The implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will need to address the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and help to catalyse ecosystem restoration over the decade as a basis for progress towards the SDGs. The entire UN system has a central role to play in these efforts, knowing that biodiversity serves as a safety net for humanity, by buffering us from the worst of climate change, sustaining our health and well-being and maintaining economies. By conserving and sustainably using biodiversity we can harness the power of nature to secure the future health, security and a path out of poverty for billions of people.
The "Supporting the Global Biodiversity Agenda: A United Nations System Commitment for Action to assist Member States delivering on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework" report recognized that biodiversity is fundamental to our existence, our economies, the quality of life for all people and the effective enjoyment of human rights. The report also acknowledged the important need to facilitate the contribution of the United Nations system to the development and implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Of the report, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity said, "The Environmental Management Group's report on the global biodiversity agenda and the United Nations System Commitment for Action provide the mechanism through which we, in the UN system, shall work together for this purpose and toward the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. They will serve to demonstrate, to all actors, that the United Nations system is ready to support transformative changes and facilitate a shift away from, 'business as usual'."
High Level Discussion Event: May 25
On May 25, 2021, an event was held titled, "UN Environment Management Group invites you to a high-level virtual dialogue on the UN system’s contribution to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Agenda." The discussion was a chance for high profile officials to express their commitments to an ambitious Post 2020 Global Environment Framework. High profile attendees included: Ligia Noronha, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Secretary of the Environment Management Group; Inger Andersen, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The event centered around four key topics:
- The key systemic challenges in integrating biodiversity for sustainable development.
- How the UN system can contribute more effectively to the implementation of agreed global commitments and national priorities needed to set the world on path towards a more sustainable and equitable future with a focus on biodiversity which provides the foundation for life on Earth.
- Accountability and engagement for transformative system change to halt the loss of and restore biodiversity
- Efforts to establish a "common approach" to integrating biodiversity into UN policy and programme planning and delivery.
UN-wide initiatives which can help build momentum and mobilize action in support of biodiversity:
As relevant and in line with their mandates, UN agencies will support Member States in the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the biodiversity-related elements of the SDGs, with a focus on improving enabling conditions, data, investments and other means of implementation. This will require mainstreaming biodiversity for sustainable development, in particular within the UN’s Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework as well as integrating biodiversity with other key areas of strategic planning (e.g. hunger and poverty reduction, food and agriculture, human health and well-being, climate action, sustainable forest management and zero deforestation, ocean ecosystems, infrastructure, trade, energy, finance, national accounting, governance, human rights including indigenous peoples’ rights, and justice) to realize multiple benefits as well as address potential trade-offs and avoid negative impacts on nature. Equally important is the need to mainstream national criminal justice and preventive responses into national biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development agendas in line with the SDGs.
Building on their existing complementarities and in line with UN reform, the new approach of UN Country teams and UN Sustainable Development Regional Coordination, including issue-based coalitions, UN entities can play a key role in ensuring comprehensive approaches to biodiversity. The work of UN entities and such issue-based coalitions can also serve to strengthen biodiversity-related actions in the current and ongoing work of the UN in support of countries, such as the NBSAP Forum, the UN Biodiversity Lab and UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative
UN agencies need to strengthen biodiversity awareness and capacities for biodiversity conservation and enhancement within the UN system. In line with the UN Sustainability Strategy 2020-203077 and the objective for “Greening the Blue”, and with the recent EC and CEB decisions, UN agencies should strive to address the drivers of biodiversity loss and embed biodiversity standards in their procurement, project and programme planning and implementation, as well as “avoid adverse impacts on biodiversity from UN facilities, operations and activities".
One of the many assets of the UN system is its diversity, providing members with a wide range of competences and know-how across its funds, programmes, specialized agencies and regional bodies. These allow the UN to respond to local, national and regional specificities and to focus on different issues and sectors, but at the same time can also lead to individual agencies working alone in narrowly-focused silos.
This challenges the capacity of the UN to address complex and interconnected issues such as biodiversity loss. In that regard, full benefit should be made from initiatives such as the UN «decades» (the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration83, the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals84 and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development85) which involve many UN agencies with complementary mandates to reflect the new vision for more coordinated approaches across the UN system and allowing for comprehensive and inclusive approaches.