UNGA’s Second Committee Considers Biodiversity and Sustainable Development
1 November 2010: The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) began its consideration of sustainable development on 1 November 2010 in New York, US. Biodiversity was among the many issues addressed by member States.
Before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on the implementation of UN environmental conventions (document A/65/294) transmitting the reports submitted by the Secretariats of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD report recommended that the Assembly designate 2011-2020 the UN Decade of Biodiversity, and that governments that have not yet become parties to that treaty and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety do so as soon as possible.
The Committee also had before it the report of the third ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (document A/65/383), as well as a letter dated 1 October 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Spain addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/65/485). The letter transmitted a copy of the Cordoba Declaration on the role of agricultural biodiversity in addressing hunger and climate change.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, presented his report on the work of the Conference of the Parties (COP), noting that at its 10th meeting in Nagoya, Japan (COP 10), participants had adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS), which established the foundation for a new international economic and ecological order, based on respect for nature in its diversity, including human beings. He also pointed to the adoption of a "road map" from Nagoya to India. As part of the Nagoya Protocol, parties agreed that there would be an early entry into force in 2012. He stressed that the ABS Protocol was a major instrument for achieving the “Aichi Target,” a new strategic plan on biodiversity for 2011-2020. He then outlined efforts by governments and donor agencies to support implementation of the Aichi targets.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) introduced the report of the Third Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), underlining that the meeting had concluded that an intergovernmental platform should be established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
A number of speakers made reference to COP 10, with Belgium, on behalf of the EU, Ethiopia and Brazil welcoming the adoption of the ABS Protocol. Japan reported that the Nagoya Protocol on ABS had been successfully adopted on the basis of the Chair's proposal and following “long and difficult negotiations.” Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating with the Group of 77, welcomed the successful conclusion of the COP and urged States to ensure the decrease and prevention of further biodiversity loss. Costa Rica recalled that during COP 10 it had received the Future Policy Award 2010 for launching the world's best biodiversity law by the World Future Council and the CBD. South Africa called for maintaining the momentum to significantly reduce biodiversity loss despite limited financial, human and technical capacity, especially in the developing world. Japan proposed the adoption of a resolution on the UN Decade of Biodiversity, to correspond with the CBD's strategic plan.
On the IPBES, Belgium, on behalf of the EU, Norway, Brazil and Switzerland supported fully its creation, with Switzerland supporting the selection of UNEP as its host. The Republic of Korea stated that strengthening the science-policy interface would pave the way for environmental sustainability by allowing States to make better informed decisions. The US emphasized that there was great potential in creating an IPBES, in line with the Busan Outcome.
On finance, Nepal, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), expressed concern about biodiversity loss in LDCs and called for increased, predictable and timely financial support through a more direct mechanism, to help them cope.
A number of speakers addressed biodiversity and interrelated challenges. Chile said the Rio Group was experiencing the effects of climate change “in an accelerated manner,” as evidenced by the shrinking of glaciers, accelerated desertification, lack of water for agriculture, large land and marine biodiversity loss, and more frequent extreme weather that threatened to reverse the region's development gains. Ethiopia underscored that in order to make global biodiversity conservation sustainable, soil degradation, pollution and climate change must be stopped. Peru said threats to biodiversity, including those caused by climate change, constituted a cross-cutting and multidimensional challenge. Thailand said three issues were critical to sustainable development in light of the Millennium Goals relating to biodiversity loss, climate change and the obstacles faced by small island developing States (SIDS): the emergence of a new development paradigm; international environmental governance; and enhanced partnerships. Gabon, on behalf of the African Group, stressed the need for sustainable solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss, drought, desertification and natural disasters. [UN Press Release]