The world is running out of time to reach an ambitious deal to stem the destruction of the natural world, the negotiating co-chair of a crucial UN wildlife summit has warned, amid fears of a third delay in talks .
Negotiators are due to meet in Kunming, China, in October for Cop15, the largest biodiversity summit in a decade, to reach a hoped-for Parisian-style deal on preventing wildlife extinctions and destruction by humans of the planet’s ecosystems.
The summit was scheduled to take place in October last year, but has been twice delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Basile van Havre, co-chair of the negotiations of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), raised the prospect of a third postponement of the Kunming summit, which he said would threaten the ambition of biodiversity targets for this decade.
Van Havre said countries must meet in person for preparatory talks for at least two weeks if the biodiversity summit is to take place in China. He warned the talks were unlikely without a major push on vaccinating delegates from developing countries and, given China’s restrictive travel policy, also called on another country to step up and hold preparatory talks. to help the process meet the current schedule.
“In my opinion, now is the time to roll up our sleeves and put a practical plan on the table or deal with another delay. We need a suitable plan, ”said Van Havre. “If we have to delay for a few months, fine, everyone can understand that. But let’s give ourselves a comprehensive plan that allows us to meet deadlines and not wait for things to magically happen.
“If we don’t want to meet in the short term, we can’t have an ambitious agreement. “
Negotiators are nearing the end of the grueling virtual science and financial talks for the deal, which have been held six days a week for three hours. The time zone clashes meant some negotiators entered the talks in the early hours.
“I really feel sorry for the people who come from the small Pacific island states where the negotiation takes place at night. The lady representing Palau said she negotiates at night and does her job during the day, which is not what we had in mind, ”said Van Havre, stressing the importance of meeting in person.
A decision is expected on the next steps for the Kunming summit in mid-June.
Li Shuo, Greenpeace China policy adviser who has been following the biodiversity negotiations closely, said it was clear that decisions need to be made face to face, not online.
“Virtual talks are not without flaws; they helped move the discussion forward. The problem is, there is so much work. They only do three hours a day – it’s just not enough time, ”Li said.
“China is unlikely to allow thousands of diplomats to come with the pandemic. What if someone tested positive on the second police day? A normal Cop15 in October that completes all of its main tasks is tough. “
Resource extraction, agricultural production and pollution are behind what some scientists consider to be the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, with 1 million species threatened with extinction largely due to the ‘human activity. The world has never achieved a single United Nations goal to prevent the destruction of nature.