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G20 Saudi Arabia: The 2020 Riyadh Summit

Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema's, article in the G20 Saudi Arabia: The 2020 Riyadh Summit publication by the Global Governance Project 

"Safeguarding the planet is a key pillar of the Saudi G20 presidency, with targeted efforts under way to protect and advance human well-being, biodiversity and planetary health

The need for effective multilateralism has never been greater or more urgent. As the global community faces one of the greatest health, economic, social, environmental and developmental challenges of our time, we must ask ourselves how we can prevent this from happening again. Certainly, these challenges are multifaceted and thus cannot be tackled in isolation. Cooperation across all domains and sectors of society will be critical in mobilising and scaling up action and prevention in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics. As the world ‘recovers back better’, recognising the intrinsic connection between human health and the health and resilience of nature must serve not just as a stark reminder of the negative human actions on nature, but also as the basis of a global integrated approach for One Health, so that policies are coordinated and multiple sectors work together to achieve better public health outcomes.

The Convention on Biological Diversity stemmed from a growing international recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to the present as well as to future generations. Unfortunately, selfish human activities were, and still are, gravely endangering it. It is no longer undeniable that biodiversity is the foundation of human life and the part of nature that is alive. It covers all the relationships between living beings and the natural world including their environments, and therefore is not limited to being solely an inventory of species. We cannot survive without the biodiversity that feeds us, houses us, cures us and provides us with the air we breathe and the water we drink – plus all that nature inherently nurtures and sustains for human well-being.

A blueprint for biodiversity

Parties to the convention are currently developing the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with contributions from all stakeholders. It will be the overarching and universal blueprint framework on biodiversity – not only for the convention and all biodiversity-related agreements, but also for the entire United Nations system as well as the global community at large. The framework, which is expected to be adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Kunming, China, will play a momentous role in building resilience in the face of growing environmental, health, food security and development challenges. It will galvanise the global community to seek collaborative, multistakeholder joint solutions across these sectors. Without an ambitious framework that is embraced by all partners and stakeholders, the current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems loss will continue to undermine progress towards global goals including the Sustainable Development Goals and those under the Paris Agreement.

The United Nations General Assembly Summit on Biodiversity on 30 September 2020 was an important milestone on the road to COP 15. It highlighted the strong interlinkages among climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation. It reminded the international community that nature-based solutions, building on the preservation and restoration of biological diversity and ecosystems, offer an important opportunity for shared progress during the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development. As stated by the secretary-general of the United Nations, the world must take concerted action to safeguard our planet and ensure sustainable development that benefits the health, security and well-being of all peoples, particularly those in developing countries and among marginalised and vulnerable populations globally.

What is at stake

As we move to negotiate and adopt the framework next year, it remains urgent for the global community to increase its understanding of what is at stake, to foster action and the necessary transformation that secures the healthy future of this planet and all its peoples. This aligns extremely well with the themes of the G20 Riyadh Summit of empowering people, especially women and youth, and of safeguarding the planet by fostering collective efforts to protect our global commons. To achieve the level of transformation required to fulfil the needs of all peoples while protecting our planet, we need to work hand in hand with all sectors to reinforce the political importance of biodiversity at the highest levels. For this transformation to happen, the G20 plays the decisive role in moving the biodiversity agenda forwards without undermining its linkages with other sectors.

We will need transformative changes of our development models, as well as whole-of-government, whole-of-society integrated approaches on the basis of shared responsibility and global solidarity, in order to restore and protect nature, thereby ensuring the integrity and advancement of human well-being. Greener and sustainable post–COVID-19 recovery approaches provide an opportune moment for such transformation. It is my hope that the deliberations and decisions taken at the Riyadh Summit will provide further decisive steps in advancing this important global and multilateral agenda."

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More Information:

Preparations for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework

COP 15

Global Governance Project 


Excerpt from the G20 Riyadh Summit Leaders Declaration

  1. Environment, Energy, Climate: Preventing environmental degradation, conserving, sustainably using and restoring biodiversity, preserving our oceans, promoting clean air and clean water, responding to natural disasters and extreme weather events, and tackling climate change are among the most pressing challenges of our time. As we recover from the pandemic, we are committed to safeguarding our planet and building a more environmentally sustainable and inclusive future for all people.
  2. We strengthen our resolve to conserve our marine and terrestrial environment in advance of the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We launch the Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform to conserve coral reefs and the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation. Building on existing initiatives, we share the ambition to achieve a 50 percent reduction of degraded land by 2040, on a voluntary basis. We reaffirm our commitment to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter, as articulated by the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, and to end illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
  3. We stress our continued resolve to ensure a stable and uninterrupted supply of energy to achieve economic growth as we respond to the challenges brought about by the pandemic. We recognize the importance of expediting universal access, relying on innovation across fuels and technology options, to affordable and reliable energy for all, in accordance with national circumstances, including ensuring access to clean cooking and electricity. In this regard, we recognize the importance of utilizing the widest variety of fuels and technology options, according to national context, and leading energy transitions to realize the "3E+S" (Energy Security, Economic Efficiency, and Environment + Safety). We acknowledge the importance of maintaining undisrupted flows of energy and exploring paths to enhanced energy security and markets stability, while promoting open, competitive, and free international energy markets. We endorse the G20 Initiative on Clean Cooking and Energy Access and G20 Energy Security and Markets Stability Cooperation. We welcome the measures and recommendations of the Energy Focus Group (EFG), as endorsed by the Energy Ministers party to the EFG, to rebalance the energy markets and continue short and long-term investments. We reaffirm our joint commitment on medium term rationalization and phasing-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, while providing targeted support for the poorest.
  4. We endorse the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) Platform, with its 4Rs framework (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remove), recognizing the key importance and ambition of reducing emissions, taking into account system efficiency and national circumstances. The CCE is a voluntary, holistic, integrated, inclusive, pragmatic, and complementary approach to promote economic growth while enhancing environmental stewardship through managing emissions in all sectors including, but not limited to, energy, industry, mobility, and food. We acknowledge, in this context, the various voluntary opportunities and their acceleration highlighted by the CCE Guide. We acknowledge the Presidency Reports of the Climate Stewardship Working Group that can be utilized as a toolbox in addressing sustainability including climate change in the context of national circumstances. We also acknowledge the importance of fostering synergies between adaptation and mitigation, including through nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches.
  5. In advance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP26 in Glasgow and the UNCBD COP15 in Kunming, we reiterate our support for tackling pressing environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, as we promote economic growth, energy security and access for all, and environmental protection. Signatories to the Paris Agreement who confirmed at Osaka their determination to implement it, once again, reaffirm their commitment to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. These signatories recall the request by COP21 to communicate or update their nationally determined contributions reflecting their highest possible ambition, in accordance with their obligations under the Paris Agreement, taking into account means of implementation; and emphasize the importance of providing and mobilizing a wide variety of financial resources, to assist developing countries in their adaptation and mitigation efforts, in accordance with the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, reaffirming the importance of international cooperation. In addition, these signatories reiterate the invitation to communicate by 2020 long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. These signatories recall the commitment made by developed countries to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. All G20 members also continue to support efforts and utilize all available approaches aimed at advancing environmental stewardship for future generations, and emphasize that further global efforts are needed to address these challenges, while maintaining healthy economies conducive to growth, decent jobs, and innovation.

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