Guest Article #3

The Nagoya Biodiversity Compact

In early May 2010, the world received a wake-up call. Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, based on the best available scientific evidence and drawing from 120 national reports of Parties to the Convention, warned of the consequences of our current development path. The continuing loss of species and habitats, predicted to accelerate under the growing impact of climate change, has placed so much pressure on the life-supporting ecosystems of our world, that many risk passing a “tipping point.” We were reminded that the status of biodiversity for millions of years to come will be determined by the actions that human society takes in the coming decades.

Under the leadership of Japan, the world responded. Last October, 18,500 participants representing 193 Parties and their partners adopted the Nagoya Biodiversity Compact comprising: a global and comprehensive biodiversity strategy for 2011-2020, known as the Aichi Targets; the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising out of their Utilization; the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; and the Strategy for Resource Mobilization in support of the three objectives of the Convention.

Importantly, the Aichi Targets were endorsed by the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly as the strategic plan of the whole biodiversity family. Moreover, the 650 participants at the October 2010 Nagoya Summit on Cities and Biodiversity agreed to translate the Aichi Targets into action plans at the city level. To this end, a Singapore urban biodiversity index, tested out in 34 cities, was endorsed in Nagoya. Over 120 parliamentarians from around the world also agreed to endorse the Aichi Targets, in the Nagoya Declaration on Parliamentarians and Biodiversity, while a Multi-Year Plan of Action on South-South Cooperation on Biodiversity for Development was adopted by the Group of 77 and China in support of the Aichi Targets. In addition, representatives of 34 bilateral and multilateral donor agencies agreed to translate the plan into their respective development cooperation priorities. At the Ecosystems Pavilion, heads of agencies and international organizations discussed ways to better integrate actions to combat biodiversity loss, climate change and land degradation.

To support developing countries in implementing the Nagoya Biodiversity Compact, Japan established the Japan Biodiversity Fund. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan committed US$2 billion for the next three years to financing biodiversity projects. Additional financial resources were announced by France, the European Union and Norway, with nearly US$110 million being mobilized in support of projects under the CBD LifeWeb Initiative, which aims at enhancing the Protected Area agenda. Parties will define mechanisms in time for the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP 11) in India in 2012, through which additional financial resources can be identified and channelled.

In order to engage people across the world beyond 2010, on the recommendation of the Nagoya meeting, the 65th session of the UN General Assembly declared 2011-2020 the UN Decade on Biodiversity. The Decade is beginning with a new wave of national biodiversity planning. A series of regional workshops is taking place to assist countries in translating the Aichi Targets into National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) before COP 11. And there is no time to waste, for any delay in developing new NBSAPs will augur poorly for the achievement of the Aichi Targets.

In addition to revising NBSAPs, the signing and ratification of the Nagoya Protocol is an urgent topic. The CBD Secretariat and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) are working to ensure that the first meeting of the governing body of this historic instrument will take place in India in October 2012 back-to-back with COP 11. To this end 50 ratifications are required before 19 July 2012. The Nagoya–Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol also is open for signature, and will enter into force 90 days after the deposit of the 40th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession.

There is much to be done, for the task the world set itself in Nagoya was ambitious. It will require leadership and creative thinking from the international community to ensure the timely delivery of the Aichi Targets at the national and regional level.  And yet no task today is more urgent. For biodiversity is life…biodiversity is our life.