African Activists Call on the West to Finance Climate Action

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Climate Change Finance

Activists at Bonn accuse developed countries of frustrating the process on climate finance. Pictured here are Danni Taaffe, Head of Communications at Climate Action Network (CAN), Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa and Sven Harmeling, Head of Climate at CAN. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

Activists at Bonn accuse developed countries of frustrating the process on climate finance. Pictured here are Danni Taaffe, Head of Communications at Climate Action Network (CAN), Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa and Sven Harmeling, Head of Climate at CAN. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

BONN, Jun 13 2024 (IPS) – As the technical session of the global climate negotiations enters the final stretch in Bonn, Germany, climate activists from Africa have expressed fears that negotiators from the developed world are dragging their feet in a way to avoid paying their fair share to tackle the climate crisis.

“I think we will be unfair to the snail if we say that the Bonn talks have all along moved at a snail pace,” quipped Mohammed Adow, the Director, Power Shift Africa.

“Ideally, there will be no climate action anywhere without climate finance. Yet what we have seen is that developed countries are frustrating the process, blocking the UAE annual dialogues, which were agreed upon last year in Dubai, to focus on the delivery of finance so as to give confidence to developing countries to implement climate actions,” said Adow.

According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dialogue was created to focus on climate finance in relation to implementing the first Global Stoke Take (GST-1) outcomes, with the rationale of serving as a follow up mechanism dedicated to climate finance, ensuring response to and/or monitoring of, as may be appropriate and necessary, all climate finance items under the GST

The two-week Bonn technical session of Subsidiary Bodies (SB60) was expected to develop an infrastructure for the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG), a climate change funding mechanism to raise the floor of climate finance for developing countries above the current $100 billion annual target.

In 2009, during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, developed countries agreed that by 2020, they would collectively mobilize $100 billion per year to support priorities for developing countries in terms of adaptation to climate crisis, loss and damage, just energy transition and climate change mitigation.

When parties endorsed the Paris Agreement at COP 21 in 2015, they found it wise to set up the NCQG, which has to be implemented at the forthcoming COP 29, whose agenda has to be set at the SB60 in Bonn, providing scientific and technological advice, thereby shaping negotiations in Azerbaijan.

However, activists feel that the agenda being set in Bonn is likely to undermine key outcomes of previous negotiations, especially on climate finance.

“We came to Bonn with renewed hope that the NCQG discussions will be honest and frank with all parties committed to seeing that the finance mechanism will be based on the priorities and needs of developing countries and support country-driven strategies, with a focus on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs),” said Memory Zonde-Kachambwa, the Executive Director, FEMNET.

“Seeing the devastation climate change is causing in our countries in terms of floods, storms, and droughts, among other calamities, it was our hope that the rich countries would be eager and willing to indicate the Quantum as per Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement so as to allow developing countries to plan their climate action,” she said.

So far, negotiators from the North have been pushing for collective “mobilization of financial resources,” which African activists believe is merely the privatization of climate finance within NCQG, thus surrendering poor countries to climate-debt speculators and further impoverishing countries clutching onto debt.

Also in the spotlight was the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), where the activists feel that the means of implementation is being vehemently fought by the parties from developed countries.

“Adaptation must be funded from public resources and must not be seen as a business opportunity open to private sector players,” said Dr. Augustine Njamnshi, an environmental policy and governance law expert and the Executive Secretary of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access. “Without clear indications on the means of implementation, GGA is an empty shell and it is not fit-for-purpose.”

According to Ambassador Ali Mohammed, the incoming Chair for the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), the SB60 is an opportunity to rebuild trust in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

“That trust can only be rebuilt if we come out of Bonn with a quantum that adequately covers the needs of the continent,” he said, noting that the figure Africa is asking for, which is to be part of the agenda for COP29, is USD 1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Biodiversity Meetings in Nairobi End, All Eyes Are Now on COP16

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A banner demanding an end to harmful subsidies is on display on the last day of the SBI meeting in Nairobi. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

A banner demanding an end to harmful subsidies is on display on the last day of the SBI meeting in Nairobi. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

NAIROBI, Jun 3 2024 (IPS) – Regions struggling to revise and update their National Biodiversity Plans aligning them with the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at COP15, will now be given the technical and scientific support to develop and submit their plans on time.

