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Biodiversity in suspense

By our executive director, Simone Lovera

Halfway the second week, everybody is holding its breath here at the Biodiversity Conference of the Parties: Will the 10th Conference of the Parties end up in a Copenhagen-style collapse? Or will this “softer”  Rio Convention succeed to fulfil its mandate and come up with 1) a strong protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing that has enough teeth to really prevent biopiracy, 2) a Strategic plan that includes strong and well-considered targets to halt biodiversity loss, which is critical for the survival of millions of people and life on earth itself, and 3) the new and additional financial resources that are necessary for that? And, perhaps more importantly, will the results of this conference be weak and meaningless, the typical product of a corporate-dominated process, or will they actually include some significant breakthroughs?

Even the latter is still possible: as we write, a far-reaching moratorium on geo-engineering could still be adopted, some of the draft recommendations regarding agrofuels are definitely worth the paper they are written on (others, admittedly, are not) and in general many of the biodiversity negotiators have shown a remarkable concern about the possible impacts of climate change mitigation measures on not only biodiversity, but also people and their land rights.

If one compares this process with the FCCC negotiations, the differences are absolutely notable. The rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, for example, are mentioned all over all the draft decisions. A gender mainstreaming strategy was adopted, and a plan to provide more coherence between poverty eradication efforts and biodiversity conservation.

But as always, in the last rushed hours a lot can be lost. One fundamental issue was already lost yesterday: the CBD seriously weakened its commitment to promote “improved definitions of forests”.

Instead, a text refering to the old decision to “ collaborate”  in reviewing forest definitions was adopted, which is a set-back of more than 2 years….it is clear the CBD is not planning to play a lead role in this issue that is so crucial for the future of the world’s forests. And while many of the references to the need to plant native trees and avoid the conversion of precious ecosystems in the text on climate change are worthwhile, all these texts could still be deleted during the tense and polarized negotiations that will continue tonight – and undoubtedly until Saturday morning early.

9 Nov, 2010
Posted in Supporting Community Conservation, Forests, trees and climate change