of speeches at odds with the state of the negotiations. Many wondered how the ministerial-level consultations announced by the COP President were progressing. “How should ministers be able to resolve in hours what expert delegates have been trying to complete in years?” one delegate offered. With the final moments of the conference approaching, some participants wondered if in the end a cleaned up “take-it-or-leave-it” GBF would be unveiled, as if drawn from under a blanket of snow.

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December 15 (High Level Segment Day 1)

US-Australia Pact to measure nature's economic value. Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek signs US-Australia pact to measure environment’s economic value. (SMH) Media statement: Australia and the United States to work together on measuring the economic value of nature (DCCEEW) ACF Comment: Australia-US deal can help businesses value nature (ACF)

Biodiversity risk for companies: new report authored by Jennifer Ramos and Zaneta Sedilekova ‘Biodiversity Risk: Legal Implications for Companies and their Directors’ explains that in order to discharge their duties and disclosure obligations, directors can ensure that risk management processes assess foreseeable biodiversity dependencies and impacts of the company for materiality and measure those that are material, embedding them into company strategy and disclosure processes. (Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative)

Finance: a sticking point at the COP15 UN biodiversity summit, with 54 members of the African group, seven South and Latin American countries as well as other large countries, including India and Indonesia 'walking out' of late night finance talks in the early hours of Wednesday morning in frustration at what they say is a refusal of wealthier nations to guarantee support.

Japan, the EU, Norway and Switzerland are reportedly refusing to budge on even discussing the prospect of a new fund for nature (which is the one of the texts with the most brackets in it!). The campaign director of AVAAZ is claiming that France President Emmanuel Macron - last seen watching Les Blues beat plucky Morocco 2-0 at the World Cup in Qatar - has sent a letter to Ursula von der Leyen saying that the creation of a new fund for biodiversity is a “redline”. The French have an unusual attachment to the current fund the Global Environment Facility (aka GEF).

Windfall Tax. Campaign for Nature pitched a windfall tax on polluting companies. The largest global mining companies profits were $159 billion in 2021, most are based in donor countries so a small levy for the pollution they cause could help bridge the $700bn gap. Meanwhile, wildlife royalties from just 14 companies using big cats in advertising could raise up to $2bn a year.

Targets & Timetables: The part of the negotiations that isn’t glamorous [Agenda item 13 and para 46 in the GBF] but will mark it out from its predecessor (Aichi) is how countries make sure they keep their commitments. It’s about the timeline, consistency in reporting on the new targets. But these negotiations also reached a standstill on Tuesday night while everything hinges on the money. 

President Xi will open the high Level Segment via video today. Then it’s a hodgepodge of Ministers, Ambassadors and Underdogs for the rest of the day. New announcements might be made, but will they break the current impasse?

High Level Segment of COP-15 - 15 December 2022 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China, welcomed delegates and announced the participation of 126 ministers and 77 deputy ministerial representatives from 140 parties as well as 60 heads of international organizations. Together with many dignitaries, he urged participants to show leadership and decisiveness for an ambitious, practical, and transformative GBF.

High Level Segment of COP-15 - 15 December 2022 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Rio Conventions Pavilion Events - 15 December 2022 09:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

ENB/IISD In the Corridors summary report for 15 December:

The day was marked by a letter from the COP President circulated in participants’ mailboxes, setting out a path for informal ministerial-level negotiations on the well-known most controversial items, including the GBF, resource mobilization, DSI, monitoring, and capacity building. The letter was considered a ray of hope by some participants. “There seems to be a Plan B,” one noted, expressing hope that ministers can push agreement over the finish line. Others, however, were less optimistic. “Ministers will need magic powers to navigate the maze we’ve created,” one was heard commenting on another day of painstaking text-based negotiations on the GBF, “there are so many decisions to be made and time is running out.”

The high-level segment on the other hand was marked by repeated calls for an ambitious and robust GBF. Leaving the room, a participant could not help but remark the gap between high-level rhetoric and the realities of negotiations. Pointing to agreement to move a potential target on biodiversity and health under the section on considerations for GBF implementation also known as parking lot, “that’s the place where good ideas go to die,” she said, while still expressing hope that the ministers “will indeed push for action, our credibility is increasingly at stake.”

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December 14 (Finance and Biodiversity Day):

Co-Chairs Press Briefing - 14 December 2022 09:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
Discussion of walkout by Developing countries from contact group meeting over Resource Mobilisation. List of high level targets to be handled by Ministers. 

Daily Press Briefing - 14 December 2022 09:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Food Day at Rio Conventions Pavilion - 14 December 2022 09:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

WWF Daily Briefing - 14 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

"Progress on 30x30 – What to Watch For" organized by the National Geographic Society - Campaign for Nature - 14 December 2022 11:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Celebrity campaign launch organized by Avaaz Foundation - 14 December 2022 12:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

CBD Alliance - 14 December 2022 13:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Biodiversity can only exist with ‘Land Back’ organized by Indigenous Climate Action - 14 December 2022 14:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Finance and Biodiversity Day - 14 December 2022 17:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

"Amazonia against the clock: how indigenous territories to save the planet" organized by Stand.earth - 14 December 2022 17:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

ENB/IISD In the Corridors summary of December 14:

Resource mobilization was the talk of the day, with media and participants reflecting on the late-night events of the previous day. The walkout by developing countries during the negotiations on resource mobilization had taken many by surprise, causing widespread concern.

