From Paris to Beijing. Insights gained from the UNFCCC Paris Agreement for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework

12-11-2018 | Publication

Negotiations have started on a new global framework for biodiversity. In 2020, in Beijing, a new international biodiversity framework will be agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This policy brief provides relevant insights for the CBD negotiations gained from an analysis of the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, it addresses the required cooperation between the UNFCCC and CBD.

Three elements of the Paris Agreement receive specific attention:

  • The shift in governance that took place in the UNFCCC between Copenhagen and Paris,  
  • The architecture of the Paris Agreement, and
  • The role of non-state actors within the climate regime.

 A new post-2020 biodiversity framework

In support of the negotiations on the new global biodiversity framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), this policy brief highlights several lessons learned and warnings gained from an analysis of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As countries have failed to realise most of the internationally agreed biodiversity goals and targets, and biodiversity loss is expected to continue, continuing the business-as-usual practices is not an option and rethinking biodiversity governance is needed. This policy brief presents certain ideas on these issues.

The paradigm shift in the climate regime

After the failed negotiations of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen, the international climate regime has undergone a paradigm shift, from a top-down regulatory model to a mainly bottom-up, facilitative model with some top-down elements. This four-year process resulted in the Paris Agreement, consisting of global goals, voluntary commitments and binding rules and regulations that furthermore facilitated the inclusion of non-state actors in the climate regime.

The architecture of the Paris Agreement

The major components of the Paris Agreement that could be considered for a post-2020 biodiversity framework include: quantitative long-term targets; a framework for voluntary commitments combined with procedural obligations; a clear accountability system; and mechanisms to involve non-state actors. Several elements to build on and achieve such changes are already in place in the CBD, such as the National Biodiversity Strategies and Actions Plans (NBSAPs) and national reporting, although a strong accountability mechanism is lacking.

The inclusion of non-state actors

The UNFCCC has supported the inclusion of non-state actors by introducing several elements, such as a registry for non-state actor commitments (NAZCA-portal), championing non-state action through high-level UN summits and appointing non-state ambassadors. For the CBD, the benefits of including non-state actors in the post-2020 framework process include engaging more and new actors in halting biodiversity loss, pushing countries to adopt more ambitious biodiversity goals, mainstreaming biodiversity in economic sectors and fostering innovative and experimental governance arrangements. The CBD may derive inspiration from several elements introduced in the UNFCCC Climate Action Agenda, while keeping in mind the challenges of a non-state action agenda in terms of, for example, monitoring commitments and progress levels.

Cooperation between CBD and UNFCCC

To ensure the implementation of both the Paris Agreement and the post-2020 biodiversity framework, close collaboration between the UNFCCC and the CBD is needed. While many would consider cooperation as a given, because of the close links between climate and biodiversity, the fragmented landscape of international environmental cooperation is currently not mutually supportive. Through closer collaboration, not only could both agendas have a positive impact on each other, they could also further support the achievement of other internationally agreed targets, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. Cooperation with other international conventions, such as the UNCCD and other biodiversity-related conventions, would also be helpful in this respect.

This is a policy brief by PBL, in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), IVM Institute for Environmental Studies (VU University Amsterdam) and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI).