Indigenous and Local Community representatives expressing the frustration of many Non-Government Organizations on progress to achieve the Global Biodiversity Framework at the June 2022 negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya.
Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis.

By Peter Bridgewater, Kim Friedman, Vera Agostini, Tundi Agardy, Salvatore Aricò, Frank Biermann, Kate Brown, Ian Cresswell, Erle C. Ellis, Pierre Failler, Rakhyun Kim, Christelle Pratt, Jake Rice, Vivienne Rivera, and Lida Teneva.

This Plain Language Summary is published ahead of the article discussed; check back soon for a link to the full paper.

We hear more and more about international meetings deliberating on existential crises facing humanity – changing climate, changing biodiversity, rising pollution. Yet these are not new issues, rather they have grown by stealth. Fifty years ago, the world’s leaders came together in Stockholm, Sweden, to discuss what was then already obvious; the global environment was deteriorating.  Each decade since there have been global meeting making calls for stronger action, especially on mitigating climate change and reducing nature (biodiversity) loss.  The major international treaty on nature is the Convention on Biological Diversity  with 193 governments as full members.  The convention has, since 2002, been attempting to reduce, even halt, biodiversity loss by setting global goals and targets.  But all attempts have met with failure.  Since 2020, the convention has been trying to negotiate a new Global Biodiversity Framework, enmeshing goals and targets that try to learn from previous failures.  Yet after four international meetings of specialists and negotiators, the framework has not been finalised – even though it is due for acceptance by the convention in December 2022. 

There are many reasons for the lack of agreement, and we have identified six areas of action that can help undo the roadblocks. These are:

1) reframing the narrative of people’s relationship with the rest of nature;

2) going beyond a focus on endangered species and spaces;

3) supporting a diversity of top-down and bottom-up governance processes for people and biodiversity;

4) embracing new technologies to make and measure progress on the rate and direction of change for biodiversity;

5) linking business with biodiversity in a better way; and

6) leveraging the power of international agencies and programmes. 

While each of the areas of action are separate and important, they are also linked in various ways meaning all six areas need simultaneous attention and integration in the framework. We hope these ideas are food for thought for the negotiators entering the final straight for the convention’s key meeting in December 2022, as well as the readership of People and Nature more widely. A successful framework for nature is vital not just for the convention’s future, but, linked with successful climate actions, is crucial to making the earth a safer place for people and the rest of nature in the coming decades, centuries, and millennia.