This was one of the key decisions of the 4th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI)—the crucial pre-COP meetings of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD)—to review the status and challenges of implementing the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which started on May 22 and ended in Nairobi late in the evening of May 29, 2024.

More than 1000 participants from 143 countries gathered for the nine-day meeting, which UNCBD referred to as one of the “largest SBI meetings ever,” to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to the timely implementation of the GBF. As the meeting ended, the participants came up with a list of recommendations that will be presented for nations to consider at the next Biodiversity COP (COP16), scheduled to be held in October in Cali, Colombia.

IPS provided coverage of the twin meetings of SBI and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advisors (SBSTTA), which took place earlier on May 13–18.  In this article, we bring you the key issues that topped the agenda of the SBI and the biggest recommendations that were made.

National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans

In December 2022, at the COP15, parties agreed to revise and update their national biodiversity plans (NBSAP), aligning the targets with the global biodiversity framework that was adopted at the COP. These updated plans are to be submitted to UNCBD by or before the next COP, scheduled to be held in October.

However, as earlier reported by IPS, despite being just five months away from the next COP, only 11 countries have submitted their NBSAPs, while the majority of the countries have not, citing various reasons, including a lack of capacity and resources.

The top agenda item of the SBI has been reviewing these reasons and recommending steps that can help countries close this gap and complete the task of submitting their plans on time.

David Cooper, acting Executive Director of UN Biodiversity and Chirra Achalendar Reddy, chair of SBI-4, address the press conference. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

David Cooper, acting Executive Director of UN Biodiversity and Chirra Achalendar Reddy, chair of SBI-4, address the press conference. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Capacity Building

After the nine-day discussions, delegates at the SBI decided that it would be necessary to provide all countries with specific technical and scientific support that can help them develop their NBSAPs and submit them on time. To provide this support, SBI decided that a network of technical and scientific support centers would be set up at regional and sub-regional level.

According to Chirra Achalender Reddy, Secretary, National Biodiversity Authority, India, and the chair of the SBI-4 meeting, the recommendation to set up these support centers was one of the key decisions made at the meeting.

“I thank the parties for their commitment to implementation of the Convention, as demonstrated by their engagement during the negotiations this week.  While we have many issues to resolve at COP16, the foundation is laid for our discussions in Cali, Colombia, later this year,” said Reddy.

Elaborating further on the decision, David Cooper, Acting Executive Director of the UNCBD, said that 18 regional organizations have been selected worldwide as the support centers. “They will foster and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation as countries harness science, technology and innovation to help halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.”

Cooper also expressed hope that, in the future, these 18 organizations could create more such support centers, expanding the network from regional and sub-regional to national level.

“These subregional support centers will also promote technology transfer among countries, including through joint research programs and joint technology development ventures, acting as “one-stop service centers” offering wide-ranging resources to help meet Biodiversity Plan targets.  The centers are expected to help expand, scale up, and accelerate efforts such as the existing Bio-Bridge initiative,” Cooper added.

Resource Mobilization

In the Global Biodiversity Framework, the financial ambitions set out include investing USD 200 billion a year from both public and private sources until 2030. In addition, the goal also includes saving another USD 500 billion by ending subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity yet are still practiced by countries. This will bring the total available finance for biodiversity conservation to USD 700 billion per year until 2030, the deadline to achieve all GBF targets.

At the SBI, there was an intense discussion on resource mobilization. Several countries complained that, despite being signatories to the GBF, they had not been able to access any resources meant for biodiversity conservation, especially the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF), which was launched last year and is managed by the Global Environment Facility.

Delegates from Syria, who spearheaded this discussion, revealed that their country had not been able to receive any money and suggested that the final document prepared by the CBD Secretariat reflect this. Syria’s voice was amplified by Russia, which said that Syria’s inability to access resources should be interpreted as a denial of resources.

Almost all the governments also discussed their own parameters for national biodiversity finance plans, the role of multilateral development banks, existing UN initiatives, and private finance.

An important discussion that took place was about setting up a new Global Biodiversity Fund, separate from the current Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF).

Women4Biodiversity, a group of women-led NGOs and gender champions, launched a training module on how to mainstream gender at the Global Biodiversity Framework meeting. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Women4Biodiversity, a group of women-led NGOs and gender champions, launched a training module on how to mainstream gender at the Global Biodiversity Framework meeting. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Gender and Indigenous Peoples

One of the most interesting developments that took place on the sidelines of the SBI meeting was the launch of a training module by Women4Biodiversity, a group that advocates for gender mainstreaming across all 23 targets of the GBF and participates in the meetings as an observer.

Titled “Training Module on Advancing Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the Implementation of the Kunming Montreal-Global Biodiversity Framework,” the document was prepared in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Speaking to the press about the training module, Alejandra Duarte, Policy Associate at Women4Biodiversity, said the main objective of the publication was to serve as a source of information for decision-makers, negotiators, indigenous peoples and local communities, women, youth, civil society, businesses, and the whole of society who are engaged in the planning, monitoring, and implementation of the Biodiversity Plan.

Mrinalini Rai, Director of Women4Biodiversity, also explained that the module was created to be understood by all and customized as per the context, community, or country.

Supporting Rai’s comments, Cristina Eghenter, senior global governance policy expert at WWF, said, “I hope that the module will help understand the gaps and what needs to be done for women to be a part of the Biodiversity Plan.”

Rodah Rotino, an indigenous community leader and President of the Pastoral Communities Empowerment Programme (PACEP), a Kenya-based women-led NGO, highlighted the contribution of indigenous women to biodiversity conservation across the world, including Africa.

“In my community, we have started a seed bank that preserves indigenous tree seeds. We plant indigenous plants that help preserve and conserve the local biodiversity and help community members benefit from their many uses, as they have done for centuries,” Rotino said, citing the example of her own community in West Pokot County, where women have started several initiatives. “We even promote the use of our traditional food systems, including the use of traditional indigenous crops, fruits, and vegetables, and we are seeing that after using these, our people, especially women and children, have many health improvements and quick recovery from some ailments. In short, we are going ahead with using our indigenous knowledge without even waiting for the formal implementation of the GBF.”

What’s Next

In Cali, Colombia, the CBD secretariat will present the decisions of the SBI-4 and the SBSTTA to the nations for their consideration and adoption.

However, just before the COP begins, yet another SBI meeting (SBI-5) will be held in Cali. The sole focus of that meeting will be to review the latest status of the national biodiversity plans and the plans that will be submitted between now and the COP.

“Right now, countries are in various stages of developing their NBSAPs and by October, we expect most of them to complete and make the submissions. The SBI-5 will review the plans and the status then,” Cooper explained.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Uniting for Climate Action: UN, World Bank and UNDRR Leaders Push for Climate Finance, Justice and Nature-Based Solutions for SIDS

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Climate Change Finance

Panelists at SDG Media Zone at SIDS4, Antigua and Barbuda. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

Panelists at SDG Media Zone at SIDS4, Antigua and Barbuda. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA, May 29 2024 (IPS) – As leaders of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) meet for the 4th International Conference on SIDS in Antigua this week, top United Nations and World Bank officials are calling for urgent action to help SIDS tackle their unique challenges and plan for the next decade.

Selwin Hart, UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General of the Climate Action Team, had a frank assessment for a United Nations SDG Media Zone event on the sidelines of the conference, known as SIDS4

“The international community has failed to deliver on its commitments to these small nations, but it’s not too late to make amends,” he said.

Hart says the world has the ‘tools, solutions, technologies, and finance’ to support SIDS, but change lies in the political will of  the countries with the greatest responsibility and capacity, particularly G20 nations, which account for almost 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“A mere USD 3 billion of the USD 100 billion goal has been mobilized annually for the small island developing state and you compare that to the USD 36 billion in profit that Exxon Mobil made last year. It represents a tenth of the climate finance that SIDS are attracting and mobilizing. We need to correct these injustices and that has to be at the root of the global response to the demands and needs of  small island developing states.”

Nature-Based Solutions for Nations on the Frontlines of Climate Change
“Both natural and man-made disasters hit SIDS first,” the World Bank’s Global Director of Environment, Natural Resources, and Blue Economy, Valerie Hickey, told the Media Zone. She said that for this reason, the international lending body describes SIDS as “where tomorrow happens today,” a nod to small islands’ role as ‘innovation incubators,’ who must adapt to climate change through the creative and sustainable use of natural capital, biodiversity, and nature-based solutions.

