A day at SBSTTA20

Impressions from Alan Jarandilla – GYBN delegate from Bolivia

On Monday April 25th, the Chair of the 20th Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity opened the discussions of the Parties in Montreal, Canada to provide Recommendations to the Conference of the Parties on the Decisions it should adopt during COP13 in Cancún, México.

It was 8:30 when the Global Youth Biodiversity Network arrived to the Conference Center and started the registration process for the meeting along with delegates from different Parties and observer organizations. After registration, we attended a meeting with other CSOs and after that we went to the Conference Room of the Conference Center.

At 10:00, delegates from Parties, IGOs, NGOs, and other stakeholders entered into the Conference Room to begin the discussion of sixteen agenda items, including the scientific review of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors, marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change, protected areas and ecosystem restoration, sustainable wildlife management, synthetic biology, among others.

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias on his Statement on the occasion of SBSTTA-20 gave a brief summary of all the documents issued by the Secretariat for the preparation of the meeting and invited Parties to the Convention to consider the Recommendations contained on the different documents. Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza at the end of his Statement announced the end of his term comes in February, 2017 and that he will not seek and extension of his mandate for personal reasons. He said that he had requested the UNEP Executive Director to start the process for recruiting a successor. After that announcement the Chairman expressed his appreciation to the work done during his mandate and the negotiations started.

After the adoption of the agenda and the organization of work, Parties started to address the Scientific Review of Implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. During the discussion many countries emphasized that the year 2020 is getting closer and that there is a lot of progress to do to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, so it’s necessary to continue and enhance the efforts made to achieve Aichi Targets. Parties discussed for about two hours the topic and lunch time came.

In the afternoon, Parties continued discussions at 3:00. They addressed the issue of mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors. Many Parties shared their activities and practices regarding the topic and other provided specific changes to the Recommendations issued by the Secretariat. Civil society groups were allowed to take the floor and stressed the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity with civil society participation. The next topic to be discussed was marine and coastal biodiversity, the Chair announced the discussion of the first subtopic, ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, and Parties stressed the importance of the protection of marine areas coral reefs and marine biodiversity in general. At 6:30 pm, the Chair suspended the session.

Following negotiations and discussions of Parties is a unique experience. At the beginning you feel lost and confused. Sometimes you don’t know what’s happening, especially in the procedural agenda items. It can be tiring to follow what has been said by each delegate, to finish interventions in the meanwhile, to try to share what’s happening with pictures and social media, but it is an amazing experience I will definitely never forget. It’s my first time attending a CBD meeting and I’m excited for the opportunity.

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Microplastics will put you in the hospital

Image by gentlemanrook on Flickr, licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Image by gentlemanrook on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastics less than 5mm and could even be as small as a grain of sand. When plastic marine debris is being broken down from wind, rain and other natural elements they become microplastics. They can also be found in cosmetic products that we use. They can get into the food chain to humans through animals eating it. Fish and other seafood when caught and dissected, bits of plastics have been found in their stomachs. Now the major issue is the toxins from the additives in the plastics which can not only poison you but may cause cancer when you consume the fish.

In this light, the negotiating text addressing Marine Debris highlighted the impacts of microplastics on animals and the environment but not the effects on human health. That is why today, I got the chance to deliver an intervention for GYBN on this topic. If the link between human health and microplastics is made, then persons will more likely want to change their behaviour – since it may affect them personally.

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During the interventions, several Parties in general mentioned the dire need to prevent the marine debris from occurring at all, and also highlighted the negative effects of it on animals and ecosystems.

Steps to Delivering the Intervention

  1. I had to read the negotiating document and flag certain recommendations that I thought needed work or was not suitable.
  2. I worked with more experienced members of the delegation who read it through and edited the document. We had to make sure that it was concise and that specific words were emphasised in order to denote some emotion to the Parties, UN agencies and NGOs there.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. I had to practice and after much coaching I believed I was ready.
  4. In the plenary room we had to make sure to press the microphone button to indicate that we wanted the floor soon after the interventions started. This was to make sure we would be able to get onto the list to speak.

I got really nervous as the time soon came for me to speak. The Parties were finished and the UN organisations were on. A strange thing happened after all that rehearsal. An NGO (IIFB), mentioned the importance of the participation of young people within their intervention, so at the last minute, we added another point to support them. The next thing I knew, I heard the Chair speak and my microphone turned red and it was time to speak. After a minor fumble I finally found my voice and began reading the intervention loud and clear and with motion as practiced. It was such a blur but from the applause from my teammates I knew I did a good job.

Day 1 of SBSTTA20 Negotiations

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About to enter the ICAO Conference Centre – the venue of the SBSTTA and SBI negotiations.

As I walked into the plenary hall, I saw a vaguely familiar room which I only saw in photographs. There were hundreds of persons sitting here and there trying to find their seats from the name plates on the tables or the faces of familiar persons from the last meeting. The youth delegates finally found their seats and took them and were ready. The meeting opened around 10 a.m. and the negotiations began. As a first timer it was a lot to get used to. Even doing the enormous load of background reading, I soon found out that you can never really be fully prepared for the actual proceedings taking place. Trying to keep up with the interventions was tough enough especially with the array of different languages and accents being spoken and the cold temperature of the conference room – especially for me, coming from a tropical country.

The battlefield - the plenary hall where countries will be busy negotiating for the next two weeks.
The battlefield – the plenary hall where countries will be busy negotiating for the next two weeks.

On top of this, you really have to pay attention for the three-hour negotiating blocks.

Afterward, you also had to get used to the political language being used to negotiate the text. Once I got the essence of what was happening I realized a few things. While some Parties gave their recommendations for making changes to the text, I realized that others first shared their national or regional situations to provide the context for their recommendations. Some to advertise their work and others to induce a sense of sympathy from other parties it seemed. Others criticized the late distribution of some texts by the Secretariat as their reason for not being able to read the documents thoroughly. I thought to myself, really? It’s definitely a technical meeting.

Likewise, many Parties had a very technical way of speaking to the chair such as identifying the exact document name, paragraph numbers and even page numbers. I saw that some wanted changes to one word and others to completely delete or add paragraphs. Now I am beginning to understand why it is a difficult process and why negotiations have to occur many months before. Every Party and non-party delegate have a point of view and want to get their points into the documents.

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Members of the youth delegation conversing before the plenary begins

Interventions from civil society and especially youth are extremely important in order for a more holistic view of certain situations rather than simply from the governments of countries. We as the youth got our first chance during the SBSTTA20 to experience the thrill of writing an intervention and then the disappointment of not being able to deliver it, due to time running out. We will definitely learn from our mistakes and press the button to get in line to speak much earlier. Hopefully tomorrow we will get that chance.

Call for Applications – GYBN Delegation to SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1

Join the GYBN Delegation to SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1 in Montreal from April 23 to May 8!

Launch of Sp4sps

We have some good news to share with you all: After several months of hard work by the GYBN Steering Committee we are very happy to inform you that we have secured some funding for a small group of youth from the Global South to join a GYBN delegation to the upcoming SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1 meeting in Montreal.

Depending on the final costs for travel and accommodations, we expect that four (4) places will be available. The delegation will join the negotiations in Montreal, Canada from April 23 to May 8 2016 in order to form a group of change agents for Biodiversity conservation.

The primary goals of this project is to provide young people from a wide variety of backgrounds that are working on Biodiversity issues and that are between 18 and 30 years old with an opportunity to speak up for their generation at SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1. By enabling them to play an active role in the CBD-process, we are aiming to build capacity among young people so that they can contribute to the implementation of the Convention and the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Knowledge and experience gained through this opportunity can then be brought back to their countries, communities and organizations.

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Candidates must demonstrate outstanding commitment to Biodiversity issues in the past as well as a strong track record of voluntary activities in youth organizations and must possess at least a basic understanding of international negotiations. Experience with the CBD-process as well as relevant expertise and knowledge about the items on the agenda of SBSTTA-20 will be an asset.
Ideally, to ensure a good transfer of experience, the delegation should consist of two experienced members who have been to CBD-meetings before and two first-timers.

To join the delegation, please fill out this form until Sunday, March 20th at 23:59 Montreal-time (EDT/GMT -4).
http://bit.ly/gybn-delegation-sbstta20

Please note that due to our donors funding guidelines this opportunity is restricted to youth from the Global South.

