At the end of 2022, the 15th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity culminated in a new Global Biodiversity Framework to 2030. Twenty three targets require broad based action to bring about “a transformation in our societies’ relationship with biodiversity by 2030, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled”. Post COP, governments are to explore how they can translate the targets into national action, with financial institutions, business and a range of actors in society being key to successfully deliver the framework in practice. This is a huge opportunity for the global financial sector and for business, to engage proactively and lead transformative investment and action, in advance of increased regulation. Three years into the decisive decade, the scale of the twin biodiversity and climate change crises is immense: achievement will rely on substantive, consistent and coherent policy measures together with significant financial investment from the public and private sectors. For all businesses, an understanding of the targets and the proposed implementation of them will be increasingly important to support asset valuation, harness opportunities and reduce risk.
The Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
The key outcomes from COP15 saw the adoption of a new set of international targets and goals for biodiversity called the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (the “GBF”). A total of 188 governments agreed to the GBF which laid down 23 individual global targets to 2030 and four overarching goals to 2050.
The targets are wide ranging and alongside the anticipated 30x30 commitments to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030, if properly implemented, more will be required of business such as target 15 to take all measures to “encourage and enable business, and in particular to ensure that large and transnational companies and financial institutions:
(a) Regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity including with requirements for all large as well as transnational companies and financial institutions along their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios;
(b) Provide information needed to consumers to promote sustainable consumption patterns;
(c) Report on compliance with access and benefit-sharing regulations and measures, as applicable;
in order to progressively reduce negative impacts on biodiversity, increase positive impacts, reduce biodiversity-related risks to business and financial institutions, and promote actions to ensure sustainable patterns of production.”
More too will be expected of governments prompted by target 14 “Ensure the full integration of biodiversity and its multiple values into policies, regulations, planning and development processes, poverty eradication strategies, strategic environmental assessments, environmental impact assessments and, as appropriate, national accounting, within and across all levels of government and across all sectors…progressively aligning all relevant public and private activities, fiscal and financial flows with the goals and targets of this framework” and target 18 “Identify by 2025, and eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies harmful for biodiversity..”
Unsurprisingly funding features as a target to “substantially and progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources, in an effective, timely and easily accessible manner, including domestic, international, public and private resources, to implement national biodiversity strategies and action plans…,,by 2030 mobilizing at least 200 billion United States dollars per year…”
The 23 individual targets, listed at the end of this summary, are tied into the 4 overarching goals.
The integrity, connectivity and resilience of all ecosystems are maintained, enhanced, or restored, substantially increasing the area of natural ecosystems by 2050;
Human induced extinction of known threatened species is halted, and, by2050, extinction rate and risk of all species are reduced tenfold, and the abundance of native wild species is increased to healthy and resilient levels;
The genetic diversity within populations of wild and domesticated species, is maintained, safeguarding their adaptive potential.
Biodiversity is sustainably used and managed and nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem functions and services, are valued, maintained and enhanced, with those currently in decline being restored, supporting the achievement of sustainable development, for the benefit of present and future generations by 2050.
The monetary and non-monetary benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources, and of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, as applicable, are shared fairly and equitably, including, as appropriate with indigenous peoples and local communities, and substantially increased by 2050, while ensuring traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources is appropriately protected, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, in accordance with internationally agreed access and benefit-sharing instruments.
Adequate means of implementation, including financial resources, capacity-building, technical and scientific cooperation, and access to and transfer of technology to fully implement the GBF are secured and equitably accessible to all Parties, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition, progressively closing the biodiversity finance gap of $700 billion per year, and aligning financial flows with the GBF and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity.
Alongside the GBF, COP15 resulted in many other “decision texts” being agreed; these lay out more technical aspects of the negotiations, including monitoring systems and resource mobilisation including a GBF Fund, to complement existing support and scale up financing.
The GBF requires countries to monitor and report on their progress against the goals every five years. The aim of this implementation approach is to avoid the same failures that accompanied the targets set at COP10, where no single target was globallyachieved.
The text clearly identifies that the GBF, including its Vision, Mission, Goals and Targets, is to be understood, acted upon, implemented, reported and evaluated, consistent with a number of guiding principles. These include:
Contribution and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities as custodians of biodiversity and partners in the conservation, restoration and sustainable use: Rights, knowledge, including traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity, innovations, worldviews, values and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities are respected, documented, preserved with their free, prior and informed consent, including through their full and effective participation in decision-making, in accordance with relevant national legislation, international instruments.
Different value systems: Nature embodies different concepts for different people, including biodiversity, ecosystems, Mother Earth, and systems of life. Nature’s contributions to people also embody different concepts, such as ecosystem goods and services and nature’s gifts. Both nature and nature’s contributions to people are vital for human existence and good quality of life, including human well-being, living in harmony with nature, living well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth. The GBF recognizes and considers these diverse value systems and concepts, including, for those countries that recognize them, rights of nature and rights of Mother Earth, as being an integral part of its successful implementation.
Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach: A GBF for all - for the whole of government and the whole of society. Its success requires political will and recognition at the highest level of government, and relies on action and cooperation by all levels of government and by all actors of society.
National circumstances, priorities and capabilities: The goals and targets of the GBF are global in nature. Each Party will contribute to attaining the goals and targets, in accordance with national circumstances, priorities and capabilities.
Funding will be key to delivery on the post 2020 biodiversity pathway as acknowledged by some of the countries in the global South where assurances were sought on the provision of sufficient resources from the global North to meet the ambitions, a notable tension during the discussions. A recent report by the UNEP recognised that with sufficient finance, nature-based solutions (NbS) provide the means to cost-effectively reach climate, biodiversity and land degradation neutrality targets. However, with nature-negative expenditures far outweighing investments in NbS it called for the rapid alignment of policies, regulation, economic activity and financial flows with biodiversity values and with the Paris Agreement. Expressly, the report states that private sector investment must increase by several orders of magnitude in the coming years from the current US$26 billion per year, which represents only 17 per cent of total NbS investment.
The Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) are presently consulting on biodiversity disclosure recommendations scheduled for finalisation in September and which whilst initially voluntary, are likely to become mandatory in the near term in some jurisdictions for large businesses.
Positive obligations for biodiversity should therefore be anticipated, with companies, financial institutions, and their supply chains being considered key actors in the implementation of the GBF.
See the full list of the 23 targets here.
Article co-authored by Alexandra Brown, Trainee Solicitor at CMS.