She says nature capital also shifts the narrative, focusing less on the vulnerabilities of SIDS and more on their ingenuity.

“We don’t talk enough about the fact that small islands are where natural capital is the engine of jobs and GDP,” she said. “It is fisheries. It is nature-based tourism. These are critically important for most of the small islands and ultimately deliver not just jobs and GDP but are going to be the only technology for adaptation that is available and affordable, and affordability matters for small islands.”

For small island states seeking to adapt to a changing climate, nature-based solutions and ecosystem based adaptation are essential, but it is also necessary to tackle perennial problems that hinder growth and access to finance. That includes a dearth of current, relevant data.

“The data is too fragmented. It’s sitting on people’s laptops. It’s sitting on people’s shelves. Nobody knows what’s out there and that’s true for the private sector and the public sector,” she said.

“In the Caribbean, where there is excess capital sitting in retail banks, USD 50 billion of that can be used to invest in nature-based solutions judiciously, to work on the kind of longer-term infrastructure that would be fit for purpose both for disaster recovery and long-term growth—it’s not happening for lack of data.”

As part of SIDS4, the world’s small island developing states appear to be tackling this decades-long data problem head-on. At the event’s opening session, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said a much-promoted Centre of Excellence will be established at this conference and that this Global Data Hub for Innovative Technologies and Investment for SIDS will use data for decision-making, ensuring that SIDS’ ten-year Antigua and Barbuda Agenda (ABAS) is led by ‘accuracy and timeliness.’

Reducing Disaster Risk and Early Warning Systems for All

A discussion on SIDS is not complete without acknowledging the disproportionate impact of disasters on the island nations. Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Kamal Kishore, says mortality rates and economic losses from disasters are significantly higher in SIDS than the global average.

“If you look at mortality from disasters, the number of deaths normalized by the population of the countries, the mortality rate in SIDS is twice that of the rest of the world. If you look at economic losses as a proportion of GDP, globally it is under one percent; in SIDS, in a single event, countries have lost 30 percent of their GDP. SIDS have lost up to two-thirds of their GDP in a single event.”

Kishore says the ambition to reduce disaster losses must match the scale of the problem. He says early warning systems are a must and have to be seen by all not as generosity but responsibility.

“It is not acceptable that anybody on planet Earth should not have access to advanced cyclone or hurricane warnings. We have the technical wherewithal to generate forecasts and warnings. We have technologies to disseminate it. We know what communities need to do and what local governments need to do in order to respond to those warnings. Why is it not happening?”

The Early Warning for All initiative was launched by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in 2022. Kishore says 30 countries have been identified in the initial stage and a third of those countries are SIDS. Gap analyses have already been conducted and a road map has been prepared for strengthening early warning systems. The organization needs money to make it happen.

“The world needs to show some generosity and pick up the bill. It’s not in billions. It’s in millions and it will pay for itself in a single event. You invest in early warning in a country and one major event happens in the next five years, you’ve recovered your investment. The evidence is there that it makes financial sense, but we need to mobilize resources to close that gap.”

The Road Ahead

Thirty years since the first International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the three leaders agree that there is hope, but that hope is hinged on action—an approach to development in SIDS that involves financial investment, comprehensive data collection and management and nature-based adaptation measures.

“It’s not too late,” says Selwin Hart. “What we need now is the political will to make things right for small island developing states.”

IPS UN Bureau Report


SBSTTA and SBI—Biodiversity Meetings Crucial for the Global South Begin

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More than 1,400 delegates are present at two crucial meetings, where the topic of preserving the planet’s ongoing biodiversity for the benefit of humanity is under discussion. Under the spotlight are the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, synthetic biology, the detection and identification of living modified organisms, and, critically, biodiversity and health.

Over 1,400 delegates, including 600 representing parties or signatories from over 150 countries and a significant delegation of Indigenous Peoples and other observer organizations, including women’s groups are attending two crucial biodiversity meetings in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Over 1,400 delegates, including 600 representing parties or signatories from over 150 countries and a significant delegation of Indigenous Peoples and other observer organizations, including women’s groups are attending two crucial biodiversity meetings in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

NAIROBI, May 14 2024 (IPS) – The 26th meeting of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advisors (SBSTTA) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) started in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday. Over 1,400 delegates, including 600 representing signatories or parties from over 150 countries, are present for the seven-day meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). A large number of members from Indigenous Peoples and other observer organizations, including women’s groups, are also attending the meetings.