Discussions in the corridors and behind closed doors brought up the finance gap for biodiversity action, with positions potentially hundreds of billions of USD apart. During a suspense-filled contact group on the GBF in the afternoon, one delegate stressed that, “we are not accepting a GBF without proportionate finance.” Statements indeed reiterated that the level of ambition for both financial resources and conservation targets of the GBF had to be synchronized, as delegates were called on to put their positions on the table, since “we cannot pretend to like omelets and be afraid of breaking the eggs!” As the day progressed, some participants pondered whether the GBF or the resource mobilization strategy would take priority in further negotiations. One participant raised the proverbial question: “What should come first, the chicken or the egg?”

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December 13:

How can we drive real world progress on the nature agenda?  Tony Juniper, Craig Bennett and CISL host a press conference calling for the CBD to unlock real economic change organized by the University of Cambridge (Youtube)

Shift our mindsets: NGO from India inspires a conscious shift in awareness to reach global targets organized by Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (Youtube)

Four African CSOs on agroecology, biotechnologies and the "free, prior and informed consent" organized by the CBDA (Youtube)

Biodiversity For Her: Gender Equality in Environmental Policy at COP-15 organized by UNCBD Women's Caucus (Youtube)

California’s Commitment to Wildlife Crossings and Corridors as Critical Biodiversity Strategy organized by National Wildlife Federation (Youtube)

WWF Daily Briefing - 13 December 2022 11:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Outcomes and news from the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities organized by ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center (Youtube)

COP-15 President news conference - 13 December 2022 09:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

ENB/IISD In the Corridors summary report of 13 December:

Negotiations resumed on Tuesday following “a break that was not a real break,” as an observer commented, referring to the multiple consultations held on Monday on various parts of the GBF, DSI, resource mobilization, and technical and scientific cooperation, to mention but a few. With most participants recognizing by now that these topics are the main building blocks of a successful outcome, many lamented the late initiation of deliberations on resource mobilization. Still, “the final countdown may provide the necessary impetus,” one remarked, wondering what the result could be if the drafts are not in decent enough shape before the ministers arrive on Thursday. “A President’s text? Who knows?” she mused.

To keep negative thinking at bay, participants looked for inspiration outside the official negotiating rooms. The Nature and Culture Summit and the Summit for subnational governments and cities that ran over the “break” provided several outstanding examples of Indigenous, local, and community-based biodiversity governance. “Notwithstanding the outcome of this conference, these initiatives need to be supported to blossom and multiply,” an observer noted. “Although obviously, this support will be more effective with a strong GBF!”

High Level Meeting:  UN biodiversity boss Elizabeth Mrema confirmed that 130 Ministers will join the COP15 talks this week on Thursday and Friday. Good news on paper, but it seems a number of ministers from biodiverse critical countries are not turning up to COP15. Here’s the list of likely no-shows who won’t be coming from the G20 and/or LMMCs (Like Minded Mega Diverse Countries): Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Malaysia, Peru, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Italy.

Biodiversity Finance remains a massive issue, as Carbon Brief's Aruna Chandrasekhar notes in this twitter thread

Business: Standing room only at Business For Nature Coalition (@BfNCoalition) briefing (Twitter)! Business for Nature is also calling for an ambitious Target 15 that will Make It Mandatory for businesses to assess and disclose their impacts on nature. (Twitter). FoEI fears the growing corporate influence in Biodiversity negotiations increases greenwashing, while the delegate list to COP15 remains unpublished to help determine levels of corporate influence.

Resource Mobilisation: Oscar Soria (@oscar_soria on twitter) reports "DEVELOPING: At 00:49 on Wednesday, #COP15 delegates from developing countries walked out of the contact group on resource mobilization, ending the meeting. The other contact group, on review mechanism, also ended its meeting soon after. Delegates left the meeting because they felt that it was impossible to make progress in the discussions because developed countries were not ready to compromise - they invited the Parties that are obstacles to reflect on their positions in order to move forward at another point. After weeks of acting as if discussions could move forward without properly addressing the issue of financial resources, now Parties are finally done with pretending. The game is finally on."


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December 12:

Australian Conservation Foundation releases report: Risky business: How Australia’s banks and super funds are responding to the nature crisis. It is the first benchmarking analysis of 20 of Australia’s largest banks and super funds’ approach to managing nature-related risks. 90% of super funds and 80% of banks have not set nature-related targets – and only 20% of banks and super funds say they plan to. None of the big four banks have a ‘no deforestation’ target, casting doubt on their net zero commitments. (The UN says companies cannot claim to be on the path to net zero while still funding deforestation.)  Australia has the developed world’s highest rate of nature destruction, yet Australian banks and super funds are more likely to have policies to avoid financing nature destruction overseas (e.g. palm oil financing), than to protect koala and cockatoo habitat.  

