Service on UN Sustainable Development (Dec16/07)
Biodiversity - Divergent views on progress towards resource mobilization targets
Beijing, 22 December (Zhu Zhenyan and Chee Yoke Ling*) – With the biodiversity financing gap remaining huge, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) had divergent views on whether progress has been made to meet the targets set in 2012 for mobilizing financial resources.
The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the CBD was held on 4-17 December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico.
Parties reviewed the progress towards the resource mobilization targets agreed at COP 11 (Hyderabad, India) in 2012 and reaffirmed at COP 12 in 2014 (Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea). The Cancun meeting reviewed the adequacy of the targets, as well as considered the need for appropriate action based on the information provided by Parties through the Financial Reporting Framework, including their respective identified resource needs, and taking into account their absorption capacities.
COP 13 was tasked to review the following targets for resource mobilization in accordance with paragraph 1 of Decision XII/3 of COP 12:
(a) Double total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries, in particular Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition, using average annual biodiversity funding for the years 2006-2010 as a baseline, by 2015, and at least maintain this level until 2020;
(b) Endeavour for 100%, but at least 75%, of Parties to have included biodiversity in their national priorities or development plans by 2015 and have therefore made appropriate domestic financial provisions;
(c) Endeavour for 100%, but at least 75%, of Parties provided with adequate financial resources to have reported domestic biodiversity expenditures, as well as funding needs, gaps and priorities, by 2015, in order to improve the robustness of the baseline;
(d) Endeavour for 100%, but at least 75%, of Parties provided with adequate financial resources to have prepared national financial plans for biodiversity by 2015, and that 30% of those Parties have assessed and/or evaluated the intrinsic, ecological, genetic, socio-economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic values of biological diversity and its components;
(e) Mobilize domestic financial resources from all sources to reduce the gap between identified needs and available resources at the domestic level, for effectively implementing by 2020 Parties’ National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans, in accordance with Article 20 (of the CBD).
In addition, paragraph 2 of the same decision states that, recalling Article 20 of the Convention, the targets in sub-paragraphs (a) to (e) above are to be considered as mutually supportive.
From “provision of new and additional financial resources” to “mobilization of financial resources”
Agreement on the above targets was only reached after several years of difficult negotiations, with developing countries seeking concrete numerical targets and developed countries resisting such a step forward. Under Article 20 of the CBD that entered into force in 1993, developed countries committed to providing new and additional financial resources to developing countries for the full incremental cost of implementing the CBD.
Over the years, with no significant increase in biodiversity financing, developing countries grew more and more concerned that developed countries were retreating from their commitment, especially as COP decisions shifted the emphasis to “mobilization of financial resources” instead of “provision” of resources. Developed country Parties wanted to include financial resources from “all sources” which would include also South-South cooperation, the private sector, foundations, non-governmental organizations and academia. Focus also emerged on developing countries “mobilizing domestic resources”.
This was evident in the 2010 COP 10 negotiations in Nagoya (Japan) which adopted the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets, but failed to reach financial targets due to objections from developed countries.
The compromise was Aichi Target 20 that states: "By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels. This target will be subject to changes contingent to resource needs assessments to be developed and reported by Parties."
The substantial gap between the investments needed to deliver biodiversity targets and the resources allocated was presented to Parties at COP 11 in 2012 when it was estimated that the levels of global funding for biodiversity at that time was between USD 51 and 53 billion annually, compared to the estimated needs of USD 300 to 400 billion annually. Following intense negotiations COP 11 adopted the four targets (a) to (d) above.
However, at COP 12 in 2014, some developed countries again tried to backtrack again. After long drawn negotiations that ended at the ministerial level on 15-16 October 2014, Parties finally affirmed the four targets adopted in COP 11. Accordingly, COP 12 in paragraph 1 of the decision on “Resource Mobilization” “reaffirmed its commitment to an overall substantial increase in total biodiversity related funding for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 from a variety of sources” (the wording of the COP 11 decision). The specific targets then followed.