SBSTTA will be followed by the meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), another subsidiary body of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The SBI will take place from May 20–29 at the same venue.

Opening the meeting on Monday morning, David Cooper, the Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, called on the delegates for a successful meeting.

“A key part of ensuring the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework is to monitor the progress and that’s why finalizing a monitoring framework includes authenticators for the parties to report on. I would like to give my sincere appreciation to all those working on putting together a comprehensive set of authenticators. I encourage you to make full use of what we have achieved so far and let’s make this meeting a success,” Cooper said.

IPS, which is exclusively covering the meetings, has insights into the meetings and presents here the brief history of both the meetings and their significance in larger global biodiversity protection, especially in the global south, including the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the legally binding international biodiversity treaty adopted by the nations in December 2022

SBSTTA: History, Mandate and Role in the COP

SBSTTA was established 30 years ago, in 1994, as a subsidiary body of the CBD during the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD in Nassau, Bahamas. Article 25 of the CBD, which mandated its creation, tasked it with giving the COP timely advice regarding the application of the Convention.

Since then, SBSTTA ‘s main role has been providing assessments of scientific, technical, and technological information relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It typically meets once or twice a year to review and assess relevant scientific information, including reports submitted by Parties, relevant organizations, and stakeholders. Its discussions cover a wide range of topics, including biodiversity loss, ecosystem services, invasive species, genetic resources, and biotechnology.

The main output of SBSTTA meetings is a set of recommendations to the COP, which are based on the scientific and technical assessments conducted during its sessions. These recommendations provide guidance to Parties and other stakeholders on key issues related to the implementation of the CBD.

For example, in 2007, SBSTTA recommended that the biodiversity COP consider the potential impacts of synthetic biology on biodiversity and ecosystems and encourage Parties to undertake further research, risk assessments, and regulatory measures to address any potential risks associated with the release of synthetic organisms into the environment.

This recommendation was later taken up by the CBD COP, leading to the adoption of decisions on synthetic biology, including Decision XIII/17, which encouraged Parties to continue their efforts to address the potential positive and negative impacts of synthetic biology on biodiversity, and take a  precautionary approach.

A more recent example is the SBSTTA’s recommendation from 2018 that the COP should encourage Parties to mainstream biodiversity considerations into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, plans, and programs, including those pertaining to agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, energy, and infrastructure.

The CBD COP later agreed with this suggestion, which led to the adoption of decisions and guidelines on mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors. One of these was Decision XIV/4, which asked Parties to do more to mainstream biodiversity into relevant sectors and to encourage synergies between the goals of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.

SBSTTA and Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

SBSTTA-26 has a large number of issues on its agenda. Most prominent among them are: 1) creating a monitoring framework for the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework; 2) synthetic biology; 3) detection and identification of living modified organisms; and 4) biodiversity and health.

It is expected that under the detection and identification of living modified organisms, genetically engineered mosquitoes for Malaria prevention will be discussed. Research on genetically engineered mosquitoes for malaria control has been an area of interest and investigation for several years, although little information is available on it in the public domain.

Scientists in many countries, including in the United States and Brazil, have been exploring various genetic modification techniques to create mosquitoes that are resistant to the malaria parasite or are unable to transmit the disease. One approach involves genetically modifying mosquitoes to produce antibodies that neutralize the malaria parasite when it enters their bodies.

The other approach is to use “Gene Drive Technology,” which involves modifying mosquitoes in a way that ensures the modified genes are passed on to a high proportion of their offspring. Already, many field trials of genetically engineered mosquitoes have been conducted or are underway in different parts of the world, most notably those conducted by the company Oxitec in Brazil and the Cayman Islands.

At the SBSTTA, scientific and technical advisors will look closely at the important environmental and ethical considerations related to GE mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization’s 2023 World Malaria Report, there has been an increase in malaria infections all over the world as a result of climate change. However, several countries and organizations have serious reservations against the release of GM mosquitoes, which they believe may have an irreversible and devastating impact on local biodiversity. One of the most vocal organizations against GE/GM mosquitoes has been Friends of the Earth, a US-based environmental advocacy group. Dana Perls, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth, said, “Significant scientific research on genetically engineered mosquitoes is still needed to understand the potential public health and environmental threats associated with the release of this novel genetically engineered insect.”