Interesting watching final text of Global Biodiversity Framework Target 15 which requires that all businesses report on nature-related impacts and dependencies.(ACF)

7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities - 12 December 2022 8:30 (GMT -5) (Youtube)

Nature and Culture Summit - 12 December 2022 9:00 (GMT -5) (Youtube)

European Union Press Conference - 12 December 2022 10:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities - 12 December 2022 14:00 (GMT -5) (Youtube)

Nature and Culture Summit - 12 December 2022 14:30 (GMT -5) (Youtube)

Mairesse de Montréal / Mayor of Montreal - Valérie Plante - 12 December 2022 16:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Nature Positive Travel & Tourism organized by the World Travel & Tourism Council - 12 December 2022 (Youtube)

Oil and Gas Threats to Key Tropical Forests organized by Stand.earth - 12 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

WWF Daily Briefing - 12 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Fifth Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity and the Eighth International Conference on Sustainability Science - 12 December (Youtube)

Press Briefing by Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary - 12 December (Youtube)

December 11:

Daily Press Briefing - 11 December 2022 09:15 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
(Sunday - No negotiations taking place, just side events)

WWF mid-conference assessment:

“Negotiators have, for the most part, focused on minutia rather than the big-ticket items where compromise must be forged if the world is to secure an ambitious global biodiversity agreement in Montreal. They have left themselves a lot to do in the next few days. It is critical that when Ministers arrive on Thursday they have relatively clean text with the right level of ambition to discuss and agree on. What we have currently is a spider’s web of brackets.

“We are particularly worried about two issues: a threat to the draft agreement’s implementation mechanism, and attempts to avoid action to address humanity’s footprint. A strong implementation mechanism is essential to hold countries accountable to achieving the global goals and targets they agree to in Montreal. And a strong commitment to significantly reduce humanity’s footprint is vital. Unless we halve the footprint of production and consumption by 2030, we won’t be able to turn the tide on biodiversity loss – spatial conservation alone won’t be enough! Agriculture, for example, is responsible for 70% of terrestrial biodiversity loss due to widespread conversion, pollution and soil degradation. COP15 must be the moment when we agree to fix our broken food systems, as part of a broader transition of our productive sectors so that they work with nature, not against it.

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December 10:

Australia - Biodiversity market: Why a biodiversity environment market doesn’t work - An explanation by Polly Hemming of Australia Institute. A warning to Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek not to commodify and marketise habitats and species conservation which will likely lead to further species decline (Saturday Paper)

Australia’s mountain mist frog declared extinct as red list reveals scale of biodiversity crisis. It was one of 26 Australian species to have its listing changed. Most of the others were types of orchid. (The Guardian)

Daily Press Briefing - 10 December 2022 09:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Working Group II: Review of CRPs - 10 December 2022 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

WWF Daily Briefing - 10 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Mayors’ Statement on Financing Nature for Sustainable Cities and Regions organized by Cities Unit, Economy Division, UNEP 11:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

PLENARY: Stocktake - 10 December 2022 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Global Strategic Communications Council report 10 December (email):

Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) text likely to be out till next week. On the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF aka Paris Agreement for nature) we roughly know where country blocs stand.  46 countries including the EU, US, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Gabon & Nigeria want tougher rules. 20 countries that harbour 70% of the Earth's biodiverse areas including Brazil, India, China, Indonesia and DRC say finance flows must match targets, warning that a $10 billion per annum proposal is "far from adequate". We could see a new finance text out today. 

Tensions: Talks on the 30x30 target won't be simple, as Avaaz campaign lead Oscar Soria notes on twitter: "An Indigenous leader with whom we spoke notes that it is always like this, and that last time, some of the discussions on target 3 [30x30] went on until 3am. The wee hours, the games and tactics to reduce or watering down an already unambitious target (30x30) is emotionally exhausting."

Saving Nemo: Negotiations to protect land look simple, compared to protecting the sea and oceans. That’s why we’re seeing so much extra time devoted to all things aquatic. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are few and far between. So far we’re at 2-7% globally depending on who you ask, and it may explain why China isn’t championing 30x30 (the target to protect 30% of nature by 2030), when it’s only reaching to protect 13% of its seas at a stretch

In the genes: A make or break issue at COP15 and a space where business and commercial interests are prominent is Digital Sequencing Information (DSI). DSI is a negotiation around control, access and wealth sharing from genetic data i.e. breakthroughs in modern medicine, technology and food.

On the march: The Kanien'kehà:ka Nation is recognized as traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Tiohtiiá::ke or Montreal, historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations. So it’s fitting that today, at 1300 local time, dozens of Indigenous delegations from around the world will lead the Montreal March for Biodiversity and Human Rights.  First Peoples or IPLCs (Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities) represent around 5% of the global population but protect 80% of nature. Indigenous leadership, rights and wisdom are central to efforts to protect biodiversity.

IUCN Redlist: 150,388. This is the number of species on the IUCN Red list - a list of the most threatened species. New entrants include dugongs - a large herbivorous marine mammal and Abalone shellfish species - some of the most expensive seafood in the world.
TOTAL SPECIES ASSESSED = 150,388
(Total threatened species = 42,108)
Extinct = 902
Extinct in the Wild = 84
Critically Endangered = 9,251
Endangered = 16,364
Vulnerable = 16,493
Near Threatened = 8,816

Local woes: While Canada’s environment minister Steven Guilbeault goes large on announcing plans for bird-friendly cities and a new First Nations National Guardians Network (funding TBD), Montreal residents are increasingly angered by the government's failure closer to home. Residents say the govt is not protecting 155 hectares of wetlands near the Montreal airport. The ecologically sensitive natural area is home to monarch butterflies and over 200 species of birds.

