Conserving biodiversity and stopping the catastrophic collapse in species is a global effort. It’s no surprise that significant international efforts have emerged to streamline biodiversity policies in different countries, mainstreaming their implementation at a global level. These international developments are genuinely exciting and could mark the beginning of a new, global effort to tackle the decline of nature.
As we have set out in previous blogs, biodiversity as a concept is rooted in international law, with the very term ‘biodiversity’ defined in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. It is therefore no surprise that biodiversity policy is being driven by internationally agreed goals.
New International Goals
Held from December 7-19, 2022, the COP15 summit at Montreal's Palais des Congrès marked significant advancements in international biodiversity policy.
Convened under UN auspices, chaired by China, and hosted by Canada, the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) brought together representatives from 188 governments on-site. In total, 196 Parties to the UN CBD participated, contributing to 95% of attendance. The United States and The Vatican were the only other non-Parties in attendance. The COP15 aimed to finalise and endorse measures to halt the ongoing loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity globally. Participating parties adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), which included four goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030.
To date, these goals are the most ambitious the UN has agreed upon concerning biodiversity. The four goals include:
GOAL A - Protecting and Conserving Ecosystems
- Maintain, enhance, or restore the integrity, connectivity, and resilience of all ecosystems, significantly increasing the area of natural ecosystems by 2050.
- Halt human-induced extinction of known threatened species, reduce extinction rate and risk of all species tenfold by 2050, and increase the abundance of native wild species to healthy, resilient levels.
- Preserve genetic diversity within populations of wild and domesticated species, safeguarding their adaptive potential.
GOAL B - Promoting Sustainable Use
Sustainably use and manage biodiversity, value and enhance nature's contributions to people, including ecosystem functions and services. Restore those in decline to support sustainable development for present and future generations by 2050.
GOAL C - Ensuring Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing
Share monetary and non-monetary benefits from utilising genetic resources and digital sequence information fairly and equitably. This includes indigenous peoples, local communities, and substantially increased sharing by 2050. Ensure traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources is appropriately protected, contributing to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
GOAL D - Mainstreaming biodiversity across society
Secure means of implementation, including financial resources, capacity-building, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer. Ensure equitable access for all Parties, especially developing countries, closing the biodiversity finance gap of $700 billion annually, and aligning financial flows with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity.
New Changes in International Standards
These trends are led by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), specifically ISO/TC 331. This technical committee focuses on 'Standardisation in the field of Biodiversity to develop principles, framework, requirements, guidance, and supporting tools in a holistic and global approach for all organisations to enhance their contribution to Sustainable Development.' Established in June 2020, the committee now includes 36 member countries and 20 observers.
This collaborative effort aims to create international standards, technical reports, and publicly available specifications contributing to sustainable development. As of August 2023, the committee is working on four different work strands:
- ISO/WD TS 13208 ‘Biodiversity — Vocabulary’
- ISO/CD 17298 ‘Biodiversity — Strategic and operational approach for organisations-- Requirements and guidelines’
- ISO/WD 17317 ‘Biodiversity — Guide for the characterization of products derived from native species’
- ISO/WD 17620 ‘Biodiversity — Process for designing and implementing biodiversity net gain’
Of course, these aren't the sole international developments. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) formulated a policy on Biodiversity Offsets. This policy provides a framework guiding the design, implementation, and governance of biodiversity offset schemes and projects. In line with the Global Biodiversity Framework, IUCN's World Commission of Protected Areas (WCPA) recently introduced a guide aimed at conserving at least 30% of the Earth by 2030. Emphasising the role of Indigenous peoples and local communities, this guide serves as a practical manual for government planners, policymakers, and community groups. The IUCN's critical advice and support for the ISO make tracking their proposals and ideas worthwhile.
Biodiversity policy may have its origins in international law, yet it has taken considerable time to transform the concepts and ideas that emerged in 1992 into a set of tangible and ambitious international targets. Developments in the past few months are genuinely exciting—the synergy of international goals and standards could lay the foundation for a genuine global endeavour to combat the loss of nature. Collectively, these steps represent a significant stride in reimagining our relationship with the Earth. Now, it falls upon each participating nation—and indeed, each of us—to ensure these ambitious goals come to fruition.