Faiths at COP15 for an ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Faiths at COP15 for an ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Faith-based organizations are engaging in the negotiations at the UN Biodiversity Conference on the current draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), understanding that much work remains to be done for an ambitious GBF to be adopted and sincerely hoping that State Parties will continue to work to achieve an ambitious GBF.

The UN Biodiversity Conference is held in two parts due to the pandemic, with the first part held virtually in Kunming, China from 11 to 15 October 2021. Ongoing in Montreal, Canada from 7 to 19 December 2022 is the second part, immediately following the fifth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG-5) that is conducting the GBF negotiations.

The UN Biodiversity Conference includes the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention or COP15 which is expected to adopt the GBF that will “set out a new plan to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity and ensure the Convention’s 2050 vision of living in harmony nature is fulfilled.”

Following is the multi-faith response document put together by various faith-based organizations that shares a vision for a world living in harmony with nature with key messages and recommendations for consideration in the ongoing negotiations. This document and related events are available at Faiths at COP15.

Our vision: The Web of Life

As people of faith, who believe in the sacredness of all life, we believe the text needs to reflect the worldviews which are grounded in interconnectedness, interdependence and relationship and speak to the sacred wisdom and experiences of many people including Indigenous Peoples, spiritual communities and faith groups.

Ambition

Given the recent launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the importance of restoration in moving towards living in harmony with nature, we are encouraged that the 2030 missionconsiders taking urgent action across society to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.Additionally the GBF needs to reflect the current and impending biodiversity crisis and increase ambition by addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss, in a fair and equitable way for the benefit of present and future generations and all life on earth. We believe that genuine transformative change is needed at all levels to achieve living in harmony with nature and an equitable rights-based nature positive world.

Rights-Based Approach

We believe that the framework will not and cannot succeed without the knowledge, expertise, and active participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) and other historically marginalized groups. The framework must ensure IPLCs are recognized and empowered as active partners and decision-makers, not just as participants, in this process and that their rights to land, water and other resources are respected and protected. The Framework must center the goals of sustainable use and equitable rights-based governance and management of ecosystems.

Integrating a rights-based approach within the framework will need to be clearly defined so that it addresses the issues of power imbalances between different groups and furthers rights of all living beings and the accountability of duty bearers.

  • We are concerned by the trend to want to move several human rights based approaches and safeguards language from the targets to the section B.Bis, as a cross cutting issue. Although it is important to have a strong B.Bis section with fundamental principles, it is equally important that human rights safeguards remain in the targets, and be fully part of the implementation mechanism. We emphasize the importance of maintaining this language to ensure that implementing the biodiversity framework does not adversely impact IPLCs and other vulnerable communities in the name of progress.
  • The GBF should fully respect, protect and fulfill human rights in alignment with State obligations under accepted human rights conventions and declarations, including ILO169 and UNDRIP (which uphold Indigenous rights) and integrate the newly recognised right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment(UNGA Resolution 76/300).
  • It is particularly important to keep strong rights-based conservation and restoration targets, with Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)as well as land tenure rights in T1 (Planning), T2 (Degraded Ecosystems) and T3 (Conserved areas), and to recognize customary sustainable use in T5 (use of wild species) and T9 (Benefits). It is also very important to keep human rights safeguards in T15 (Business).

Cross-Cutting Issues

An integrated approach, such as the One Health Model, is required to address the complex nature of the biodiversity crisis. Solutions that are not holistic are incomplete and unsustainable.

We recognize that there are other related and convergent mechanisms that have within them biodiversity goals. We therefore underscore the need for policy coherence and synchronization of programmes across interconnected processes, such as National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions in the climate change regime.

In particular, we urge that the framework’s mission, goals and targets be coherent with climate change, pollution policies and others, as agreed by parties through other international instruments.

Production & Extraction

Targets should be strengthened to incentivize the just transition of industries which rely on the production and extraction of natural resources towards living in harmony with nature and systems imbued with the sacred rights of people and planet.

The GBF needs to better reflect and address the overwhelming impact that industrial agriculture, food systems and fossil fuel industries have in driving the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem destruction. It is important to include agro-ecology in T10 (agriculture and forestry)for instance.

The benefits of the ethical utilization of genetic resources must be shared fairly and equitably, to ensure that the development of such technology does not cause harm to the very populations it intends to serve.

An ethical and holistic response to living in harmony with nature cannot occur without addressing the existing economic systems in place that must prioritize the wellbeing of people and the planet over short term financial profit.

Implementation Mechanism

More details on the implementation mechanism is needed to guide member states as they set out on raising their ambition and integrating the framework into their national conservation plans. The mechanism should allow tracking of progress and the ability to increase action if sufficient progress is not made.

The implementation mechanism should be agreed upon at COP15 to ensure implementation can start immediately.

Recognizing the positive dimensions and contributions of faith based organizations, which motivate many to act for the betterment of the environment, we are encouraged to see the recognition of the role faith based organizations play in cultivating an enabling environment for the implementation of the global biodiversity framework through a participatory and inclusive whole of society approach. We were concerned by the lack of transparency in the Informal Group gathering at the end of September 2022 and we hope that the participatory and inclusive whole of society approach will determine the next steps towards the adoption of the GBF.

A full financial gap analysis must be completed in parallel with targets to avoid delays in implementation. Resources that are raised must be distributed to the places and people that most require them. Subsidies that are harmful to the environment (such as fossil fuels, industrial animal agriculture, and mining) must be repurposed or eliminated on as ambitious a timescale as possible recognizing the importance of a just transition.

Signatories

A Rocha International, ACT Alliance, Anglican Consultative Council, Atisha Dipankar Peace Trust Bangladesh, Bahá’í International Community, Bahu Trust, Bhumi Global, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), Center for Earth Ethics, Columban Missionaries, Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, Danmission, Deignan Institute for Earth and Spirit at Iona University, Développement et Paix, Dominican Leadership Conference, Eco Dharma Network, Faith & the Common Good, Fast For the Climate, Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada, Fondazione Proclade Internazionale-Onlus, Footsteps – Faiths for a Low Carbon Future, GLOBAL ONE 2015, Global Peace House Brahma Kumaris, Govardhan Ecovillage, Green Hope Foundation, Hazon, International Environment Forum, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Sciences, Islamic Society of North America (ISN), KAIROS-Canada, Laudato Si’ Movement, Martha Justice Ministry/Sisters of St. Martha Antigonish, Ministry for Social Justice, Peace, and Creation Care/Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, New Humanity, Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity/Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Office of Religious Congregations for Integral Ecology (Canada), Parliament of the World’s Religions, Quaker Earthcare Witness, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, River Above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network (RAOEN), Shambhala Touching the Earth Collective, Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Western Province Leadership, Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Soka Gakkai International, Temple of Understanding, The Episcopal Diocese of California, The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, UISG-USG JPIC Commission, United Religions Initiative, World Evangelical Alliance

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