Various countries gathered past week in Nairobi for the final preparatory session before the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity which will be held in Montreal December 5-17.
While countries have repeatedly pointed to COP15 as an opportunity to deliver a global deal for nature and similar in significance to the Paris Climate Agreement, the lack of progress in this penultimate meeting has now threatened the outcome of the entire process, say civil society leaders.
With over 20 action targets in the draft agreement, known as the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the goal for the Nairobi meetings was to resolve issues for up to 80 per cent of the negotiating text that had been put in brackets, which signals a disagreement amongst parties.
Not only did countries fail to progress, but in some cases, new disagreements threatened to move the process in the opposite direction.
The most fundamental issues, including how much funding would be committed to conserve biodiversity, and what percentage figures the world should strive to protect, conserve, and restore to address the extinction crisis, were not even addressed.
With time running out, civil society leaders and others are calling for urgent and increased political engagement and leadership at the highest level to deliver the ambitious, science-based agreement that is needed to safeguard nature around the world.
Brian O'Donnell, Director of the Campaign for Nature, said: "With the negotiations now faltering and with some key issues at a stalemate, it is up to heads of state and other political and United Nations leaders to act with the leadership and urgency required to bring countries together around an ambitious global biodiversity strategy.
"The elements of an ambitious agreement are there. Nearly 100 countries have come together to support the proposal to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet's land and ocean by 2030, one of the cornerstones of the draft agreement, and the crucial issue of protecting indigenous rights has widespread support.
"But time is now running out and countries need to step up, show the leadership that this moment requires, and act urgently to find compromise and solutions."
The Nature Conservancy's Director, Biodiversity Policy and Infrastructure, Linda Krueger, said: "Global interest from the UN Secretary General, ministers, and heads of state is needed in the run up to December, to secure anything like what is needed to slow the extinction and nature loss crisis.
"Despite scheduling this emergency meeting to address key sticking points within the draft Global Biodiversity Framework language, and also agreeing a date and host country for the final round of negotiations, we are appalled by the lack of progress this week. We need to raise this on the political agenda. The negotiations have lacked fire and momentum."
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