The SBSTTA is expected to witness passionate discussions, especially from environmental NGOs and faith-based organizations, including the need to ensure that communities are properly informed and engaged in decision-making processes, especially in the global south.

The agenda for the meetings includes creating a monitoring framework for the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, synthetic biology, detection and identification of living modified organisms, and biodiversity and health. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

The agenda for the meetings includes creating a monitoring framework for the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, synthetic biology, detection and identification of living modified organisms, and biodiversity and health. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

SBI: Most Crucial Agenda Items

The SBI was established under the CBD during the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD in 1996. The SBI’s mandate includes providing guidance and recommendations to the COP on matters related to the implementation of the CBD as well as identifying obstacles and challenges that may hinder effective implementation.

Like SBSTTA, SBI also typically meets once or twice a year to conduct its work. Its discussions cover a wide range of topics related to the implementation of the CBD, including national biodiversity strategies and action plans, financial resources and mechanisms, capacity-building, and technology transfer.

Chaired by Chirra Achalender Reddy of India, the SBI in Nairobi has placed several items on its agenda. However, the most crucial ones among them are: 1) resource mobilization and financial mechanisms; 2) a review of the progress in national target setting; and 3) the updating of national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

As IPS recently reported, only a handful of countries have so far been able to submit their updated biodiversity action plans, while the rest are said to be facing multiple challenges in doing so, including a lack of capacity. In fact, Kenya, the host country of these meetings, has not been able to submit their updated action plan yet.

On Monday, in her inaugural address during the opening ceremony of SBSTTA, Ingrid Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP, acknowledged that a lack of capacity to revise and update their action plans has been reported by several member states. “Capacity building is a serious issue and at the SBSTTA and SBI, this will be seriously discussed,” Andersen said.

David Ainsworth, the Communications Director of UNCBD, said that the capacity is lacking in several areas, including communications (where countries do not know how to communicate to different ministries the need for working together to develop their biodiversity action plans), finance (lack of funding, budgetary constraints), and knowledge.

“Perhaps the most crucial of these is finance and this will be seriously discussed at the SBI,” Ainsworth said.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Inclusivity, Impact, and Innovation Needed to Meet SDGs, UN Civil Society Conference Hears

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Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Office at Nairobi is hosting the 2024 United Nations Civil Society Conference on May 9 and 10, under the theme Shaping a Future of Global and Sustainable Progress. Credit: Joyce Chimbi/IPS

The United Nations Office at Nairobi is hosting the 2024 United Nations Civil Society Conference on May 9 and 10, under the theme Shaping a Future of Global and Sustainable Progress. Credit: Joyce Chimbi/IPS

NAIROBI, May 9 2024 (IPS) – The world is neither on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) nor is it leveraging emerging opportunities to effectively address global concerns such as extreme hunger, poverty, conflict, and climate change. Global concerns have outpaced existing structures for international cooperation and coping.

To forge a global perspective, the United Nations Office in Nairobi is currently hosting the 2024 United Nations Civil Society Conference under the theme Shaping a Future of Global and Sustainable Progress. Bringing together more than 2,000 participants from civil society organizations, academic institutions, think tanks, member states, private sector companies, UN entities, change-makers, and other relevant stakeholders from across the globe.

“That civil society engagement remains a critical cog in the wheel of development is well established. Greater collaboration between civil society organizations, governments, and the private sector can therefore not be more urgent at this time as we gear up for the Summit of the Future,” says Carole Ageng’o, Global Initiatives Lead & Africa Regional Representative at HelpAge International.

Indeed, civil society participation will contribute greatly towards meeting the aspiration of an international system that is better prepared to manage the challenges we face now and, in the future, for the sake of all humanity and for future generations.”

Since 1947, sixty-eight civil society conferences have resulted in successful outcomes due to previous interactions with civil society organizations. The ongoing conference is the premier event on the civil society calendar at the United Nations and the first of the UN’s civil society conferences to be held in Africa.

Born in Zimbabwe and currently working in South Africa as a human rights defender, Constance Mukarati told IPS that the role of civil society organizations and, more so, human rights defenders cannot be overstated towards ensuring that no one is left behind.