ENB/IISB In the corridors summary from 10 December report:

As the conference approached a halfway mark, several interventions celebrated International Human Rights Day, this year under the theme, “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All!” Delegates, while acknowledging the day’s significance, were called to self-reflect on the need to ensure protection of the rights of the most vulnerable and those most affected by biodiversity loss. One participant observed that focusing on human rights in the GBF could serve as a “crystalizing point for including society as a whole, including women, children, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and even businesses in regard to their responsibility to respect human rights.”

The day featured Working Group, contact group, and informal meetings, as well as a stocktaking plenary. While many seemed tired enough from the vast material the negotiations have already covered, others were quick to note that some topics have not even been touched yet. One of them is EBSAs. One delegate vented her frustration that already at SBSTTA 24 there was not enough time for discussion: “With our oceans covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface, shouldn’t we prioritize strong guidance on how to protect them?” There is yet time, but “the risk is high that some key topics will not get the attention they deserve in the hectic showdown at the end,” another concluded.

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December 9:

Daily Press Briefing - 9 December 2022 09:15 (GMT-5)(Youtube)

Working Group I: Review of CRPs - 9 December 2022 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Working Group II: Review of CRPs - 9 December 2022 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Working Group II: Review of CRPs - 9 December 2022 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species organized by IUCN 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
"Today’s update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ highlights a barrage of threats affecting marine species, including illegal and unsustainable fishing, pollution, climate change and disease. Populations of dugongs – large herbivorous marine mammals – and 44% of all abalone shellfish species enter the IUCN Red List as threatened with extinction; the pillar coral has deteriorated to Critically Endangered due to accumulated pressures."(IUCN)

WWF Daily Briefing - 9 December 2022 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Leading Marine Scientists Urge COP15 Policy-Makers 11:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
Press conference organized by Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative urging Policy-makers to Support Research to Find, Catalogue, Protect Disappearing Deep-Sea Species. See Appeal to Montreal: Protection for Deep-Sea Species. New Policy Brief “Diving through the darkness – Species information is vital for effective marine conservation” Publication: Kaiser, S., Sigwart, J., Niamir, A., Saeedi, H., Chen, C., Hilário, A., Horton, T., Howell, K., Levin, L., Osborn, K., Brandt, A. (2022): Diving through the darkness – Species information is vital for effective marine conservation. SGN Policy Brief, 12/2022, https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7373440

International appeal : protecting pollinators from dangerous effects of genetic biotechnology. 12:00 (Youtube) The warning of over 100 scientists and policy experts on the danger of genetic biotechnologies on pollinators and biodiversity. See Experts urge caution over biotech that can wipe out insect pests (Phys.org)

Friends of the Earth International press briefing - 9 December 2022 12:30 (GMT-5) (Youtube)
The influence of Corporate capture in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

World Leaders: Protect Half of Our Planet. Organized by AVAAZ Foundation - 9 December 2022 15:00 (Youtube

Scientists argue that the 30x30 protected zone is far too timid and not supported by the science. The High Ambition Coalition should be pushing for science based targets. Megadiverse countries like Australia should be protecting far more than 30% of land for wildlife to prevent species decline and extinction.

See Dinerstein et al (2020) “Global Safety Net” to reverse biodiversity loss and stabilize Earth’s climate, Science Advances,  4 Sep 2020, Vol 6, Issue 36, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb2824

"We identify 50% of the terrestrial realm that, if conserved, would reverse further biodiversity loss, prevent CO2 emissions from land conversion, and enhance natural carbon removal. This framework shows that, beyond the 15.1% land area currently protected, 35.3% of land area is needed to conserve additional sites of particular importance for biodiversity and stabilize the climate."

A more recent study identified that at least 44% of Earth's land area—some 64 million square kilometers (24.7 million square miles) requires conservation to safeguard biodiversity. See:  James R. Allan et al, The minimum land area requiring conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abl9127

ENB/IISD In the Corridors for 9 December report:

As another busy day packed with working and contact group meetings progressed, delegates began to seriously consider what their chances are of reaching an agreement on an ambitious GBF. While most emphasized that the third day of the COP is still too early for accurate predictions, they concurred on the main obstacles. “If we manage to agree on resource mobilization and digital sequence information, then the only thing pending is to find our way out of the labyrinth of goals and targets of the GBF,” joked a delegate, trying to keep an eye on the penalty shootouts at the football World Cup.

Other participants, however, opted to focus away from the spotlight. “While the GBF is undoubtedly the most urgent consideration,” one offered “we should not lose sight of the important work that has already been fulfilled.” She pointed towards a series of more technical items successfully concluded, especially under the Convention’s Protocols, including on the ABS and Biosafety Clearing-Houses, emphasizing that “this is what implementation is all about.”


