Biodiversity COP15 starts with split on conservation

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Who is responsible for conserving global biodiversity? This is the question that is blocking the negotiations of the COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which begins this Wednesday (7th) and runs until the 19th, in Montreal, Canada. The goal is to reach a new global agreement that brings countries together around a conservation goal.

The most popular proposal is called 30×30 and is expected to conserve 30% of global biodiversity by 2030. NGOs and social movements defend a larger portion, which guarantees the conservation of 50% of ecosystems.

On Monday (5), the most ambitious goal was defended in a letter signed by dozens of Brazilian organizations, including Apib (Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil) and MST (Movimento Sem Terra).

Although there are still several proposed numbers on the table, the detail, however that splits the countries’ positions, is the definition of whether the target is global or national. Brazil works against the global goal. It proposes, instead, that each country undertake to conserve 30% of its territory, so that the goal becomes national.

The strategy seeks to prevent the responsibility for a large part of the global biodiversity from being pushed into the national territory, which is the most biodiverse in the world. China, South Africa and other megabiodiverse and developing countries follow Brazil in this position.

Some developed countries, however, have said there will be no agreement without a global target. For the rich bloc, the responsibility for conservation lies with the countries that hold biodiversity.

So that biodiverse territories do not become a burden for the country in possession, which would have the use of its territory restricted, the proposal defended by countries, scientists and environmental organizations is that the rest of the world finance the conservation of these territories.

Here comes another divergence: developing countries want this to happen through a new fund, aimed at biodiversity. The proposal, made by Brazil at the beginning of the year, gained momentum after the approval of a new climate fund at COP27, last month.

But the rich countries avoid assuming this commitment and are already saying that the financing must come from all sources —public and private.

Another way to economically value biodiversity is the definition of economic incentives for activities that contribute to conservation and the extinction of subsidies to harmful actions for biomes.

In this regard, Brazil tries to promote the bioeconomy (which involves the exploitation of non-timber forest species, with the extraction of cocoa, nuts, açaí, among others), but faces resistance and distrust, especially from Europeans. That’s because the country is also going to COP15 to protect agricultural trade, avoiding, for example, a European Union proposal that provides for cutting subsidies for pesticides — something that Brazil seeks to protect.

“Brazil is confident that various sectors of its economy, including agribusiness, present success stories of sustainability, which contribute to reaffirming the Brazilian commitment to promoting sustainable development and social inclusion, allied to the promotion of innovation, science and technology”, says a letter from Itamaraty sent in response to the request for information by federal deputy Rodrigo Agostinho (PSB-SP) on Brazilian positions at COP15.

THE Sheet had access to letters sent by the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy, Agriculture and Justice in response to the deputy. The Ministry of the Environment was the only one that did not respond to the questions and asked for more time, although it sent negotiators to complete the team of diplomats at COP15.

Among the negotiations that most engaged the Itamaraty and the Brazilian private sector in this COP, are the payment for environmental services and the sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, which can be implemented from the negotiation, in this COP, of the Information Mechanism of Digital Sequencing (known as DSI).

Although the countries have only 12 days of negotiation ahead of them, the expectation that they will reach a consensus that will allow signing a new global agreement for biodiversity is low, since they arrive at COP15 with little progress gleaned from the two preparatory meetings. The draft agreement has already been negotiated in Geneva, in March, and in Nairobi, Kenya, in June.

In addition to the core issues on the global target and financing, countries maintain conflicting positions on at least six other targets, on restoration, spatial areas for conservation, pollution, climate, integration with other areas and financing.

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