COP15 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE EU'S CHIEF NEGOTIATOR: WE HAVE A CHANCE TO PUSH THROUGH A STRONG AGREEMENT ON BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION AND RESTORATIONPublished: Dec 12, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
The UN Conference on Biodiversity COP15 is underway in Montreal, where governments from around the world are discussing new targets for biodiversity conservation for the next decade. Ladislav Miko from the Czech Ministry of the Environment leads the European Union delegation. He is determined to push for very ambitious biodiversity targets.
From your perspective as the lead negotiator for the EU, what is the biggest opportunity for COP15?
The Czech Presidency is building upon the agreed European position, which is very ambitious. The aim is to reach a firm agreement on the protection of biodiversity, with the key focus being the expansion of areas under a certain level of protection, as well as the preservation and expansion of sites suitable for the protection of animals and plants in commonly used landscapes. The agreed position foresees announced targets of 30% protected areas on land and a further 30% at sea. However, whether an agreement can be reached on this figure is uncertain. Similarly, it is uncertain whether the whole framework can be agreed upon in time to meet the 2030 deadline, especially when we have lost two years to the pandemic.
Can you briefly describe the key themes of COP15?
Of course, restoring biodiversity and reducing the negative impacts of human activity on nature, particularly reducing pollution, reducing the global use of pesticides or reducing plastic waste. It will be both crucial and challenging to negotiate a monitoring system and indicators against which to measure progress in implementing the agreement.
What is the most significant benefit of COP15 taking place during the Czech Presidency?
For the Czech Republic, negotiating the Global Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity is very prestigious. However, it is far more important that the conference can finally take place after two years of postponements due to the pandemic. This gives us a chance to agree on a plan for the next ten years or so for the protection and, above all, the restoration of biodiversity.
Climate change has been at the forefront in recent years. But it is closely linked to biodiversity loss, is it not?
Climate protection and the protection and restoration of biodiversity share several important aspects, approaches based on diverse ecosystems help to protect the climate substantially because they can reduce emissions by around 10 Gt of carbon dioxide per year. However, climate protection must not negatively impact biodiversity, for example, if we turn diverse forests into a monoculture source of energy crops.
How does the outcome of COP27 affect the COP15 agenda?
In its outcome document, this year's COP27 in Egypt directly mentions ocean and forest ecosystem services in the context of climate protection. However, the financial issue—resources for so-called "loss and damage," i.e., to remedy droughts, floods, fires, and other impacts of climate change—resonated above all. In the end, countries decided to create a new fund with voluntary contributions. A similar debate can be expected on investment in species diversity protection. This need not be entirely new resources, or new institutions need not be built to provide funding, but rather existing ones— such as the Global Environment Facility or the Green Climate Fund—need to be used to best effect.
Commentary by Jan Mrkvička, Director of the Humanitarian Relief and Development Department of PIN, on the Green Climate Fund:
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a vital instrument that finances projects to help slow the planet's warming and adapt to the change that is occurring and will inevitably happen. At COP27, however, there was strong criticism of GCF officials. The designated 50% share for adaptation, which developing countries are most concerned about, is not being achieved. It is often unclear to the representatives of these governments how to access funding in practice. Part of the problem lies in the fact that to draw on the Fund, one must undergo an accreditation process. Only 72 institutions worldwide have completed this process. Most of these are banks, funds, ministries or UN agencies.
Unfortunately, NGOs that can prepare and implement specific adaptation projects with clear results together with local institutions in the poorest countries are virtually absent from the accreditation. Not that they are excluded. According to the GCF representative, it is simply not happening. People in Need, for example, applied for accreditation in 2019, and after successfully passing the first round, GCF representatives went silent. Dozens of other organisations are in a similar situation.