Climate activist Hila Perry used rap to send a message to negotiators

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December 8: 

Photo: Tanya Plibesek speech

Australia: Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announces major environmental law reforms and formal response to the Independent Review of Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. "at the heart of our reform is a conceptual shift. When we reform our environmental laws, we will take them from being nature negative, where we just manage an overall decline in our environment, to nature positive, where we protect our land and leave it in a better state than we found it." said Plibersek at a Queensland Conservation Council event.  (Blog: Minister outlines major update to Australian environmental laws and the EPBC Act by end of 2023 | (DCCEEW Ministerial speech | Facebook Live Video | Government Response to Samuels Review of EPBC Act - Nature Positive Plan: better for the environment, better for business)

Trudeau pledges £510m for Indigenous-led conservation projects. (The Guardian) Canada’s prime minister calls on China, Russia and Brazil to expand protected areas for nature.

New draft of the agreement (PDF) published after pre-negotiations over the weekend, with at least 22 targets and four goals being discussed. Proposals including those on human wildlife conflict, trophy hunting, repurposing subsidies, nature restoration and expanding protected areas are under consideration.

Daily Press Briefing - Thursday, 8 December 09:15 (GMT-5) (Youtube) features Canada's Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, questions from journalists

Video: Understanding the 30x30 goal - Thursday, 8 December 10:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Video:  Briefing on Human Rights and Biodiversity - Thursday, 8 December 12:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

Working Group II - Thursday, 8 December 10:00 (GMT-5) CP-MOP-10, NP-MOP-04 (Youtube)

Working Group II: - Thursday, 8 December 15:00 (GMT-5) COP-15 (Youtube)

ENB/IISD  summary report for 8 December:

As negotiations entered full speed, delegates witnessed the first signs of success. Working Group II reviewed a long series of items relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)and its Protocols, welcoming consensus reached in the contact group on risk assessment and risk management the previous night. The contact group on digital sequence information (DSI) held a general exchange of views in a constructive atmosphere before establishing a Friends of the Chair group. The contact group on the global biodiversity framework (GBF) achieved much-awaited progress on GBF Sections. Other contact groups addressed capacity building and synthetic biology. In the evening, contact group negotiations continued on the GBF, while other groups addressed resource mobilization, agriculture, and marine and coastal biodiversity. Friends of the Chair groups focused on the monitoring framework under the GBF and on climate change.

ENB//IISD In The corridors section 8 December showed a glimmer of hope:

After the sobering outcome of the fifth meeting of the Working Group on the GBF only three days ago, the first two days of COP 15 gave reason to timidly raise hopes. Working Group II progressed through items quickly, moving straight to the development of conference room papers (CRPs) for those items already satisfactorily discussed in subsidiary bodies. Those pending were also expedited into contact groups and Friends of the Chair groups for finalization. In particular, items relating to new technologies including synthetic biology and gene drives made progress: “This could be a reflection of increased awareness about the risks which come with the technological breakthroughs,” one seasoned delegate offered.

Contact groups set up by Working Group I met to tackle, among other items, what some referred to as the “COP 15 main course: the GBF and DSI.” The Co-Chairs of the GBF took on the challenge of tackling the heavily bracketed text with a sternness, discouraging parties that attempted including new language or brackets. Doubts on whether this approach would hold were briefly assuaged when completion of the section on the purpose of the framework drew applause and relief from many. One delegate was heard whispering, “that was tough but fair.” In the evening however, forging compromises became more challenging, which left another delegate wondering whether “we ever see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

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December 7:

Australian Biodiversity Council (Website) launched, funded for 4 years. Modelled on the Climate Council, it will be a voice for scientists, including indigenous knowledge.  The organisation wants to foster public, policy and industry recognition of the biodiversity crisis, the importance of biodiversity for wellbeing and prosperity, and opportunities and solutions to address the decline of nature. (The Guardian) Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek launched the organisation (UniMelb)

PLENARY - Wednesday, 7 December 10:00 (GMT-5) COP-15, CP-MOP-10, NP-MOP-04 (Youtube)

Working Group I: - Wednesday, 7 December 15:00 (GMT-5) COP-15, NP-MOP-04 (Youtube)
Working Group I will address COP15 Agenda Items 8. 9. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15b, 16, as well as items 13 and 14 under the Nagoya Protocol Meeting of the Parties (MOP). All other items under the COP and Nagoya MOP and Cartagena MOP will be covered by Working Group II

Working Group II:- Wednesday, 7 December 15:00 (GMT-5) COP-15, CP-MOP-10, NP-MOP-04 (Youtube)

ENB/IISD bulletin Summary 7 December:

Negotiations geared into full speed without delay. During the opening plenary, regional groups outlined their priorities, with many focusing on the global biodiversity framework (GBF) and digital sequence information (DSI). Two Working Groups started deliberations on the long and broad agenda containing draft decisions with numerous unresolved matters. Several contact groups were established, leaving small and non-anglophone delegations wondering how they would deal with the workload.

Three contact groups met in the evening to address draft decisions on: mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting, and review; resource mobilization; and risk assessment and risk management under the Cartagena Protocol.

Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China and President of the fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP), highlighted China’s commitment, noting “we must now conclude a peace pact with nature” through a renewed GBF.