If you are a young person from the Global North and you wish to participate in SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1, we are unfortunately not in a position to support your participation financially. However, GYBN is committed to enabling youth from both the South and the North to take part in CBD-meetings. All interested youth from the Global North are most welcome to get in touch with the GYBN focal points Melina Sakiyama (melina.sakiyama@gmail.com) and Christian Schwarzer (christian.schwarzer@gmail.com) and we can try to find other non-monetary ways to help.

Good luck for your application!

Your GYBN Steering Committee

 

SELECTED BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1

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I. What is SBSTTA?
The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice is one of the CBD’s two permanent subsidiary bodies and is meeting on an annual basis.
SBSTTA’s mandate is to provide:
•    assessments on the status of biodiversity
•    assessments on the efficiency of measures taken under the CBD
•    advice on any question that the COP may direct at it
•    identify new and emerging issues and decide whether these fall under the scope of the Convention or not.
Although SBSTTA was originally conceived as purely scientific advisory body, with the expanding workload and scope of the CBD it has evolved into a platform for political negotiations that plays a crucial role in the preparation of COP. At the end of each SBSTTA session, delegates agree on so called SBSTTA-recommendation, which are suggestions for decisions to be adopted at COP.
SBSTTA has met 19 times so far and adopted 201 recommendations for the COP. For more detailed information about SBSTTA, its mandate, proceedings and structure please check out: http://www.cbd.int/sbstta/

II. What is SBI?
The creation of the CBD’s second permanent subsidiary body has only been recently agreed by parties at COP12 in Pyeongchang in October 2014. The Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) is the successor of the Ad-Hoc Open-ended Working Group on the Review of the Implementation (WGRI), which existed from 2004 to 2014 and met five times.
SBI’s mandate is:
•    to review the implementation of the convention
•    to provide advice on how the implementation of the CBD can be enhanced
•    to develop recommendations on how obstacles to the CBD’s implementation can be overcome
•    to develop recommendation on how mechanism, that support the CBD’s implementation, can be strengthened
•    to review progress towards the implementation of the CBD’s Strategic Plan 2011-2020
•    to prepare proposals on how the achievement of the Strategic Plan’s targets can be advanced
SBI is also responsible to provide advice on the implementation of the CBD’s protocols, namely the Cartagena Protocol and the Nagoya-Protocol. For more information about SBI, please visit: https://www.cbd.int/sbi

Evalutation Meeting

III. Why is it important to participate in both SBSTTA and the COP?
If you want to influence the process, it is of crucial importance that you start your advocacy work as early as possible!!
By the time the COP convenes it is quite often already too late: At this point in time almost all decision have already been discussed in great detail, parties have exchanged opinions and text has been drafted on most issues. At this stage it is quite difficult to push for major changes in a negotiating texts and extremely hard if not impossible to introduce new issues or aspects. So the later you start your advocacy activities the smaller your chances that your voice will be heard and your perspective considered!
SBSTTA and SBI are the platforms where all major COP decisions are being prepared by parties and where actual discussion are taking place, so this is really the point where you should be present and lobby for your issues!
Furthermore, now – in the weeks before SBSTTA! – is the time when most parties are preparing their positions for SBSTTA, so if you can – get in touch with your country’s respective
CBD focal point or national delegation, set up a meeting and discuss your issues with her/him!
You can find all contacts to national focal points here: http://www.cbd.int/convention/parties/list/ (just click on the name of country)

IV. Rationale for Youth Participation at SBSTTA and SBI
Civil Society – including youth! – is being recognized as an official major group and important stakeholder of the CBD, so it is your explicit right to make your voice heard!!!
If any party to the CBD should hesitate to take youth serious, please make them aware of Decision XI/8 on “the engagement of other stakeholders and major groups” (http://www.cbd.int/doc/decisions/cop-11/cop-11-dec-08-en.pdf, page 3) which officially recognizes the importance of youth participation in decision making process on all levels.
The paragraph on “children and youth” has been introduced by GYBN youth delegates at COP11 in Hyderabad and was adopted by ALL parties without changes.

V. Logistics and Visa
SBSTTA-20 is scheduled to take place from April 20 to 29 and SBI-1 will be convened between May 2 and 6.
Both meetings will be taking place in Montreal, Canada.
If you need a visa for Canada and if you are accredited for the meeting already, please get in touch with the CBD Secretariat at secretariat@cbd.int to receive a Visa Support Letter.

