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20 December 2018

Holistic global framework is needed to fight biodiversity loss

Heading towards 2020 now it is time to review how much global biodiversity policies have delivered the targets and what we can learn from past experiences. CEEweb also took stock and provided a submission to the Secteratiat of the Convention on Biological Diversity for future policies outlining the proposals below:

The Aichi targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity shall be reached by 2020 to halt biodiversity loss by addressing the drivers, pressures, state, impacts and responses. Even though the Strategic Plan and the Aichi targets take the right approach in covering all elements of the causal framework, countries have not managed to reach the Aichi targets – only one out of the twenty is expected to be achieved!

We beleive that this remarkable underperformance is a result of conflicting sectoral policies, where the traditional approach of biodiversity mainstreaming cannot deliver the necessary results due to several reasons:

  • Tackling the drivers and the pressures primarily lies outside the responsibility of biodiversity stakeholders. The nature conservation sector in general does not have a strong advocacy power within governmental structures, and their position has been even weakening in the last years in several countries, like in Central and Eastern Europe. This weakening position is manifested in legally and/or politically diminishing authority to participate in decisions, shrinking financial and human resources and the decreasing capacities of civil society to engage in nature conservation as a result of undemocratic trends in several countries.
  • This low advocacy power comes from a combination of external factors, such as the conflicting sectoral interests and the lack of political will and low understanding on biodiversity among high-level politicans, which is becoming more apparent in a trend of centralising governance in several countries. The largely unbalanced power relationship between the sectoral interest groups/ economic actors and environmental/nature conservation sector greatly amplifies this. This partly stems from the different nature of the natural resources that the conflicting sectors depend on: while the nature conservation sector primarily safeguards depletable renewable resources (where the yield is limited by the regeneration capacity and speed of natural cycles), most of the conflicting sectors use nonrenewable resources, (where the profit generation is not limited by natural cycles). Another important factor is the type of financial resources on the conflicting sides: public money that is tagged to specific actions with virtually unlimited demands, versus private money being more easily available for exercising the lobby power through various legal and illegal ways of a higher order of magnitude.
  • Siloed policies and policy making, where there are no international and national standards for biodiversity and sustainability proofing of policies. Even though some tools (e.g. strategic environmental assessments) are available and governments do make efforts on this to a varying degree, this is all far from enough. This is also confirmed by the study that finds correlation between sectoral integration and good governance instead with wealth.


Thus we suggest more effective holistic policies in the post 2020 policy framework, namely:


1. Keep the current structure of the SP focusing on the drivers, pressures, state, impacts and responses. This is important for the proper understanding of the causal relationships among the problems and relationships among natural, societal and economic factors and help to identify the responsibilities of the sectors and stakeholders.

2. Broaden the targets on addressing the drivers, which can help to create the suitable socio-economic environment for all other targets and measures. In particular aim for mitigating the conflict of interests between the nature conservation and other sectors through holistic policies and financing schemes. As the state of biodiversity is influenced by three types of environmental pressures, namely resource use, land use and pollution, effective biodiversity conservation strategies also need to address all of them, while creating the interests for stakeholders to decrease such pressures in their own actions. In the case of resource and land use economic tools are the most effective and efficient means to achieve this. Experience show that voluntary commitments from business actors and endeveurs for legal regulation are insufficient to achieve the necessary results. 


Thus we suggest to include global targets for developing holistic resource and land use schemes on national and global levels:

    By 2030, at the latest, coherent land use policies have been introduced for all land use types with a view to decrease the overall intensity of land use with the use of financial incentives.

A concept for coherent land use policy is included here.


Suggested target on resource use:

    By 2030, at the latest, coherent resource use policies have been introduced with a view to decrease global resource use with the use of financial incentives based on the principle of global justice.

A concept for coherent resource use policy as also advocated by the European Resource Cap Coalition is included here.


3. We suggest to further strengthen the efforts on sectoral integration by developing golden standards, i.e. a new methodological approach of biodiversity and sustainability proofing of all policies. This new approach builds on different substantive, procedural and institutional proofing tools and fully considers the mitigation hierarchy: focusing on preventing problems and decreasing trade-offs with the help of mitigation measures if needed, and using compensation measures as the last resort. Developing the methodological framework can build on cimilar attempts, e.g. the methodolgical framework of biodiversity proofing cohesion funding in the European Union.


   By 2025, biodiversity and sustainability proofing standards have been developed for the integration of biodiversity values into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes, which enables good governance in the pursuit of biodiversity objectives.


4. Finally, we also urge the reinforcement of the CBD through liability mechanisms to encourage government responsibility with regard to biodiversity resources, human rights, and a healthy environment.


5. Suggestions for resource mobilisation

The most effective means of resource mobilisation for biodiversity are holistic land use and resource use policies including an incentive scheme as for instance outlined in the annexes. However, all kinds of incentive schemes and financing mechanisms shall respect a number of principles for the benefit of biodiversity conservation.

It must be consistent with the CBD and the delivery of all of its three objectives, such as the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. Any potential trade-offs among the impacts on the three objectives shall be carefully considered.


The resources created and mobilised through the mechanism should be generated from unsustainable use of resources or land and lead towards more sustainable use. However, financial resources always – directly or indirectly – are generated with the use of resources and energy, which are themselves environmental pressures. Thus, when designing the financing mechanisms they should be only in place until the conservation objectives are reached, and the overall environmental costs and benefits should be calculated within the framework of a “sustainability check”.

Such assessment shall include consideration of:

a. How are the finances generated, do they have negative environmental impact elsewhere (e.g. lead to indirect land use change, increased resource use)?


b. How long is the mobilised resource available – what does the availability in time depends on – and how does it relate to the biological cycles it is supposed to preserve or restore?


c. How much is the mechanism vulnerable to market forces?