December 6:

Photo: Antonio Guterres, by @clemetivier@twitter
Green Deal: EU agrees law to fight global deforestation and forest degradation driven by EU production and consumption. Media Release. "When the new rules enter into force, all relevant companies will have to conduct strict due diligence if they place on the EU market, or export from it: palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber and rubber as well as derived products (such as beef, furniture, or chocolate)." (European Commission) Response from Greenpeace (Greenpeace EU)

“As far as biodiversity is concerned, we are at war with nature. We need to make peace with nature. Because nature is what sustains everything on Earth … the science is unequivocal.” said Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN environment programme. She articulated that the final text of any agreement must tackle “the five horsemen of the biodiversity apocalypse”: land-use change; overexploitation; pollution; the climate crisis; and the spread of invasive species.(The Guardian)

Statement by UN Secretary General at Openning Plenary (UN) (Blog: "Time to forge a Peace Pact with Nature" says UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at COP15 Biodiversity conference

WWF daily press briefing 11:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

COP Opening Ceremony - 15:00 (GMT-5) (Youtube)

We need a 'Paris Moment; in Montreal: Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said in a media release "We need a 'Paris Moment' in Montreal. Similar to the legally binding global climate agreement to hold global warming well below 2 degree Celsius and aim for 1.5 degree Celsius, governments gathering at the world nature summit COP15 in Canada need to set a limit to nature destruction. To safeguard our life-support system on Earth, we need to halt nature loss to zero,  which means protecting all remaining intact nature. Only if we protect  and regenerate Earth's nature, we can really protect Earth's climate."

ENB/IISD bulletin Summary 6 December


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Fifth meeting of the Working Group on the Global Biodiversity Framework 

This working group convened from 3-5 December, immediately before the  Conference of the Parties working on final technical details of the Draft Global Biodiversity Framework.

December 5:

Press Briefing: (English) (Daily Press Briefing) - Monday, 5 December 09:15 (GMT-5) Youtube

Scientists launch 10 Must Dos from Biodiversity Science 2022 

To summarise: 

10 Must Dos from Biodiversity Science 2022: 

1. protect 30% of land and sea areas by 2030, to designate a further 20% as climate stabilisation areas

2. consistent promotion and integration of biodiversity in urban areas, 

3. widespread reduction of light around fauna-flora-habitat areas

4. preservation, maintenance and documentation of indigenous and local languages and their associated knowledge systems. This includes recognising land, territorial and socio-cultural rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs).

5. global protection  of primary forests from overexploitation and for the development of degraded forests into natural, climate-resilient forests through targeted planting and natural regeneration. 

6. existing agriculture subsidies put towards more biodiversity-friendly production.

7. protection of natural resources (soil, water, air) and of biodiversity is mainstreamed in all political and planning decision-making processes locally, regionally, nationally and globally.

8.  establishment of a secure long-term transregional and global monitoring system (stratified biodiversity monitoring) as well as of an extensive early warning system.

9. maintaining the open access and unrestricted use of these scientific biodiversity data sources, for expanding these information infrastructures, and for securing them in the long term.

10. abolishment of harmful subsidies and the provision of incentives for the economic and finance sector to invest in protecting and conserving biodiversity. To achieve this, the social costs of ecosystem services and biodiversity loss must be assessed monetarily and then entered into national accounts (including outsourced biodiversity loss in imported products)

Leibniz Research Network Biodiversity (2022): 10 Must Dos from Biodiversity Science 2022. Potsdam, Germany. 4 pages. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7361181 - https://zenodo.org/record/7361181#.Y44lmNLP29K  

Scientists call for end to logging to produce bioenergy. More than 650 scientists are urging world leaders to stop burning trees to make energy because it destroys valuable habitats for wildlife. (The Guardian)

From ENB/IISD bulletin In The Corridors 5 December:

Delegates were struggling to keep the momentum going on the third and final day of WG2020. The streamlined draft GBF text offered by the informal group was, to the dismay of many, continuously burdened with further brackets. After some timid successes on the first day, one seasoned participant observed, “our morale has been spiraling downwards.” The one thing that remained constant, another one remarked, is “the steadfast stubbornness with which parties held to positions, leading to the usual tug of war, with a higher possibility of snapping the rope than changing positions.” The result could only be a package of heavily bracketed provisions forwarded to the COP. 

The outcome on DSI was somewhat different. Progress was made on building blocks for a COP decision, but the document is entirely bracketed and includes a compilation of ideas as annexes. “We have all the ideas necessary for a successful result,” many participants agreed, while noting that a lot of work is still needed for a consensus decision.

As the contact groups wound up their work, any sense of accomplishment felt distant in the face of the pending work. “All is not lost though,” one participant offered, looking at the CRPs tabled for plenary: “now comes the COP, and the formal countdown may be what we need to complete and adopt a renewed framework.”

 Avaaz Campaigns Director Oscar Soria (@oscar_soria@twitter.com) comments

Last day of #OEWG5 — and delegates are not delivering. They're clearly kicking the can down the road. Out of 22 targets, virtually only 5 have clean text, and 3 of them have agreement amongst Parties. Too much will be pushed back to the #COP15, maybe?

Frustration, and fear that there won't be enough time. We heard observers, developing and developed nations, Parties, and Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities today. The shared message: there won't be time to wrap this up.

