The post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) is inarguably the most important piece of global biodiversity legislation in over a decade. Yet developing this agreement, and trying to garner more success than its predecessor (the Aichi targets, none of which were achieved based on their original definition) was a challenging task, exacerbated by a global pandemic, which hindered communications and by removing personal human interaction the ability to make the necessary compromises to move forwards. As a consequence, even after an additional two years of discussion, the final meeting to decide on the post-2020 framework started with only 20% of text and two targets agreed on. Within this paper we detail the journey from Sharm El Sheikh (with its Sharm El Sheikh to Kunming pathway and the hundreds of commitments made by organisations and countries to build momentum for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework), and discuss the formulation of the framework, what it missed, and what, given what was agreed, can be done to maximise the successful implementation of the GBF.
Importantly, the GBF is not a standalone framework, but was adopted with five supplementary annexes as a package to maximise its effectiveness, and to better detail key elements alongside the framework. The GBF itself has four major goals, supported by 23 targets and 10 subtargets, all of which reflect different facets of human interactions with the environment, and aim to provide practicable mechanisms to reconcile unsustainable use and interactions, and to enable effective interventions with measurable and quantifiable success.
Within the context of GEO BON understanding what can be measured and how is of course key, and thus the work of GEO BON is especially important within the context of the monitoring framework. The monitoring framework aims to assist the implementation of the GBF through providing the key data to measure success. As such a series of headline indicators has been developed based on a few criteria: must rely on either published literature or accessible data, be relevant across scales, and be possible to monitor. This includes headline indicators, which are supported by component indicators, and in turn by complementary indicators; which in sum chart progress toward each goal and target within the GBF.
However, any agreement of this scale involves compromise, and these compromises inevitably came at all levels of agreements. Within the monitoring framework, fears around the complexity of measuring certain parameters meant that selected indicators removed those that were harder to measure or interpret; many of which revolved around environmental resilience or restoration. The final indicators selected as headline indicators may be insufficient to adequately chart progress towards targets in the GBF, meaning that an array of the component and complementary indicators will inevitably be used by different countries; challenging our ability to understand biodiversity trends across extended scales.
There are many challenges to the successful implementation of many targets within the GBF, and whilst we could all suggest improvements; we now have a mandate to try to take us to a better 2030 and beyond. Reaching success will rely on cooperation across scales, sectors and societies, but it will also require further funding, and new mechanisms to target and implement that funding. Success will also require mainstreaming, engagement across sectors (especially finance and business), and across the environmental conventions, which must strive to maximise their complementarity and make the best use of existing resources. Ultimately, for the GBF to be successful, and overcome the many barriers (detailed further in the paper), it will require renewed efforts to develop NBSAPS and mobilise the data needed to chart progress, and enable targeted interventions to counterbalance the continued unsustainable use of biodiversity.
Read the paper here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/inc3.16
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