During December 7- 19, 190 country representatives, members of civil society and delegates met for the UN Biodiversity Conference or COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The meeting was set to deliberate the new global biodiversity framework, establishing the biodiversity goals for the next decade. After two weeks of slow deliberation, the COP15 members signed the new “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” agreement. The agreement included four goals and 23 key targets for biodiversity action aligning with the 2030 agenda.
As laid out in a recent article by Navdanya International, The Convention on Biological Diversity Must Resist the Commodification of Life, this CBD was crucial for providing protection against the increased attempts by multinationals to greenwash new biotechnologies, implement the further financialization of nature, and dilute biodiversity governance to allow for the greater privatization of life.
And although the new agreement has been hailed by many as the “Paris Agreement for biodiversity”, Dr. Vandana Shiva, President of Navdanya International, points out the dilution of the CBD’s role in biodiversity conservation, especially in the face of increasing corporate influence: “Thirty years after the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was signed into being, the conclusions of the COP 15 signal a dilution, delay, and weakening of the obligations made. The CBD was a commitment to conserve biodiversity everywhere, and this framework falls into the corporate trap of 30×30.”
Here she references Targets 1, 2 and 3 which set the goal to protect thirty percent of land, and ocean areas for biodiversity conservation, and restoration. These goals were already under much controversy before the COP15, as fears of further land grabbing under the guise of biodiversity conservation on one hand. And on the other, the goal of thirty percent not being enough in the face of mass biodiversity decline. The worry is that with little to no corporate accountability layed out in the document, the 30×30 target is easily diluted. Especially considering the failure to reach any of the Aichi targets set for 2020, which only set out to protect ten percent.
Concerns have also been raised at the agreement’s failure to mention the greatest vector for biodiversity loss, industrial agriculture. The most the issue is mentioned is in Target 7, which references pesticide reduction as necessary for curbing pollution. But this brief mention fails to address the other multidimensional effects agribusiness has had in the destruction of biodiversity, including the effects of GMOs on the erosion of biodiversity, monocultures, and genetic erosion of species. The framework also does not make any mention of regulation of new gene edited gmos, gene drives and other genetic manipulation techniques that could have detrimental consequences on biodiversity. To this, Dr. Shiva remarks, “The CBD and the Cartagena Protocol were supposed to regulate GMOs for Biosafety, but instead, in these thirty years, GMOs have decimated biodiversity. Not addressing this impact, which was part of the original mandate, is a failing. This failing is particularly worrying given that everywhere GMOs are being deregulated. The CBD has a role in arresting this deregulation, which it has not taken.”
Agreements on increased funding by global north countries were also made, with emphasis on removing public subsidies, and increasing public programs, but also in line was the call for private finance schemes to be used. “Even though Biodiversity offsets and financialisation are not directly mentioned, the doors have been opened by this agreement,” states Dr. Shiva. Meaning, instead of corporate accountability, the new framework opens the doors to corporate greenwashed solutions, such as “Nature-Based Solutions”, “sustainable intensification”, biodiversity credits, green bonds, and other “innovative schemes”, which risk a greater financialization of nature.
Lastly, the issue of Digital Sequence Information (DSI), violating the Nagoya protocol by allowing actors to bypass benefits sharing and access frameworks, was only marginally addressed. Establishing in Target 13 only a vague goal for the strengthening of benefits sharing without addressing the issue of patentability of DSI and its links to new biotechnologies. Dr Shiva remarked on this issue, “The acknowledgement of indigenous knowledge and rights, in the framework is welcome. However, the failure to take into account the continuing biopiracy and violation of the Nagoya Protocol, especially through Digital Sequencing Information, is still a major concern.”
Thumbnail photo credits: Navdanya