With so much being kicked to the COP15, whether it is the goals or targets, the indicators or the agreement on a new fund (and the money for it), the next 14 days will be busy, but may not be enough.

"Not again!" That's the reaction you hear in the back of the CG and plenary rooms, every time a Party proposes language that has already been bracketed or removed in previous talks. At this point, everybody knows what are each other's red lines, and yet, the cacophony continues.

While the rules of the game should be the same for all, Avaaz wonders whether this shared strategy by Parties to keep pushing, and to not build bridges, will be successful. In this match, all the players are all over the place... and we're all losing: Brackets 2 x 0 BGF

The Russian delegation, impacted by the lack of visas for this meeting, is hitting back by taking hostage women’s rights and critical language is now bracketed. The room wants target 22 without brackets. But Moscow refuses. Putin’s mansplaining 1 x 0 GBF Gender-responsiveness.

December 4:

From ENB/IISD bulletin In The Corridors 4 December:

Photo: ENB/IISD. contact group on GBF targets
“No light at the end of the tunnel,” a delegate exclaimed after a long contact group session on the very first target of the draft GBF concerning spatial planning. “We don’t have the luxury to spend four hours on a single target, especially on relatively uncontroversial issues,” commented another.

In an effort to put frustration aside, some resilient delegates held on to threads of optimism and exchanged ideas on ways forward. Many noted the need to reinstate faith in the process and restore trust among parties. Indeed, several noted that significant progress could be achieved by focusing on technical issues, while leaving political matters to be resolved by the COP. One delegate remarked on the need for firm, yet persuasive, contact group guidance to overcome the rising frustration. Another delegate, questioning the nature of the targets under discussion, provided more drastic perspectives, wondering if what we need is less technical but more aspirational targets. The flip side, one noted, is that aspirational targets are often more abstract, leaving the question, “how to implement international guidance that gets more and more vague.”

The discussion of fundamental principles similarly did not get off to a good start when delegates engaged in a lengthy discussion of a provision on the role of IPLCs, and their rights and traditional knowledge. An observer noted that certain parties bracketed long-standing CBD language while attempting to lower standards for long-fought IPLC rights. “Rather than making progress we risk witnessing a race to the bottom,” one seasoned participant cautioned, while expressing the hope that a strong GBF was still within reach.

December 3:

From ENB/IISD bulletin In the Corridors 3 December:

“The eyes of the world are upon us,” the Co-Chairs impressed upon delegates at the opening of the fifth meeting of the WG2020, the last chance to conclude negotiations before COP 15, to convene in four days. With such a tight schedule and a draft GBF full of options and brackets, many expressed the hope that the necessary sense of urgency will prevail. “Hopefully, the winds of change will soon start blowing to make a last-minute agreement possible,” an optimist commented. 

By the end of the first day, there were mixed feelings on whether the pace is sufficient to enable a successful outcome. Expectations appeared dimmed at first when plenary held an expected but lengthy debate on which draft to use as the basis for negotiations: the convoluted “official text” resulting from WG2020-4, or the shorter, streamlined, but not negotiated, text proposed by an informal group. In the contact groups, most delegates recognized the hard work achieved by the informal group, appreciating the concise nature of the text. However, on some occasions, participants kept adding to the text, mirroring the slow tempo of past meetings. Would “only a miracle” save us, as a participant was heard sighing? Or should we all be more optimistic, like some observers who noted that “contact group participants managed to pull themselves together” by cleaning up the text for certain GBF targets?

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Australian Pledges relating to Biodiversity

December 18: Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek announces Australia will host Nature Positive Summit, a global meeting of the world’s environment ministers and business leaders in 2024. More detail at The Age report. Ministerial press release: Australia to host global Nature Positive Summit (DCCEEW). The Summit will focus on how to encourage private finance for on-the-ground nature repair projects, such as restoring mangroves, protecting waterways, and re-establishing habitat for threatened species. The Summit will support implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and it will build on Australia’s strong support for the International Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure. Australia working with Pacific nations to ensure strong representation from Pacific region. Host city will be disclosed in coming months.

December 15: US-Australia Pact to measure nature's economic value. Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek signs US-Australia pact to measure environment’s economic value. (SMH) Media statement: Australia and the United States to work together on measuring the economic value of nature (DCCEEW) ACF Comment: Australia-US deal can help businesses value nature (ACF) See Joint Statement of the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia on Cooperation on Natural Capital Accounting, Environmental- Economic Accounting, and Related Statistics (whitehouse.gov)

December 12: Australia a foundation member of The Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance launched on the sidelines of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montréal, with US, Canada, UK, France, & Germany. See Media Release by Minister for Resources Madelaine King: Australia joins global commitment to ESG for critical minerals (DCCEEW) See Canadian Minister Wilkinson makes a critical minerals announcement at COP15 (Youtube)



The Australian Government has signed up to a range of international initiatives that are aligned with the proposed action-oriented targets in the post-2020 GBF. These include:

The Australian Annual Climate Statement for 2022 summarises the environment and biodiversity as:

Australia’s biodiversity and ecosystems are among the most diverse on Earth. Australia’s unique biodiversity is part of our national identity and fundamental to the health of our environment, economy and communities. However, the 2021 State of the Environment report concludes that the condition of Australia’s natural environment is poor and deteriorating.

