The 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference opens in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with over eight thousand delegates; including representatives from the Convention’s 196 Parties, civil society groups, private sector, sub-national governments and local communities.
The two-week conference, which is expected to renew ambition to achieve global biodiversity targets by 2020, began on November 18th with an opening address by the President of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, who emphasized the crucial importance of the meeting for global efforts, towards sustainable development.
At this year’s conference, national governments, regional organizations, and other key stakeholders from around the world will engage in intense discussions, with the aim of making a final push to achieve agreed upon global biodiversity targets for 2020 – established in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and to start the momentum for an ambitious and achievable post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity; Dr. Cristiana Paşca Palmer emphasized the critical urgency for the international community to work together to preserve global biodiversity.
“If we do not act now, we soon may reach tipping points that may cause irreversible destruction to nature and ultimately to humankind”, she said.
Minister of Environment of Egypt and Chair of the Conference; H.E. Yasmine Fouad was also quoted as saying: “Nature and humanity are not separate entities, and Africa is leading the way on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework”.
Regional reports and other assessments from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), released in March, showed that in every region, with the exception of a number of positive examples where lessons can be learned, biodiversity and nature’s capacity to contribute to people are being degraded, reduced and lost due to a number of common pressures – habitat stress; overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources; air, land and water pollution; increasing numbers and impact of invasive alien species and climate change, among others.
The Living Planet Report 2018 by WWF also found that worldwide vertebrate populations are currently set to decline by 60 percent from their 1970 levels by 2020.
On this note, discussions at the conference will seek to expand coalition of actors to explore innovative approaches and find ways of scaling and accelerating initiatives to protect nature. Deliberations on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, labeling, transport and handling of GMOs, as well as the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources will also feature during the course of the conference.
In addition, governments will look at the impacts of new biotechnologies such as synthetic biology and gene drive technologies on nature. The potential of these to protect biodiversity as well as to cause unintended harmful effects will be discussed, as will the suitability of existing regulatory frameworks.
The need to increase protection of ecosystems of the world in a way that is extensive, effective as well as inclusive and involves indigenous peoples and local communities will also be under consideration.
The meeting also looks at discussing other effective area based conservation measures (OECMs) that extend models of conservation and sustainable use, beyond traditional models of protected areas.
Thematic issues scheduled for parallel forums at the two-week conference includes;
- Synergies on sustainable development, biodiversity, climate change, and combating desertification and land degradation.
- Innovations, technologies, and solutions for the conservation of biodiversity.
- Sustainable use for conservation and livelihoods – This forum will share experiences and seek creative solutions to issues associated with the health and security of people and wildlife, the wild meat crisis, and unsustainable use of wildlife.
- Achievements made over finding synergies between biological and cultural diversity, and between science and indigenous knowledge systems.
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