If you should face any problems during the visa application process or if your visa should get denied, please contact Melina and me and we will check how we can support you!

VI. Coordination of GYBN Youth Delegates
If you are planning to take part in SBSTTA-20 and/or SBI-1 as a youth delegate please fill out this form so that we can connect you with other youth representatives and coordinate our efforts. Thank you!
http://bit.ly/gybnsbstta20

VII. Important Documents

SBSTTA-20
Provisional Agenda:
https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/sbstta/sbstta-20/official/sbstta-20-01-rev1-en.pdf

Annotated Agenda: https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/sbstta/sbstta-20/official/sbstta-20-01-add1-rev1-en.pdf

Official Documents: https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=sbstta-20

SBI-1
Agenda: https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/sbi/sbi-01/official/sbi-01-01-rev1-en.pdf

Annotated Agenda: https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/sbi/sbi-01/official/sbi-01-01-add1-en.pdf

Official Documents: https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=SBI-01

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Don’t miss this opportunity! Join the GYBN delegation to SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1 and submit your application until Sunday, March 20th at 23:59 Montreal-time (EDT/GMT -4)!

Homo sapiens, biodiversity and climate change in the Arabian Gulf

“In order to understand, I destroyed myself.”  ― Fernando Pessoa

For the past 4.5 billion years, the world we today call “Planet Earth” has been undergoing constant change since its formation especially in terms of climatic changes driving evolutionary change whereby species and ecosystems work on adapting to survive or face extinction.  This constant fluctuation between the climate being extremely cold and covered in ice to very hot and vice-verse has in the past 10,000 years come to equilibrium, thus, making the planet’s climate more stable.

This has led to the flourishing of diverse flora and fauna creating what we know as today’s biodiversity and subsequently to the explosion of the Homo sapiens species population. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines biodiversity as the variety of life on earth and the natural patterns it forms, this refers to ecosystem, species and genetic variation.

In the past approximately 650,000 years, temperatures and greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4 levels are known to have changed following cyclical patterns over a large span of time. However, over the past century following the industrial revolution, human activities have started affecting the natural climate balance negatively whereby COlevels have now reached 400 ppm in comparison to the 80 ppm rise in COconcentration at the end of the past ice age which took over 5000 years to occur.

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Climate change impacts are already being felt around the world with projections of dramatic shifts in the states of many ecosystems; climate change has also been linked to well documented changes in physiology, phenology, species distributions and others (Watson, 2012). Moreover, it is also seen to be one of the main contributors to the global loss of biodiversity and has already caused accelerated rates of species’ extinctions along with changes to ecosystems worldwide (Sala et al., 2000; Thomas et al., 2004; Pimm, 2008; Watson, 2012).

Known to host the world’s hottest sea, the Arabian Gulf in recent years has become an attraction hub for scientists, economists, energy experts and researchers from various fields due to the region’s interesting and challenging nature (Riegl & Purkis, 2012). Despite the harsh environmental conditions, the region harbours a rich biodiversity bringing together ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and sabkhas whilst being home to numerous endemic species. Moreover, the Arabian Gulf also fosters many migratory species of turtles, whales and other species and is considered to be of international importance in terms of biodiversity as it hosts the second largest population of dugongs following Australia and the largest breeding colony of the Socotra Cormorant in the world in addition to many other reasons…..Continued here

Highlights of COP12

Last week marked the end of the CBD COP12 talks, which witnessed a number of memorable moments some of which are highlighted here. The 12th of October 2014 marked the entry of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) into force with 54 ratifying countries – hence marking the First Meeting of Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP1). Furthermore, the negotiations witnessed the official launch of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) report. The GBO4 serves as the publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is a periodic report that summarizes the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity along with drawing conclusions relevant to the further implementation of the Convention. The report highlighted that the current work and efforts undertaken by world governments towards achieving the Aichi Targets was insufficient. In addition, it stated that the goal to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020 would not be achieved at this rate.

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The CBD COP12 negotiations further saw the adoption of 33 decisions on various issues such as financial mechanisms, resource mobilization, marine and coastal biodiversity, ecosystem conservation and restoration, synthetic biology, biodiversity and sustainable development, improving the efficiency of the Convention’s processes, cooperation with other organizations; biodiversity and climate change, biofuels, Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge), sustainable wildlife management and invasive alien species (IAS).

The meeting also conducted a mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011- 2020 and its Aichi targets whilst it also reviewed progress in providing support towards implementation, through capacity building, technical and scientific cooperation, and other initiatives.

Furthermore, a High-Level Segment (HLS) was held from 15-17 October 2014, under the theme “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” which saw the adoption of the Gangwon Declaration. In this declaration, ministers and heads of delegation recalled the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in addition to the Rio+20 outcome document whilst noting that progress towards the Aichi targets is insufficient, and reaffirming their commitment to mobilize financial resources from all sources for the effective implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

An agreement on the Pyeongchang Roadmap was come to in the aim of enhancing the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the achievement of the Aichi biodiversity targets. The agreement contained five decisions on the mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the 2011- 2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, and the Aichi targets, biodiversity and sustainable development, review of progress in providing support in implementing the objectives of the Convention, cooperation with other conventions and a strategy for resource mobilization.

“All forms of life are interconnected and interdependent, helping all in mutual survival.”

Simultaneously, the 2014 Pyeongchang Buddhist Declaration for Life-Peace was released to coincide with the CBD COP12 talks in the weekend between the two weeks of negotiations, many delegates and participants took time to join the monks at the Woljeongsa Monastery to reflect, recharge and celebrate the announcement of the declaration which underlines every life is a universe in itself. Moreover, it stresses that all beings whether small or big have the right to live on this planet as all lives are equal, hence, humans should always be prudent and humble in the face of nature and life.

Evalutation Meeting

With the end of the negotiations, our GYBN delegation team came together to evaluate all that has happened during the negotiations period along with strategizing for what comes next following the launch of their “Global Voices” which was announced by GYBN at the opening plenary in its first statement. GYBN is currently working on summarizing the outcome documents of the CBD COP12 decisions and translating them into youth friendly language – so stay tuned!

2014 Pyeongchang Buddhist Declaration for Life-Peace

GYBN is proud to have been present on the day (the 11th of October 2014), the 2014 Pyeongchang Buddhist Declaration for Life-Peace was released to coincide with the CBD COP12 talks.

GYBN Thoughts: “Clear the mind, activate the heart and feed the soul”.

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2014 Pyeongchang Buddhist Declaration for Life-Peace

 -– All Beings are Buddha in Their True Nature –

 By viewing nature as a resource to be controlled and exploited, humans have largely destroyed the habitats of animals and plants, thereby driving them to the brink of extinction. This crisis comes back to us as in karmic form, posing in turn a threat to our very survival. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has played a significant role in preserving biodiversity. However, it should be noted that the Convention is ethically limited as it also assumes living organisms to be an exploitable resource for economic benefit

In Pyeongchang, the venue of the COP 12, Korean Buddhists are to repent for the life-destroying activities undertaken so far and instead strive to create the momentum to restore our oneness with all living organisms. By doing so, we should end the prevailing culture based upon violent domination over nature and build a civilization of the living, where nature and humans co-exist in peace.

Saving life in crisis is an urgent, universal task. The moment to commence the walk to this goal is now. We cannot afford the luxury of further delay. Through the daily activities of individuals as well as cooperation at the local, national and global levels, we should strive together to build a sustainable all-encompassing society of life.

Woljeongsa monastery in Pyeongchang, where COP 12 is taking place, is an ancient monastery extending back one millennium and containing the 40th Power of Vow, through which the Bodhisattva of Compassion aspired to purify the world by cooling all earthly fever. To seek the wisdom to live in harmony with all forms of life as well as cool the fever of Earth, Korean Buddhists promulgate the following 2014 Pyeongchang Buddhist Declaration for Life-Peace.

Every Life is A Universe.

The universe is the Indra’s net, where each bead sheds light all over the world. All in one and one in all exist as a great life that cannot be parsed. A life as small as dust remains a creature that the entire Universe works in unison to make, and nowhere is there a small being that does not shine across the Universe. All forms of life are interconnected and interdependent, helping all in mutual survival. All manifestations of life are inherently and innately noble and precious, regardless of their necessity or usefulness for humans. Therefore, we cannot put a price-tag on them nor should we abuse them as a means for production or profit. Without justification, they should be neither harmed nor killed. Humans should always be prudent and humble in the face of nature and life.

All Lives are Equal.

Life embraces not only sentient beings but also non-sentient beings such as sunlight, air, wind , earth and water. Based upon causal relations, they have temporal continuity from the past to the present and to the future. Therefore, they are equal, without either superiority or inferiority, and not being distinguished by good or evil. We must consider fairness for life not only in the present but also in the future. We should realize that equality is complete only through the ethics of mutual care and respect.

We Should Create A Culture that Sanctifies the Preservation of Life.

Buddhism, as a religion of the forest, has long been in communion with the natural world. In Korean culture, forests or mountains without temples are hard to imagine. From its origins, Korean Buddhism viewed land itself as life and built temples to revive the spirit of the earth, thereby laying the foundation for the forests of national parks. As such, tradition and culture in harmony with nature is the source for biological diversity and ecological abundance. A culture that saves lives should be based on the power of local people. Therefore, we should not forget that the cultural efforts of indigenous and local people to preserve biodiversity pave the way to biodiversity conservation.

Humans are Responsible for the Peace of All Life.

The crisis facing the existence life today is rooted in human civilization that has wrongfully divided and demarcated the world that inherently cannot be separated or disconnected from its nature. We, as members of humanity, have wrongfully perceived finite resources as infinite, ruling them as if we were lords of Earth. We should first repent for our having exploited all beings in existence to satisfy our desires. We should realize that we are able to live only by the grace of all living things and thus lead a “life of requital” to express appreciation for and return of their grace. All forms of life have the right to happiness and peace, and we as humans have a responsibility to uphold that right. We should restore the bonds that we have severed. We are responsible for establishing a sustainable eco-circular society by protecting the equality of and right to life.

The Reading of the Declaration
The Reading of the Declaration

 

Group photo of all the CBD COP12 Participants who were present at the declaration announcement. [Photo credit: Woljeongsa Temple Facebook Page]
Group photo of all the CBD COP12 Participants who were present at the declaration announcement. [Photo credit: Woljeongsa Temple Facebook Page]

GYBN’s Second Week at COP12

The current CBD negotiations in Pyeongchang are getting ready for a decrescendo as COP12 is nearing the end. On Monday (the 13th), the week began with a reminder from the COP President that the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the CBD came into force the day before – 12th of October 2014 – hence, declaring the start of the First Meeting of Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP1). Following the official plenary, the negotiations divided into two working groups to discuss topics on financial mechanism, resource mobilization, global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanisms and cooperation with other conventions under the Nagoya Protocol along with compliance. The Nagoya Protocol offers a legal framework to ensure that the access and utilisation of genetic resources is fair and equitable under the basis of the ABS agreements. Moreover, prior consent is required from countries and communities that are providing such resources under the CBD – more than 50 parties are said to have ratified the Nagoya Protocol already.

High Level Panelists at the opening of the UNDB Day Celebration Ceremony
High Level Panelists at the opening of the UNDB Day Celebration Ceremony

Tuesday, the 14th of October 2014, marked the UN Decade on Biodiversity Day (UNDB Day), which was celebrated by the Japan Committee for the UNDB, the CBD Secretariat and other Partners. It aimed at focusing and showcasing the utilisation and promotion of the UNDB at both the global and national levels. In addition to contributing to the scale up of the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets whilst further elaborating on the Pyeongchang Roadmap 2020. GYBN was invited to contribute and participate to the panel, which consisted of high level delegates such as the CBD Executive Secretary Dr. Braulio, the Deputy Minister for Environment and Energy of the Maldives, the IUCN Secretariat along with a CITES representative and others.

GYBN’s Melina Sakiyama addressing delegates and COP12 participants at the COP12 UNDB Day
GYBN’s Melina Sakiyama addressing delegates and COP12 participants at the COP12 UNDB Day

Yesterday (Wednesday), the 15th of October 2014, marked the official opening of the High Level Segment that brought together Ministers and high profiled politicians to the talks. GYBN proudly presented its intervention and presentation at the High Level Segment on the importance of youth participation whilst introducing its “Youth Voices” project urging governments to partner with youth and not use lack of funding and resources as an excuse to not engage. We must say, we are so proud of our North & South Focal Points (Christian Schwarzer & Melina Sakiyama) who have both done a wonderful job representing global youth!!! Moreover, GYBN presented a 10-minute presentation explaining how the “Youth Voices” project intends on translating GBO4’s findings into understandable language for youth and other members of the public to connect and easily understand the messages. Furthermore, they spoke about how youth are contributing globally to achieving the Aichi Targets – GYBN proudly stated that for the first time, in the short time since their establishment, they have succeeded in bringing together a delegation team that has a representative from every inhibited to COP12.

GYBN’s Focal Points: Christian Schwarzer (Global North Focal Point) & Melina Sakiyama (Global South Focal Point)
GYBN’s Focal Points: Christian Schwarzer (Global North Focal Point) & Melina Sakiyama (Global South Focal Point)

Moreover, our team along with NAYU also met with the German Vice-Environmental Minister Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter along with Carsten Träger and Klaus-Peter Schulze (both members of the German Parliament) as well as Elsa Nickel and Nicola Breier from the German Ministry for the Environment whereby GYBN thanked the German government for their continuous support of GYBN and resource mobilization to enable youth participation at the COP. This was followed by discussions on youth participation and Germany’s role in lending support to enable youth to raise their voice took place. Minister Rita stated that she is proud and impressed by GYBN’s work and encouraged the team to continue working towards achieving biodiversity conservation even though at times it might seem like a lengthy process with not much change. GYBN asked members of the German delegation to choose the species they are going to be represent at this COP as they made their way to the opening of the High Level Segment.

Front row from Left to Right: Frau Dr. Elisa Nickel, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Carsten Träger and Dr. Klaus-Peter Schulze
Front row from Left to Right: Frau Dr. Elisa Nickel, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Carsten Träger and Dr. Klaus-Peter Schulze

Lastly, NAYU in collaboration with the Japanese Youth Biodiversity Network (JYBN) and the guidance of GYBN delivered a great side event on youth’s contribution to ocean conservation bringing examples from three different networks based in three countries namely: Germany, Greece and Japan. Currently GYBN is getting ready in collaboration with the CBD alliance to conduct the Dodo award and also we are following the negotiations so that we can summarise and bring you the outcome decisions of this COP! Stay tuned as there is so much more to come!

GYBN at their daily co-ordination meeting past 9pm at the Alpensia Convention Center
GYBN at their daily co-ordination meeting past 9pm at the Alpensia Convention Center

Nagoya Protocol Comes in Force, India Falling Apart in Implementation

Dispatches from Pyeongchang, S. Korea

Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing came in force last Sunday. It is definitely a good news, as after years of deadlock on the issues of environment and sustainability, we have a new substantial global norm to facilitate environmental governance. At a very basic level the objective of the protocol is to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Now a framework is in place which ensures that genetic resources of countries and communities are not used without consent. When the foundations of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) were laid, developed countries desired conservation agenda at the top, while developing countries wanted sustainable use of biodiversity for their material progress to be priority. In the juggernaut of various interests Convention on Biological Diversity succeeded in balancing at-least the demand of developing countries.

To ratify the protocol, parties need to have a domestic regulatory framework which can be either in the form of legislation. The legislation further creates a regulatory body or the task of access and benefit sharing is allocated to the relevant existing department. Bringing out legislation is not mandatory. There needs to be a relevant body with a job profile of implementation of norms related to access and benefit sharing.

The protocol also acknowledges the role played by indigenous and local communities in sustainable harvest of genetic resources and their knowledge (traditional knowledge) of its handling. The protocol enforces the sharing of monetary and non-monetary benefits with them after the sustainable usage of genetic resources.

India definitely needs a round of applause for hosting COP-11, in Hyderabad, which brought out the road map for ratification of Nagoya Protocol by more than 50 parties (participant countries) of CBD. Let me make one thing very clear, it’s the efforts of previous government which bore fruits in the regime of new government. We don’t need to congratulate either Mr. Narendra Modi or Prakash Javadekar.

India’s role in ratification of protocol need to be appreciated, but the fact is that India also has shown tremendous hypocrisy to execute the same at home in India. National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was created in 2003 much before the formulation of protocol with the similar objectives. Sadly, the NBA has done more harm to environment and losses to the biological resources of the country go un-estimated. There are not many case studies of sharing of benefits arising after from utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge with indigenous and local communities in India. NBA prefers to keep the money and other benefits in its own pockets.Continued here…

Youth platform for participation at the Convention on Biological Diversity