In addition, a financial reporting framework template was adopted for all Parties to use to submit information on resource mobilization.
(For more information on the negotiation history see: “Finance targets reaffirmed, concrete flows questionable” http://twn.my/title2/biotk/2014/btk141009.htm.)
On 7 December 2016, at the plenary of the COP 13 Working Group I, Parties made statements on this agenda item and also submitted their written proposals with regard to the draft decision. The contact group of this item was established on 7 December. At the meeting of the ‘Friends of Chair’ on the same day, Parties were invited to elaborate on their textual proposals. In the following days, a number of meetings of contact group were convened to go through the text of the draft decision and a few small group consultations were conducted as well when some divergent views occurred among a few Parties.
Before COP 13 was convened, the CBD Executive Secretary produced the “Analysis of the Information Provided through the Financial Reporting Frameworks and of Methodological Information and Definitions” as provided by Parties (UNEP/CBD/COP/13/11/Rev1). According to this analysis, a very limited number of Parties had submitted their financial reporting frameworks.
As of 15 November 2016, 66 Parties had made submissions. Out of these, 28 Parties are the European Union (EU) member states and 22 Parties are members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of OECD. Only 28 Parties provided information on the amount of resources they provided in support of biodiversity in developing countries.
If taking the baseline information provided by a country as its individual commitment towards attaining target 1(a) of Decision XII/3, namely, to double total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries, the Analysis concluded that, “it would seem to be possible, in principle, to use the date to define an aggregated quotient which indicates where Parties collectively stand at this point of time in achieving target 1(a).”
A total of 6 countries reporting 2015 data have individually met target 1(a) to double international flows, namely, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Latvia and Norway, while China reported on funds provided in the context of South-South cooperation.
In this regard, at the plenary of Working Group I, Bolivia in its intervention critically questioned the logic with which this conclusion is reached. Of 28 reporting cases (27 countries and the EU with its 28 member states), only 9 countries and the EU have submitted information by 2015, of which only 6 of 55 countries (as of 9 September 2016) have individually doubled their target, including China, “is this meeting the target of doubling financial resources?” Bolivia asked. Furthermore, Bolivia presented its calculation that indicated there is still a big financial gap. It referred to Article 20 of the CBD and stressed that this article has a clear direction for provision of financing from developed countries to developing countries.
In this context, Bolivia proposed a number of paragraphs for the draft decision.
For the preamble, Bolivia proposed that the COP should recognize the need to bridge the financial gap between the goals of developing country Parties to achieve the Aichi targets and the provision of new, additional, predictable and adequate financial resources by developed countries.
However, this proposed text was opposed by developed countries. In particular, Switzerland said the gap exists and all Parties reported gaps but resource mobilization is to mobilize resources for biodiversity, not for developing countries.
[The negotiation history and a reading of the COP 11 decision in its entirety shows that the financial flows are from developed to developing countries even though the text in target 1(a) does not explicitly state this.]
Bolivia’s proposed paragraph was then divided into the following paragraphs as a compromise:
“Recognizing the impact of the financial gap on Parties progress in achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,
Recalling decision XII/3, in particular the targets referred to in paragraphs 1(a) to (c) and 2.”
In the operational paragraphs on financial reporting, the major contention among Parties was whether the above target 1(a) has been fulfilled, and how progress has been made by reporting Parties in achieving the targets.
In Bolivia’s proposed paragraph, it wanted the COP to take note of the difficulties and flaws in the consolidation of the information regarding the financial flows from developed to developing countries, and of the global non-fulfillment of target 1(a) of decision XII/3 to duplicate the amount of financial resources to developing countries, using average funding for the years 2006-2010 as a baseline by 2015, and at least maintain this level until 2020, in accordance with Article 20 of the Convention.
Bolivia was of the view that this is the context of the reporting, while the report from the CBD Executive Secretary did not differentiate the financial flows in this regard. Bolivia was supported by the Philippines. However, developed countries opposed this. Switzerland said Article 20 of the Convention is not about financial reporting and Canada took the view that provision of significant financial resources had happened and they do not want the continued reference to Article 20.
