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.


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”.


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…

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.


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.”


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!


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 platform for participation at the Convention on Biological Diversity