It is now inevitable yet still deeply disappointing that I shall have to report postponements of major conservation initiatives over the coming days. Today's has particular symbolism. October 2020 was supposed to be the month the world made a renewed commitment to tackle the biodiversity crisis. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been working to develop an ambitious global framework of action for the next decade, with two rounds of negotiation left in May and July before the final COP15 (Conference of Parties) meeting in Kunming, China, this October.
Given the current global situation of COVID-19, the CBD secretariat has understandably announced that there will likely be a postponement of the negotiations process in May 2020. We assume (but do not know) that this will have knock-on impacts to the timing of the following July working group and potentially even the October COP15.
There are also other implications across the year, with uncertainty around key meetings such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress in June, the climate change (UNFCCC) process, and summits such as the G7 and G20. As a result, the public and political space that we were expecting to use to elevate nature as a political priority will shift dramatically.
Many have been working tirelessly - devoting time, effort, and enthusiasm into making the 2020 summit a success. It is distressing for all, but, we need to stay motivated. The process will continue and we retain the desire for an ambitious global agreement for nature even if it is later than we were expecting.
I shall leave the final words to my colleague Georgina Chandler who has been leading the RSPB's efforts as part of the BirdLife International delegation.
"If the whole process is delayed and the COP15 postponed, it is even more important that we use time effectively. We might not be able to recreate some of the political opportunities from this year, but we can take stock and evaluate; ultimately channelling our efforts into solving the issues that could benefit most. This is especially true for implementation issues such as: resource mobilisation, capacity building, monitoring and reporting, and accountability. We can be creative about how we collaborate; hosting webinars and online discussions, commissioning research, and co-creating concrete options – especially on financing and strengthening implementation and accountability."
If we use our time right and dedicate it to finding solutions, then we can make the outcomes from COP15 - whenever it is held - as strong as possible to put humans on a path to living in harmony with nature.
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