What is the Convention on Biodiversity?

The 1992 United Nations Convection on Biodiveristy (CBD) aims to prevent and reverse global biodiversity loss. The fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP15) is due to take place 2022.

The CBD has three objectives:  conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use and the equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of global biodiversity’s genetic resources.

COP15: a post 2020 global biodiversity framework

COP15 was originally due to take place in 2021, but postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic

The main aim of COP15 is to agree a post 2020 global biodiversity framework as a successor to the strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020. The first official draft of the post-2020 framework was published by the CDP in July 2021

The first part of the conference took place virtually on 11-15 October 2021.  The second part of the conference was scheduled to take start in Kunming, China, on 25 April 2021. However, Defra has said that COP15 is likely to be postponed and the CBD website states it will take place in the third quarter of 2022.

What was the outcome of the October 2021 virtual COP15?

A Kunming declaration  was agreed at the conference. This stressed the need for urgent and integrated action to address biodiversity loss and policy coherence at all levels of government. This included a commitment to ensure:

a reversal of the current loss of biodiversity and ensure that biodiversity is put on a path to recovery by 2030 at the latest, towards the full realization of the 2050 Vision of “Living in Harmony with Nature”.

On a national level the signatories agreed to accelerate and strengthen the development and update of national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

There have been a number of other international agreements at international level in the run up to COP15.  This includes a Leaders Pledge agreed at the UN Biodiversity Summit in September 2020 to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. A High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People at the COP26 Climate Conference in November 2030 set a 30×30 goal of protecting at least 30 percent of world’s land and ocean by 2030. The UK Government is signatory to both.

UK Biodiversity Policy

The UK Government has produced a number of actions plans and strategies on biodiversity.  A Biodiversity Action Plan 1992-2012 was published in 1994. This was followed by Biodiversity 2020 a strategic plan for biodiversity in England, in 2011.  The Government is expected to publish a Nature Recovery Green Paper for England in due course that it states will “ set out proposals to better enable us to recover nature and achieve our goal to protect 30% of our land and sea for nature by 2030”.

The Government also publishes annual biodiversity indicators for England. The latest assessment of biodiversity indicators was published in March 2022. The table below looks at progress for a selection of indicators:

Source: DEFRA, England biodiversity indicators: 2021 assessment, (March 2022)

Short-term change is normally assessed over five years. Long-term change is over the longest time period available, in all the indicators above this is more than ten years.

The Natural History Museum published a Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) in October 2021. This found that globally biodiversity intactness was only 75%.

The UK’s BII was 53%, placing it in the bottom 10% of countries and making it one of the least biodiverse countries in Europe.

Further information on UK policy can be found in the In Focus briefing on biodiversity from the House of Lords Library  Further information is also available in the PostNote on effective biodiversity indicators and the PostBrief on biodiversity indicators. These include details of policy in the devolved administrations.

The Environmental Audit Select Committee has published two recent reports on biodiversity:

The reports includes recommendations for the Government on both UK and international policy, including the negotiation position the UK should take at COP15.

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