CBD COP11 News round-up – early October 19th

Negotiations in Hyderabad have rumbled on into the night, the predictable UN conference choreography for “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

Light work was made of resolving the REDD+ issue, with parties promising to pay more attention to biodiversity in implementing their programmes to reduce deforestation. Conditions attaching to these programmes are drawn up by the quite separate UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a recipe for playing off one Convention against the other.

Delegates also agreed a set of guidelines for geo-engineering projects, amongst which is a rare sighting of the precautionary principle. This is consistent with the “Rio Principles” laid down at the 1992 Earth Summit but not at all consistent with the subsequent non-observance of precaution on environmental limits.

Which leaves resource mobilisation, better known as financial assistance. Two of the major donors have dropped hints that they have not come to Hyderabad with empty pockets. In response to a local media headline: “Rich nations refuse to commit money to conserve biodiversity,” the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, tweeted: “no they don’t.”

Meanwhile, AFP reports that

British Environment Minister Richard Benyon (said) that London was happy to contribute but wanted to be sure “that we are not leaving ourselves open to putting greater burden on our taxpayers.”

Local media reports suggest that the poorest countries are pressing for biodiversity aid to be doubled to something in excess of $10 billion per annum to enable them to start work on the Aichi Targets.

International media reporters have stayed away, leaving the press conferences sadly under-populated. One exception is the team from Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) who almost single-handedly held the fort yesterday with stories and video interviews. They deserve a medal for jumping the climate change silo of the organisation and turning up at a biodiversity conference.

This RTCC interview with Gerard Bos, Head of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, sheds some light on the stumbling progress of negotiations on finance.

Bos also discusses the curious dichotomy between endless news stories about the potential of private sector finance and the absence of the topic within the formal proceedings. That has to change soon if the logarithmic divide between monies needed to meet the Targets and monies available is to be addressed.

Or will there come a point at which we become convinced that the accumulation of initiatives by business, donors and government agencies achieves such momentum that public funds are irrelevant? The same conundrum hangs over the UN climate change process.

Gerard Bos from Responding to Climate Change on Vimeo.

There’s another good RTCC interview on resource mobilisation with Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Conservation for WWF.

Catching sight of a nocturnal tweet from a member of the European delegation, I hoped for news of a political breakthrough. But I had to settle for this:

Something to do with wolves at the door? a veiled reference to yesterday’s euro crisis meeting in Brussels? Which species is closer to extinction – the euro or the wolves?

We’ll all be wiser this time tomorrow.


 background briefings on Biodiversity