“For us, SDG 5 is really SDG 1. As a matter of urgency, women and girls everywhere must have equal rights and opportunities. We are still in an era where girl child education is not a priority and a gathering such as this is an opportunity for a revolution in how we think about issues of national and global concern, how we talk about these issues, who is in the room and how we execute and implement commitments towards sustainable development,” says Mukarati from the African Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders.

The ongoing gathering of civil society and other stakeholders is on track to provide preliminary discussions and data ahead of the world’s leaders’ Summit of the Future on September 22–23, 2024, at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Summit is part of a monumental effort to reset global cooperation towards accelerating efforts to meet our existing international commitments and take concrete steps to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities.

Ultimately, the Summit of the Future is about rethinking what multilateralism means in a world characterized by plummeting levels of trust in public institutions, glaring wealth inequalities, and a majority of the world’s population in underdeveloped and developing nations being left furthest behind, falling deeper into extreme hunger and poverty. To address global concerns, the Summit will produce three international frameworks: the Pact for the Future (available as a zero draft), the Global Digital Compact, and the Declaration on Future Generations.

“It is highly urgent that the UN systems relook and redesign how they engage its global citizenry so that the citizens can in turn engage the UN more effectively. This is what is needed to bring the SDGs back on track. What are people saying about the multiple challenges they face today? There is a feeling within the civil society movement that governments’ voices are prioritized within the UN system. This engagement is unique and highly relevant for our voices as activists and human rights defenders, which will inform and influence the direction that the Summit of the Future takes,” Eric Omondi, a Nairobi-based activist, told IPS.

This is a historic gathering aimed at galvanizing collaboration and reinforcing civil society organizations engagement in sustainable development. “We recognize that our generation stands at a critical junction where every action we take can significantly shape the future of our shared planet,” said Florence Syevuo, Executive Director, SDG Kenya Forum, and Co-Chair, Coalition for the UN We Need, Nairobi.

She stressed that the need to recognize the urgency of addressing global concerns such as climate change has never been more tangible as the effects of human interactions with nature become even more evident, underpinning why the outcome of the conference matters to all.

The Civil Society Conference and the Summit of the Future are critical platforms for deepening the engagement of citizens in international cooperation. As a prelude to the Summit of the Future, the Civil Society Conference features in-depth dialogues, a variety of workshops, and exhibits centered on three main objectives: inclusivity, impact, and innovation.

Inclusivity helps broaden the scope of discourse on global issues by enhancing the visibility and impact of diverse voices. On impact, participants are shaping global multi-stakeholder coalitions to advocate for and push the key issues that will be the outcome of the September Summit of the Future. On innovation, the two-day gathering is redefining the interaction between civil society and intergovernmental processes, showcasing a new model of collaboration that spans generations and sectors.

“The inclusion of youths and young voices in the SDG processes and other related commitments must become a priority. I recently completed my studies in law at Kampala International University and I intend to use my legal knowledge to amplify the most pressing problems facing young people in the global south and the communities in which they live,” Kiconco Shallom Esther, a youth participant from Uganda, told IPS.

As the curtain fell on the first day of the landmark civil society conference, there was consensus around the need to promote civil society’s insights and initiatives to bolster the Member State-led Summit of the Future process. Further emphasizing that a reinvigorated, organized civil society group can more effectively hold governments and powers accountable for progress towards a just, fair, and equitable shared future.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Lao PDR Lawmakers Meet to Further ICPD25 Programme of Action

Conferences, Development & Aid, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Headlines, Population, Sustainable Development Goals


Delegates at the workshop on Harnessing Demographic Dividend through the Roadmap to 2030 for Lao PDR. Credit: APDA

Delegates at the workshop on Harnessing Demographic Dividend through the Roadmap to 2030 for Lao PDR. Credit: APDA

VIENTIANE, Apr 29 2024 (IPS) – A recent workshop of lawmakers heard that targeted interventions would be necessary to meet the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), its Programme of Action (PoA), and Lao PDR’s national commitments to ICPD25 at the Nairobi Summit 2019.

The Workshop on Harnessing Demographic Dividend through the Roadmap to 2030 for Lao PDR aimed to equip parliamentarians with the knowledge and strategies necessary to address the critical population and development challenges confronting Lao PDR.