Australia has one of the highest rates of extinction in the world, and climate change is having a widespread impact on natural ecosystems. It is driving changes in the distribution and behaviour of species, reducing food and shelter availability, altering the composition and functioning of ecological communities, and worsening the impact of other threats to biodiversity, such as invasive pests and habitat destruction. At least 19 Australian ecosystems are showing signs of collapse or near collapse (CSIRO & BOM 2022).

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Tracking Environment Minister Plibersek

18 December...

Reaffirmation of High Seas Treaty to safeguard marine Biodiversity...

Time to end plastic pollution...

A critical moment...

Put Money on the table...

Catching up with Samoa and Vanuatu and the problem of ocean plastic pollution...

Bilateral discussions with India and Indonesia....

David Pocock, Independant Senator for the ACT is there...

Australia has stepped up it's game, but whether we are doing enough....

In the evening Plenary of 16 December Environment Minister delivered Australia's national statement to COP15:

  

See the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) report on this speech: Australia Commits To Nature Positive Transformation, Supports One Pacific Voice (SPREP)

17 December...

Meeting with UNESCO including discussion on Great Barrier Reef future....

Fellow Greens meet up...

Tanya Plibersek announces Australia will host a global meeting of the world’s environment ministers and business leaders in 2024. More detail at The Age report

16 December....



December 15: Australia-US pact signed on measuring nature's economic value.
See Joint Statement of the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia on Cooperation on Natural Capital Accounting, Environmental- Economic Accounting, and Related Statistics (whitehouse.gov)

Excerpt:

The Participants intend a common approach to Natural Capital Accounting, Environmental-Economic Accounting, and Environmental-Economic Statistics in ways that are guided by the UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) framework. The Participants intend to share experiences, methods and learnings on various topics that the Participants have in common including:

  • Accounting for large and biodiverse spatial areas with sizable and diverse land and water interests,
  • Coordinating across multiple states and territories, and
  • Weaving in diverse cultures, including Indigenous Peoples.

The Participants intend to facilitate opportunities for global leadership and agenda setting on natural capital accounting and nature-based solutions and to encourage other nations to incorporate nature into economic decision making.

The Participants intend to advance this agenda through:

       A Senior Official Dialogue

Participants intend to hold an annual dialogue by Senior Officials or their designated representatives on natural capital accounts, environmental-economic statistics, and nature-based solutions, with Participants alternating coordination and hosting of the dialogue virtually or in-person.

The dialogue is expected to be an opportunity for Senior Officials from relevant departments and agencies in each country to:  share their progress on implementing natural capital accounts and environmental-economic statistics; discuss their policies to combat nature loss and environmental management; embed nature and climate change in economic planning and forecasting; and explore related matters of mutual interest.

     A Technical Working Group

Given the breadth of expertise required to develop natural capital accounts and environmental-economic statistics, the Participants intend to convene a Technical Working Group comprised of experts to share learnings, leverage expertise, solve common challenges, and work toward comparability of approaches. The Technical Working Group is expected to convene every six months virtually or in-person, and the Participants intend to alternate coordination and chairing of the Technical Working Group meetings.

     Global Leadership

The Participants intend to work with other nations and seek to create and coordinate a high‑-ambition group of participating countries to encourage a common approach to natural capital accounting, environmental-economic statistics, and investment in nature-based solutions.

Australia joins Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance

Except of Minister's Media Release:

Members of the group commit to voluntarily working to develop and use critical minerals that:

  • Employ a nature forward approach by collaborating with industry on practices that prevent biodiversity loss, protect species at risk and support nature protection, including driving towards net-positive benefits to the natural environment;
  • Support local and Indigenous communities by promoting safe working conditions and responsible labour standards, diverse and inclusive workforces, supporting Indigenous and local community benefits, and respecting the rights of local and Indigenous peoples;
  • Help fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working towards achieving net-zero emissions by no later than 2050 by promoting net-zero mining practices;
  • Restore ecosystems by adopting requirements for reclamation and remediation to close and return mine sites to their natural state, and holding responsible parties accountable for environmental harm; and
  • Build a circular economy by accelerating the reuse and recycling of critical minerals, which may reduce the number of new mines to supply the minerals needed.

"Will there be teeth to that? For the moment it's more like a memorandum," said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist, Greenpeace Canada in a Reuters report.

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Resources:

Tracking COP15

* Sign up to the COP15 daily briefing here

* Check latest UN CBD documents here 

* Follow the main CBD site here

* Watch CBD-Live on Youtube

* Follow Carbon Brief's nature team at COP15 here


COP15 - in numbers
50% - of global GDP depends on healthy and well-functioning ecosystems

60% - number of people globally worried about nature loss, says WWF

110 - countries backing goal to conserve 30% of the planet's land and oceans by 2030

$1.5tr - investments in nature required by 2030 to meet 1.5C warming limit
$711bn - annual gap in finance for the protection and restoration of nature

1.5C limit - impossible without stopping deforestation

50-70k - plant species used in traditional or modern medicine

96% - amount of mammals humans & our livestock account for on earth

22% - amount of global world's Key Biodiversity Areas protected by indigenous groups

$300m - criminal gains generated annually from illegal wildlife trade and logging


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