6 - 17 October 2014 in Pyeongchang (the Republic of Korea)
The 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place from 6 to 17 October 2014 in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. The main focus of the conference was the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The Conference was opened with the official launch of the fourth edition of the report on the state of biodiversity, the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4). This report is a mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and presents a mixed review of the situation (see below). An important outcome of COP 12 was the official recognition of the main results and conclusions reached in GBO-4. There was general consensus among the Parties that in the coming years focus should be on the consistent implementation of the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodversity 2011- 2020. Other key outcomes of COP 12 were the inclusion of approximately 150 ecologically and biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) into the CBD data base and the agreement on a final international financing goal for the implementation of the Strategic Plan. The signing of the Gangwon Declaration on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development during the high level segment of the Conference demonstrated to the UN General Assembly the importance of biodiversity for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Overview of most important topics at the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties
The Global Diversity Outlook (GBO-4) records mixed results on the progress of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The international community has made progress on the majority of the goals, however it is not enough to reach the 2020 targets. The goal of minimising the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification by 2015 is certain to be missed.
In the decision on the mid-term review and enhanced implementation of the Strategic Plan the international community acknowledged the main outcome and conclusions of GBO-4 and thus the urgent need to enhance implementation of the Strategic Plan. In addition, the decision refers to suggestions made in GBO-4 in relation to key measures for fulfilling the Strategic Plan and also contains an overview of the main scientific and technical requirements for implementation. Furthermore, an expert group was appointed for the review and expansion of global indicators for the Strategic Plan.
At COP 11 in 2012, provisional financial targets for implementing the Strategic Plan were adopted: international funding for biodiversity in developing countries is to be doubled by 2015 compared to the average for the years 2006-2010 and this level is to be maintained until 2020. The goal was adopted at COP 12. Germany will achieve this goal thanks to the implementation of Chancellor Merkel's pledge of 500 million euros up to 2012 and from 2013 onwards 500 million euros annually for the conservation of forests and other ecosystems. COP 12 also confirmed that the Parties are prioritising biodiversity in their national development plans and will report on the relevant national tasks and needs. At the same time the Parties, for the first time, agreed on a separate qualitative goal for inland resource mobilisation so as to significantly narrow the gap between the identified requirements and available resources. A review of the progress made towards fulfilling these commitments and the suitability of the targets will be carried out at COP 13. Furthermore, the decision envisages that all states and institutions make additional voluntary contributions towards capacity building measures. For COP 12, this represents an important step towards achieving sustainable financing of the Strategic Plan.
The decision on biodiversity and sustainable development underlines the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for sustainable development. The Parties are encouraged to promote the integration of the Convention's objectives and the Strategic Plan's Aichi targets into the Sustainable Development Goals of the post-2015 agenda. The explicit inclusion of biodiversity and ecosystems in the proposal put forward by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is expressly welcomed. This same message was conveyed to the UN General Assembly with the adoption of the Gangwon Declaration on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development by Ministers and the heads of delegations during the high level segment of the Conference. The Executive Secretary is requested to continue actively contributing to discussions on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and to inform the Parties of important developments including possible positive and negative impacts of the development goals on biodiversity and ecosystems. Furthermore, the COP decision welcomes the Chennai Guidance for Implementation of the Integration of Biodiversity and Poverty Eradication.
Ecologically and biologically significant marine areas
Further advances have been made in the process initiated at COP 9 and COP 10 aimed at the scientific identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs). In total, seven regional workshops were held at expert level which identified valuable marine areas in coastal waters and on the high seas. Over 150 of these ecologically and biologically significant marine areas were recognised by the Parties and included in the CBD Depositary. The EBSA data base will be made available, in particular, to the UN General Assembly, UN organisations and regional organisations.
Underwater noise and ocean acidification
COP 12 called on the Parties and other relevant stakeholders to take measures to avoid, minimise and mitigate the potential significant adverse impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise on marine and coastal biodiversity. This includes, for instance, the development and transfer of quieter technologies, the use of spatio-temporal management of activities for minimising underwater noise and risk assessments and the acoustic mapping and habitat mapping of sound-sensitive species.
In relation to the impacts of ocean acidification COP 12 adopted the priority actions to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target for coral reefs and closely related ecosystems and encourages the improved implementation of this target. The provision also facilitates the development of a coral reef portal linked to the CBD website to facilitate technical collaboration and voluntary information sharing on all aspects of sustainable management of coral reefs and related ecosystems.
COP 12 adopted a voluntary guidance for the prevention of the introduction of alien species as pets, aquarium and terrarium species, and as live bait and live food. This guidance is intended to assist countries in devising and implementing measures to address the risks associated with the introduction of alien species. Building on previous work, COP 12 adopted a number of measures to be implemented in the future in relation to alien species. The CBD Secretariat, was asked to promote the development and implementation of regional projects on the management of pathways of introduction categorised as high priority and of invasive and potentially invasive species. In addition, the CBD Secretariat should develop, in collaboration with the relevant organisations, decision support tools for assessing and evaluating the social, economic and ecological consequences of invasive alien species; cost-benefit analyses for eradication, management and control measures, and for examining the impacts of climate change and land-use change on biological invasions. The relevant IPBES expert assessment should be taken into account here.
In relation to the new topic of synthetic biology, the Parties agreed on a compromise decision, urging the Parties to establish or have in place and use effective risk assessment and management procedures that regulate the environmental release of any organisms (components or products) resulting from synthetic biology techniques. An online forum and an international expert group will also be set up. The group will have a very broad mandate and will address synthetic biology, existing regulations in this area and possible consequences in particular for biodiversity. The work carried out will form the basis of the CBD follow-up process. Interested communities groups and stakeholders are expressly invited to participate in the follow-up process so as to obtain a representative and comprehensive picture of interests and stakeholders affected.
A new committee, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, was established to review implementation of the CBD and its two protocols. The Subsidiary Body on Implementation replaces the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention.