Spanish COP-12 Youth Blog by Mirna Ines Fernandez

If you speak Spanish or know a young person who does and are interested in the CBD COP-12 negotiations, check out this blog by GYBN steering committee member Mirna Ines Fernandez!  http://www.ecotopiafractal.blogspot.ca/

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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…

Summary of GYBN’s First Week

The first week of the CBD COP12 talks has come to an end, its been hectic for our GYBN Team members who have been busy following the negotiations on various issues being discussed at this meeting.

Our GYBN delegation has within the short five days of the talks succeeded in delivering their opening statement at the opening plenary followed by interventions on each of the following items, namely: marine & coastal biodiversity, ecosystem conservation & restoration and stakeholder engagement (with particular focus on youth inclusion) in addition to submitting a written intervention on synthetic biology. Moreover, GYBN has sent an open letter to Mr. Martin Schulz the President of the European Parliament in regards to the next European Commission. The letter urges the EU to adopt certain recommended improvements to its next European commission’s structure and mandate.

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GYBN’s team members delivering their interventions at the negotiations

Moreover, GYBN has successfully launched its “Speaking for a Species” Campaign, which has witnessed a warm welcome by many. We were very pleased that the beautiful badges that has a photo of either a threatened or an endangered species, when presented to the delegates drew a smile on their faces. Of course, the first badge was presented to Dr. Braulio Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD).

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GYBN members presenting the badges to the delegates

Moreover, our team members are currently working along side the CBD Alliance on preparing for the Dodo and Busy bee awards – which are two awards started by the two networks as a way used to recognise good work and shame poor work by governments participating in the negotiations. The Dodo award is usually awarded to countries obstructing biodiversity conservation whilst the Busy Bee is given to countries that take positive action. Moreover, our team has been busy updating GYBN’s social media accounts on both twitter and facebook in addition to keeping the blog posts coming! They have also been working with the CBD Alliance contributing towards putting together the ECO newsletter through translation and writing articles. Moreover, on Friday the 10th of October 2014, GYBN has launched its “GBO4 -Youth Voices” Project whereby it organised a successful side event bringing together youth voices from around the world that showcased examples of how youth globally are working on implementing and achieving the Aichi Targets.

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On the same day, Dr. Braulio Dias took time to meet with all youth delegates to discuss the role of youth in the negotiations along with answering many of our questions. Dressed in a traditional Korean costume, provided by our partners from KCBD, Dr. Dias said that “We need to change the attitude of people and it is good to start working with you.”

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As the first week of the negotiations came to an end our team headed towards Woljeongsa Temple, which is located within Mt. Odaesan National Park. The group was treated to the generous and overwhelming hospitality of the Koreans especially of the KCBD members who organised an unforgettable and priceless experience through the temple stay. The team witnessed the Odaesan Culture Festival, which kicked off on Saturday the 11th of October 2014 – also known as the culture & biodiversity day, the day also marked the 2014 Pyeongchang Buddhist Declaration for Life-Peace which was released to coincide with the CBD COP12 talks. The team spent the rest of the day in reflection and meditation as they immersed themselves in nature and all the benefits that come with it. Hiking through the mountains of the national park, experiencing a tea ceremony, listening to traditional Korean music which all contributed towards relaxing the mind and feeding the soul. The team made their way back to the convention this morning recharged and ready for what will be a hectic yet exciting second week!

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Youth delegation welcomes for insertion of “Youth” in CBD COP 12 text

Dispatches from Pyeong Chang, S. Korea

The following intervention was made on agenda item number 29 “Stakeholder Engagement” and “Engagement with Sub-national and Local Governments” of draft decision text in Working group II dealing with Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration.

Madam Chair, thank you for giving us this opportunity. I’m speaking on behalf of Global Youth Biodiversity Network. We would like to thank Secretariat for including ‘Youth’ as stakeholders in item number 29 section on “sYouth delegation making an intervention @CBDCOP12takeholder engagement” in Paragraph 3 & 4 of the draft decision text:

“Encourages Parties to promote practices and mechanisms to enhance the participation of stakeholders, including youth, in consultations and decision-making processes related to the Convention and its Protocols at the regional and national levels;

Calls upon Parties to effectively engage stakeholders, including youth, in the development and implementation of the new generation of revised national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and to support initiatives that seek to promote such participation;” Continued here…

“Speaking for a Species” Campaign

Today, the 9th of October 2014, GYBN launched its “Speaking for a Species” Campaign by giving the first badge to Dr. Braulio Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Speaking for a Sp with Secretariat Lemuel (Mexico) presenting the species badges to Dr. Braulio Dias, the Executive Secretary of the CBD The campaign aims to get party negotiators to represent a species for the entire duration of COP12. This is to serve as a reminder for the reason of their presence – which is not just to represent their countries, but also to represent these species. Moreover, that their decisions during the COPs is what will determine the future of species who are a crucial part of the planet’s biodiversity. GYBN is collaborating with the ECO newsletter who has given us the space to daily publish a fact accompanied by an image of a species for seven days. This is to aid in raising awareness of our campaign whilst affirming our presence and participation. In addition it will help us get our message across to all the readers and those who are in a position to influence the negotiations. In the next couple of days, our team will be cruising the halls and convention grounds, connecting negotiators to species whilst shedding light onto what their decisions will be impacting – so check us out! Launch of Sp4sps

Open Letter from GYBN to President Martin Schulz on the Next European Commission

GYBN has sent an open letter to President Martin Schulz regarding the next European Commission.

“Therefore we would like to urge you to insist further that the following improvements are being made to the structure and mandates of the next European Commission:

  • Establish a Vice-President for Sustainability, coordinating the environment, fisheries, agriculture, and regional policy portfolios,
  • Upgrade the Vice-President for Energy Union to a Vice-President for “Climate Action and Energy Union” and have this reflected in her mandate,
  • Ensure the Environment portfolio is reinstated, restoring its competences and providing the Commissioner with a new mandate to respect the European Parliament’s work and implement the 7th EAP, and
  • Resolve potential conflicts of interest for the nominees, and notably for the Climate and Energy portfolio

The full text can be reviewed below:

2014-10-08 Open Letter from GYBN to President Martin Schulz on the next European Commission

Intervention on “Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration” by Youth in CBD COP 12

Dispatches from Pyeong Chang, S. Korea

Mirna Inés Fernández Pradel (Bolivia), Michelle Pazmiño (Ecuador), Kabir Arora (India)

The following intervention was made on agenda item number 26 ofdraft decision text in Working group II dealing with Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration.

Madam Chair, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share our inputs in regard to this item. We are speaking on behalf of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

With the current rate of biodiversity loss, we as youth are extremely concerned about the national commitments regarding conservation and restoration. We understand that it will not be possible to conserve earth’s biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone. Therefore, damaged ecosystems need restoration activities to be recovered. We believe that the main efforts should focus on in situ conservation of natural areas, following  the Ecosystem based approach.

Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 shows that there is a tangible bias on the geographical patterns of restoration projects, with the highest investment levels in North America and Europe, and we are aware that high costs and technology requirements will limit its application in many developing countries. In addition, the complexity of tropical and subtropical ecosystems require strong scientific basis to implement restoration projects when damaged.

Therefore, we remind parties that the Preventive, Precautionary and the Polluter Pays Rio Principles, are crucial to ensure that restoration is additional to ongoing conservation efforts, otherwise it cannot count towards the Aichi target 15. We call parties to ensure that conservation of fragile ecosystems is the highest priority, while restoration strategies should be applied only on ecosystems that have already been damaged. Continued here…

Youth Intervention on “Synthetic Biology” in COP 12 CBD

Dispatches from Pyeongchang, S. Korea

Michelle Pazmiño & Kabir Arora

The following intervention was made on agenda item number 24 of draft decision text in Working group II dealing with “Synthetic Biology“.

Madam Chair, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to share our position in regard to this item. We are speaking on behalf of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

We are representing future generations, and as so, we strongly urge parties to consider the precautionary principle when discussing this matter as we strongly feel that the risks and negative impacts imposed by synthetic biology are still unforeseeable and are not being taken fully into consideration. Scientific knowledge on the future implications of this issue is not yet mature, therefore synthetic biology is a new and emerging issue that has to be taken into account as highly relevant and influential to socio-economic and health issues.

Apart from robust unbiased scientific knowledge, it is essential to carefully analyze the economic and cultural impacts of this emerging issue before making any decision.  Continued here…

CBD COP12 Kicks Off

The sounds of the beating drums echoed loud in the heart of the Pyeongchang mountains in Korea on the 6th of October 2014, which marked the official opening of the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP12) under the theme of “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”.

Despite the loud beats of the drums from within the conference hall, the voice of the people of Pyeongchang rang loud as they stood outside the conference venue in protest of the Korean government’s decision. This decision is currently in process and will result in the wiping out a 500 year old forest that has been part of this region for centuries for a 3 day event, this comes as part of the development plans aligned with the preparations to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Ironically this comes at a time when biodiversity’s future is being held in a host country that is about to destroy a forest habitat to rare and endangered species.

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Inside the venue, the conference commenced with India handing over the COP Presidency to Korea as delegates from 196 countries gathered to discuss the future of biodiversity along with inter-governmental organisations, members from civil society in addition to many other representative groups such as youth, indigenous people and women.

The opening also witnessed the official launch of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) report. The GBO4 is 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.

COP12 is expected to adopt a “Pyeongchang Roadmap” to enhance the implementation for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the achievement of the Aichi biodiversity targets. Following the opening ceremony, countries began their two-week journey by giving in their country’s opening statement. GYBN also delivered its first intervention where it urged parties to overcome differences and national interests and to work together to achieve the Aichi Targets to halt the loss of biodiversity.

COP12 will be discussing the mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, development of further tools and guidance where necessary in addition to the review of updated National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), biodiversity and sustainable development, resource mobilisation among other issues. The negotiations are now ready to begin with all geared up with what is expected to be a very hectic two weeks.

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GYBN’s members Reem Al Mealla (Bahrain) and MinJae (Korea) delivering the first intervention on behalf of youth at the opening ceremony

GYBN arrives in PYEONGCHANG

Amidst the mist and fog surrounding the ancient mountains of Pyeongchang in Korea, a beautiful youth movement has been getting ready to shine its light once again as it contributes towards protecting biodiversity for the coming generations. This youth movement comes under the family name of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN).

GYBN is an international network of youth organisations and individuals from all over the world whose common goal is to prevent the loss of biodiversity. As the official major group for youth in the negotiations under the CBD, GYBN aims to represent the voice of global youth in the negotiations under the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Moreover, it aims to raise awareness among young people of the values of biodiversity in addition to connecting individuals and youth organisations, in order to build a global coalition to halt the loss of biodiversity.

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GYBN’s Youth Delegation filled with the spirit of the Korean Tigers during their Preparatory Meeting the day before the official opening of COP12

The idea of creating an international youth network to link young people in preserving of biodiversity immersed in 2008, however it wasn’t until the Tenth Conference of Parties (COP10) in 2010 that youth came together to announce their interest in starting a Global Youth Biodiversity Network.

GYBN was officially established at a conference hosted by NAJU in Berlin, Germany, which brought together 36 youth representing various organisations from 22 countries in August 2012. One of the many valuable outcomes of this conference was a position paper for the CBD COP11, which was hosted in Hyderabad. Two years down the line, GYBN had established a strong presence especially following the Montreal talks, which took place last June 2014. Four months later, within the short time since its establishment, GYBN succeeded in bringing together a youth delegation consisting of a representative from every inhabited continent to the CBD COP12 negotiations for the first time.

On the first day, despite the cold temperatures in Pyeongchang, the youth meeting room radiated with warmth erupting from the team’s excitement as they commenced their preparatory meeting for COP12. The CBD framework and decision making process was discussed followed by an overview of the COP12 agenda items and working groups. The team was treated to inspiring and wise words on how can youth influence the CBD process from a group of amazing panelists including Ms. Christine Von Weissäcker, Ms. Malta Qwathekana – the South African delegate, Mr. Horst Korn – the SBSTTA German Focal Point and Ms. Chantal Robichaud – a member of the Secretariat.

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Right to left: Ms. Christine Von Weissäcker, Ms. Malta Qwathekana, Ms. Chantal Robichaud and Mr. Horst Korn

The team also worked on defining youth positions on various topics along with their strategy plan for COP12 that covers various aspects such as interventions, campaigns, side events, press conferences and much more. After a long day of team building and educational sessions along with discussions around members personal goals and GYBN goals during COP12, and ways to achieve them; the generous Korean Council for Biological Diversity (KCBD) treated the team to a delicious Korean traditional style dinner. As the night took over and temperatures dropped lower, the team’s excitement soared as they looked forward to all that is to be experienced and gained in the next two weeks.

Youth platform for participation at the Convention on Biological Diversity