Thoummaly Vongphachanh, MP and Chair of Social and Cultural Affairs Committees, National Assembly, told the workshop in her opening address that collective action was important for tackling population and development challenges.

Edcel Lagman, MP Philippines and acting Chair of AFPPD, addressed the ICPD’s emphasis on individual rights, gender equality, and the correlation between development and women’s empowerment. With this in mind, he urged parliamentarians to enact rights-based policies that promote gender equality and social justice, incorporating population dynamics into development planning.

UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR, Dr Bakhtiyor Kadyrov, reiterated the organization’s commitment to supporting parliamentarians and government initiatives in addressing population and development challenges, emphasizing the importance of inclusive policies and partnerships to ensure no one is left behind.

A representative of DoP/MPI, Kaluna Nanthavongduangsy, provided an overall overview of the ICPD and its POA, along with Lao PDR’s national commitments to ICPD25, at the Nairobi Summit 2019. He said its commitment was based on five pillars.

  • Managing and using demographic benefits and investing in youth.
  • Addressing climate change and its impact on the public sector and social protection.
  • Promoting health and well-being, including rights to sexual and reproductive health.
  • Enhancing the availability and use of demographic information.
  • Strengthening partnerships and mobilizing resources.

Latdavanh Songvilay, Director General of the Macroeconomic Research Institute, Lao Academy of Social and Economic Sciences, outlined various challenges hindering the realization of the demographic dividend in Lao PDR. These challenges may include barriers to education and employment, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and socio-cultural factors impacting women’s empowerment and reproductive health.

Her presentation offered valuable insights into the complex interplay between demographic changes, socio-economic development, and policy formulation in Lao PDR. By identifying opportunities and addressing challenges, her analysis was crucial for the parliamentarians to make informed decisions and identify targeted interventions that could maximize the benefits of the demographic transition.

The Lao’s Family Welfare Promotion Association’s Executive Director, Dr Souphon Sayavong, emphasized the importance of comprehensive approaches that combine legal frameworks, law enforcement, survivor support services, and community engagement to combat SGBV effectively.

He also noted that harmful practices, such as child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence, needed targeted interventions to raise awareness, provide support to survivors, and change social norms that perpetuate harmful practices.

Sayavong also said that there were socio-economic consequences of gender inequality and SGBV, emphasizing their detrimental effects on individual well-being, community development, and national progress.

Dr Mayfong Mayxay, Member of Parliament and Vice-Rector of the University of Health Sciences, Ministry of Health, Lao PDR, said it was crucial to identify and tackle the various problems encountered by young people, including drug addiction, school dropout, early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy.

He said additional issues like substance abuse, smoking, and alcohol consumption needed targeted interventions, including prevention programmes and awareness campaigns. School dropout issues were often socioeconomic, so it was important to find strategies including scholarships, vocational training opportunities, and community-based support systems to ensure that young people can access education and pursue their aspirations.

During his presentation, he highlighted the risks associated with early marriage and adolescent pregnancies, which pose significant health risks for both mothers and children.

Mayxay emphasized the importance of comprehensive sexual education, access to reproductive health services, and legal reforms to address these issues and protect the rights of young girls.

He underscored the importance of promoting maternal and child health, including the need for nutritional education, prenatal care services, and support systems to address malnutrition and its adverse effects on maternal and child health outcomes.

Solutions he suggested involved holistic approaches encompassing education, healthcare, community support, and policy reforms, to empower young people and ensure their health and well-being.

Dr Usmonov Farrukh, interim Executive Director of AFPPD, reiterated AFPPD’s commitment to supporting parliamentarians’ advocacy on population and development in the Asia-Pacific in his closing speech, emphasizing collective action and partnership.

Vongphachanh’s closing remarks summed up the priorities agreed to in the meeting of the 14 National Commitments at the first National Conference on Population and Development, Demographic Change, held in 2023. She said opportunities, challenges, and policy levers to achieve demographic dividends, women’s empowerment and prevention and response to GBV and harmful practices, commitment to their programme of Family Planning 2030, and the health and future of the young population, particularly the resolutions for social issues they are facing such as drug use, school dropout, early marriage, and adolescent pregnancy, were crucial.

Note: This workshop was supported by AFPPD and APDA, the UNFPA, and the Japan Trust Fund.