Furthermore, the EU wanted Parties to take note with appreciation of the significant progress made by reporting Parties in achieving targets 1(a) and 1(b) of decision XII/3, while developing countries, particularly Bolivia, did not think significant progress had been made by reporting Parties in achieving those targets, as it had highlighted in its intervention at the plenary.
As there was no agreement in the room and Parties debated the language of the text, and given that Parties could not conclude whether target 1(a) has been achieved, China tabled a neutral paragraph that absorbed the divergence among Parties: “[The COP] takes note with concern of insufficient information gathered from the financial reporting frameworks submitted by Parties which limits the basis for a comprehensive assessment towards achieving the targets.”
Parties found this generally acceptable. After exchange of views on revising the language, the final text on this issue was agreed to as follows:
2. Takes note of the analysis of the information provided by Parties through the financial reporting framework, in particular the progress towards the targets adopted in decision XII/3, and the need to assess the financial resources provision in further detail, in line with the financial reporting framework and in the context of Article 20;
3. Takes note with concern of the insufficient information gathered from the financial reporting frameworks submitted by Parties, which limits the basis for a comprehensive assessment of progress towards achieving the targets, bearing in mind that the targets are to be considered mutually supportive, and, in this context, takes note:
(a) Of the progress made by reporting Parties in achieving targets 1 (a), 1 (b) and 1 (c) of decision XII/3, as well as in reporting on their assessment and/or evaluations of the intrinsic, ecological, genetic, socioeconomic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic values of biological diversity and its components, pursuant to target 1 (d);
(b) Of the limited progress made by reporting Parties in reporting their funding needs, gaps and priorities, pursuant to target 1 (c), and in reporting their national finance plans, pursuant to target 1 (d);
4. Emphasizes that limited progress in achieving targets 1 (c) and 1 (d) could negatively affect assessment of progress towards achieving target 1 (e) and 1 (a).”
The Philippines, at the first meeting of the contact group, stressed that there is a need to remind developed country Parties to double the biodiversity-related international financial resource flow, and afterwards tabled a proposal that the COP should urge developed country Parties to make sure that international resource flows will double within 2020.
China supported the specification of developed countries when talking about financial flows, but developed countries, particularly the EU was unhappy with the language. After some exchange of views, Parties agreed on compromise text with the consistent terminology, which was acceptable to developing countries:
“5. Urges Parties to increase their efforts to achieve the targets, including the doubling of total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries, in particular least developed countries and small island developing States as well as countries with economies in transition, as stated in target 1(a), bearing in mind that the targets are considered to be mutually supportive.”
In addition to the above, the EU proposed the COP to request the Executive Secretary to prepare an updated analysis of financial reports received to provide a more comprehensive picture on the global overall progress towards the global targets for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Implementation at its second meeting in 2018.
On the other hand, Bolivia, intending to replace the EU’s proposal, proposed to develop a stock take on finance at COP 14 for the assessment of the effectiveness and adequacy of the provision of support for developing countries’ needs and priorities according to Article 20.2 of the Convention. In the meeting of the contact group, Bolivia explained that this stocktaking is to analyze the information, have an in-depth evaluation and take action in the future.
As Parties considered that the objective of the two proposals were the same and just procedurally different, they agreed to combine the two proposals rather than one replacing the other. After a small group consultation, Parties agreed to the following text on this matter:
“8. Requests the Executive Secretary to prepare a stock take and an updated analysis of financial reports received in order to provide a more comprehensive picture on the global overall progress towards the global targets, including an analysis of differences across methodological approaches, for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Implementation at its second meeting, in order to submit recommendations to the Conference of the Parties at its fourteenth meeting.”
Parties also agreed on the text of other parts of the ‘non-paper’ on this item and the non-paper was then converted to a Conference Room Paper (CRP 30). The CRP 30 was adopted by Parties in the plenary of Working Group I on 15 December and accordingly converted to document UNEP/CBD/COP/13/L.27 that was adopted by the plenary of the COP.
(* With contributions from Antje Lorch.)