Final documents on almost all agenda issues are ready for adoption at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity here later today, while discussions are starting soon on the key issues of mobilising resources and creating a financial mechanism.
Providing an overview of the progress so far, a CBD spokesman told the media that two items await finalisation, while key progress has been made on a range of issues. The pending issues will be taken up in working groups and discussed at the Plenary to convene at 3 p.m. today. Mobilisation of resources to help biodiversity rich countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been the most contentious issue at the conference, with pressure on wealthy nations building up from the group of 77. The wealthier countries are baulking at commitments, demanding stronger regulatory frameworks for monitoring and evaluation to be created first.
"Given the overall pace of the discussions, countries are indeed making progress on all of the decisions," the spokesman said, citing strong commitments made for capacity building to implement protected areas and the call for greater engagement with business through the CBD Secretariat, an issue that had become well-defined after the Nagoya conference two years ago. That meet yielded the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing which aims to help poorer countries whose biodiversity is exploited.
Given the state of the economic downturn, it was heartening that the governments were moving forward. India had announced national and international commitments (50 million dollars) in Hyderabad to advance biodiversity conservation objectives. Germany was continuing its commitment with an announcement that over 2013-14, it would provide 500 million euros for forest protection worldwide. "Governments are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work," the spokesman said.
The question of how far governments want to go on resource mobilisation for CBD goals will be known later today, he added. To a question on the role of the United States in the CBD, the spokesman said America was not a party to the CBD, but was a signatory. It participated in meetings and provided inputs for the discussions.
When countries sign the CBD, they are supposed to make its terms and conditions, which are strong, part of national law. In the case of the US, it adopted policies that were in consonance with those of the Parties to the CBD. It is not legally mandatory for the US to carry this out, but there is pressure to conform to what comes out of these meetings, the spokesman added.
In response to reports in the media on low participation by Ministers, he said the level of participation in Hyderabad was consonant with expectations, and in no conference was every Environment Minister present. That includes the high profile UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the present CoP 11, the participation involves 77 Ministers, and the range at CBD conferences was a high of 110, and a low figure of 65. The absence of Ministers in the main discussion halls should not be construed as lack of participation and commitment. They were busy with intensive negotiations, bilateral talks and parallel meetings on decisions relating to key goals, which was important work.
Among the issues to be decided today, besides resources and financial mechanism, are the REDD+ scheme (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which countries with large forest lands are watching keenly. A range of issues have been covered during the conference that concludes today - notably, on inland water ecosystems, islands, coastal biodiversity, sustainable fisheries, coral bleaching, underwater noise, ocean acidification and marine debris. Mainstreaming gender into all CoP decisions, rights of indigenous and local communities, biodiversity for poverty eradication and integrating Rio+20 sustainable development goals were also addressed. Many of these fall within the Aichi Targets for Biodiversity conservation, which were adopted at the last meeting of the CBD at Nagoya.
In all, 184 countries and 14,400 participants including staff attended the Hyderabad CoP, the spokesman said.