Pacific voices heard at the UN Biodiversity Convention virtual informal session

Suva, FIJI – February 23, 2021: 10.30am: (SPREP) – A virtual informal session provided 2000 pre-registered participants the opportunity to exchange opinions on key items for the formal 24th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24) UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) scheduled for later this year. 

The informal meeting was an opportunity for Parties to discuss key agenda items for developing the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will be further reviewed for adoption at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) of the CBD. 

Pacific island countries attended the virtual session held on 17-19 February last week, and Gwen Sisior from the Republic of Palau expressed concern regarding issues she hopes SBSTTA 24 can address in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. 

“We have noted many times that for those in the Pacific, the framework must have robust marine targets and indicators.  Oceans cover 70% of the planet and for the largest ocean region, the Pacific, a healthy ocean is intrinsic to our lives and livelihoods. So, we believe that for the framework to be successful, it must put the ocean on the path to recovery, supporting healthy ecosystems, thriving species, and human well-being. We need an Ocean which is 100% responsibly managed that supports the three objectives of the Convention,” Sisior said. 

Sisior noted that marine issues often seemed as an afterthought when reading the draft framework and preparatory materials, lacking proper emphasis on marine objectives, especially under Target 2: biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems. 

“We would like to highlight that many countries, including my own, support text in the framework to protect and conserve at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. We hope that this critical element will be clearly reflected in future documents such that there is no ambiguity that both marine and terrestrial are encompassed,” Sisior added during the informal session. 

SPREP has a long history of, and continues to, play an important role in supporting Pacific island countries to have a strong voice in negotiations related to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and 2021 will be a significant year with final negotiations for the Global Biodiversity Framework. SPREP will be hosting a series of regional preparatory meetings in partnership with the CBD Secretariat and UN Environment, and providing support throughout the formal CBD meetings. 

While no negotiations or decisions could be taken during the informal meeting, it was an opportunity for Parties and observers to discuss important agenda items and concerns regarding the framework. 

The meeting representatives will convene again 24-26 February where important Pacific island topics of coastal and marine, invasive species, and mainstreaming biodiversity issues will be discussed. 

The SBSTTA is the intergovernmental body responsible for providing scientific, technical and technological advice related to the implementation of the Convention. It assesses the current status of the world’s biodiversity to highlight issues faced in order to identify solutions which are shared through the Convention with the global community. 

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. It opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force in December 1993. Currently there are 196 Parties to the Convention. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change.

 

For more information contact Ms Amanda Wheatley, Biodiversity Adviser at SPREP, at amandaw@sprep.org

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