Developing countries threaten to suspend Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The moratorium on additional financial assistance for low income countries, unofficially imposed by the economic woes of richer nations, will be put to its latest test as negotiations at COP11 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity reach their endgame in Hyderabad.

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin report of Wednesday’s proceedings, the G77/China/Mexico group of developing countries warned that “failure to reach agreement on a (financial resources) target will result in suspension of implementation of the Aichi targets until sufficient resources are available.”

The Aichi Targets are a set of 20 objectives to fulfil the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 that was agreed at the previous COP held in 2010. A High-Level Panel report released on Tuesday warns delegates that the costs of delivering the Targets are estimated at $150-$440 billion per annum.

A threat to suspend cooperation is not an uncommon tactic by developing countries at this stage of UN talks on global environmental and poverty issues. Delegates will now look to India as host country to broker a way through the impasse. This responsibility falls largely on Environment Minister, Jayanthi Natarajan.

Reports in Indian media quote Ms Natarajan as mentioning the possibility of “political pledges on financial commitments.” Although unlikely to satisfy disgruntled developing countries, a non-binding political agreement by a group of donor countries might prove to be Friday’s outcome, at least in respect of the financial component.

Wednesday’s negotiations floated the possibility of doubling existing foreign aid for biodiversity, currently believed to be about $5 billion per annum. But the donors are unsure about this baseline figure and want to impose new reporting requirements which recipient countries are unlikely to accept.

As the senior UN official in Hyderabad, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, was forced on the defensive in yesterday’s press conference.

Challenged on the possibility that the talks might collapse, he said: “I think we should not anticipate a negative outcome because every signal that I am picking up is that there is deep commitment – from the Indian presidency to the different regional groupings – to make Hyderabad a catalyst for moving forward with the (2010) Nagoya outcome.”


background briefing on Biodiversity Finance