UN talks on biodiversity targets slow

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UN talks on biodiversity targets slow

June 25, 2022

Negotiations are due to end on Sunday

With just two days left to work out a draft UN agreement to protect global biodiversity, organizers on Friday urged delegates in Nairobi to “pick up the pace”.

“We cannot afford to spend hours discussing a single line of text,” Basile van Havre, one of the talks’ two co-chairs, told Reuters.

Negotiations are due to end on Sunday, with the draft agreement expected to be adopted in December by governments at a key biodiversity summit, known as “COP15”.

But “at the current rate as we have seen, it will not be possible to have text messages [ready] for COP15,” Co-Chair Francis Ogwal said during a plenary session on Friday.

Although delegates previously met in Geneva to complete the drafting of the “post-2020 global biodiversity framework”, they failed to finalize the text for adoption at COP15.

Instead, they arranged to meet again in Kenya, but the Nairobi talks now threaten to be a repeat of past failures.

Progress is “very slow and insignificant”, Ogwal said, stressing the need for compromise on the details of 21 biodiversity protection targets. These range from countries retaining 30% of their territory to reducing harmful agricultural subsidies.

Animal and plant species are currently disappearing at a rate not seen for 10 million years. Scientists say we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction event, driven by human consumption.

“To some parties it seems like an intentional delaying tactic,” said Brian O’Donnell, director of the nonprofit nature conservation campaign, “others are making a concerted effort to try to improve the text. However, when you have over 190 countries each trying to use their own wording, it becomes incredibly cumbersome.”

Brazil has been accused of intentionally blocking negotiations on food systems reform, “introducing last-minute proposals and watering down ambition”, said Marco Lambertini, chief executive of World Wildlife Fund International.

Talks have also been derailed by delegations seeking to add up to four new goals, including one on biodiversity and health.

“Now is not the time to add new goals,” a representative from China, which holds the COP presidency, told the plenary.

Source: Reuters