Why is there a Biodiversity and a Climate COP and could/should they be merged?
With the climate COP (UNFCCC COP27) just finishing and within a matter of weeks the Biodiversity COP (CBD COP15) kicking off, many are asking the reasons behind why there are two separate COP’s, particularly when they seemingly deal with overlapping and interlinked issues.
Background – how were the Conventions created?
The Rio Earth Summit in 1992 agreed to the establishment of three new conventions (“the Rio Conventions”). The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (to tackle climate change), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (to tackle biodiversity loss) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) (to tackle issues related to land degradation and desertification). A special financial mechanism “The Global Environment Facility (the GEF)” was also set up just ahead of Rio (in 1991) to help fund environmental projects. It also serves as the financial mechanism to the three Rio Conventions (as well as a number of other conventions).
Why are there three Conventions when they are tackling overlapping issues?
The three separate Conventions were set up to tackle three different issues, recognising that whilst there is some significant overlap between the three, each also have their own agendas which are wider than the overlaps the three share. For example, climate change is just one of the five drivers of biodiversity loss and nature is just one of the solutions for tackling climate change.
How do the three Conventions communicate?
Recognising the overlaps between the three agendas and also the need to join up across them, a process called the “Rio Pavilions” was set up to convene discussions on the inter-related issues of biodiversity loss, climate change and land degradation. The Secretariats of the three Conventions also often meet to discuss how they can enhance joint working.
What initiatives have been launched over the year to merge the three COPs?
There have been a number of initiatives to bring the different agendas together. These include the following:
- A Rio Presidency Partnership Initiative (consisting of the Presidencies of each of the three Rio Conventions, their respective secretariats and the GEF) to discuss closer working across the three ConventionsThe Global Landscapes Forum – which was set up originally in the margins of the UNFCCC but has since become an entity in itself (and which focuses on tackling the climate/land/biodiversity nexus).
- Specific technical working groups looking at issues related to climate change and biodiversity with participation from both Conventions.
- A joint workshop between the two scientific bodies of the two conventions (IPCC and IPBES) looking at the science behind climate change and biodiversity
- Themed days at the COP’s e.g. “Nature Day at COP26” and “Biodiversity Day at COP27” etc
- There have also been separate initiatives and discussions to merge the work of the other Biodiversity Conventions (in addition to CBD, there are also a number of other Biodiversity Conventions including CMS, Ramsar and CITES, as well as work done on these issues by FAO and UNESCO).