Screengrab from the ACB 2020 Kick-off: ASEAN-CBD Dialogue on post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

23 September 2020— Delegations from the ASEAN Member States (AMS) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on Wednesday met in a virtual dialogue on the landmark post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) at the kick-off event of the Third ASEAN Conference on Biodiversity or ACB 2020.

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) Malaysia launched the series of virtual sessions that will be held monthly this year in the run-up to a physical conference to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD next year.

Themed “Towards 2050: Living in Harmony with Nature”, the virtual ACB 2020 sessions kicked off with the dialogue between the ASEAN and the CBD and on ACB’s month-long celebration of its 15th year anniversary.

“This dialogue is intended as a platform for the ASEAN Member States’ biodiversity sector policymakers to engage directly with the CBD as well as the co-chair of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) to enhance understanding on the post-2020 GBF with a focus on several priority areas including mainstreaming, resource mobilisation and nature-based solutions,” Dr. Khairul Naim Adham, undersecretary of the Biodiversity Management Division of KeTSA, said in his welcome remarks.

ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim said the meeting was planned ahead of the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, which will be convened by the President of the UN General Assembly at the level of heads of states and governments on 30 September 2020.

“As we move forward, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework becomes central to our common objectives of putting biodiversity on a path to recovery through halting biodiversity loss and finding solutions in nature”, Lim said noting that it is in the interest of the Region to arrive at the best agreement under the new biodiversity deal.

Also in the panel were CBD Secretariat Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Basile van Havre, co-chair of the Open Ended Working Group on the post-2020 GBF, and Ky Anh Nguyen, director of Sustainable Development Directorate of the ASEAN Secretariat’s Socio-Cultural Department.

Facilitating support

Mrema, in her message, commended AMS’ contributions to the development of the post-2020 GBF and said the CBD Secretariat “counts on the ACB” to continue its facilitating support.”

“The CBD Secretariat looks forward to continue collaborating with the ACB and the ASEAN Member States in the preparation of a robust and ambitious post-2020 GBF…The ACB and the CBD Secretariat collaborate on several other issues relevant to the post-2020 GBF,” Mrema added that progress has been made in the efforts to develop the long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming, which is equally linked to the post-2020 GBF.

Mrema also encouraged the AMS to strengthen their National Clearing House Mechanisms, which provide effective information services to facilitate the implementation of the national biodiversity strategies and action plans, an important role in accelerating and coordinating efforts in biodiversity conservation.

Resource mobilisation

The meeting also brought to light key issues brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mobilising resources for biodiversity conservation.

“The global policy responses to the pandemic are heading to a series of budgetary implications, particularly for developing countries. In light of the pandemic, mobilising additional resources for biodiversity will not be an easy task”, Mrema said stressing that resource mobilisation is an integral element of the framework.

She said the panel of experts tapped by the CBD reported that significant resources must be drawn for biodiversity conservation in the next decade.

Some representatives of the AMS, however, noted possible difficulties in getting additional resources to meet the new targets under the post-2020 framework due to the realignment of funds for COVID-19 response.

Dr. Naing Zaw Htun of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar pointed out that the pandemic could negatively affect resource mobilization or international financial flow to the biodiversity conservation.

Van Havre, in his response, said that as the global economic growth depends on biodiversity, nations must invest in nature conservation as part of their economic investments.

In his presentation, the OEWG co-chair provided updates on the zero draft of the new framework and how its implementation will reduce threats to biodiversity and address the needs of the people.

ASEAN inputs

In its intervention, Singapore stressed the need to identify quantitative indicators to measure the progress in the implementation of the post-2020 framework and involve all levels of participation in the processes.

“We cannot change what we cannot measure. Relevant quantitative indicators to measure our progress should be identified”, said Dr. Lena Chan, Senior Director of the International Biodiversity Conservation Division of Singapore’s National Parks.

Indonesia, meanwhile, proposed expanding the focus areas of the AMS to include saving the genetic resources of species, given that the solution to the global pandemic will be closely related to the exploration of genetic resources from wild plant and animal species in nature.

This should be done “in accordance with the effort to share a fair and equal benefit from its use to the [original] state and people, who originally own this knowledge, information and material”, Nining Ngudi Purnamaningtyas, deputy director for biodiversity conservation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, said.

In his closing remarks, Ky Anh Nguyen expressed hope that the voice of ASEAN would serve as an important consideration in the global negotiations for this ambitious strategy for biodiversity conservation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has really brought our relationship with the natural world to light. As we seek to build back better, let us continue to highlight the vital role of nature-based solutions through cross-sectoral collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement, and to ensure that action on biodiversity conservation is part of our resilient and sustainable recovery efforts,” Nguyen said.