Pacific partnerships at work in global Biodiversity negotiations


Pacific fellowship was at work during the global biodiversity negotiations, which have just ended.  The suite of inter-sessional meetings were held as part of the journey to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) to take place in Kunming, China in the third quarter of this year.

These inter-sessional events took place over a 15-day period in Geneva, Switzerland to continue negotiations for a Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to be endorsed at the CBD COP15.

Due to COVID-19, Pacific Island countries have not been able to attend the negotiations in person however Fiji and Samoa participated virtually.

Work is underway to ensure the Pacific voice contributes to the outcomes of these negotiations, which has been a challenge over these times.  Along with internet connectivity issues and time differences, there was also confusion with permitting virtual delegates the opportunity to speak.

Australia and Samoa worked together with SPREP to ensure the Pacific voice was heard, highlighting Pacific partnerships at work.

“Working collectively together to form a stronger Pacific voice, is part of our strategic plan that usually happens prior to the CBD COP15,” said Ms Amanda Wheatley, Biodiversity Advisor of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“COVID19 restrictions on travel, and the ongoing postponement of meetings has made this challenging, however we will be working with our Pacific island Parties to re-strengthen our strategic approach for a stronger Pacific voice at the CBD COP15.  Our Pacific voice must be heard.”

It was during the Third Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) that Samoa was not permitted to speak under the basis they were attending virtually. The SBI 3 was one of the three meetings to take place between 14 – 29 March.

Samoa was not permitted to take the floor despite other Parties taking the floor virtually just days before, yet it was with support from Australia who was attending in person, that Samoa was eventually able to speak.

The delegate from Australia took the floor three times, calling for the inclusion of the registered delegate from Samoa, which eventually resulted in permission for the Samoan delegate to speak virtually.

“The issue of capacity-building and development, technical and scientific cooperation and technology transfer is important to Samoa.  When this was being negotiated, we wanted the opportunity to have our voice heard,” said Ms Czarina Stowers, the delegate from Samoa.

Text was being proposed about developing new mechanisms for resource mobilisation, as well as upscaling the interim capacity building arrangement.  Samoa, as with other Parties, supported this new proposed text to remain in brackets until it could review the recommendations on the interim capacity building arrangement.

“We are grateful to our Australian colleague for taking that extra effort on the floor in Geneva, to ensure that we were heard.  COVID-19 has posted many challenges for us. We want to be engaged in the negotiations as our biodiversity is of great value to us in Samoa.  Our voice matters in these global negotiations for a new framework to halt biodiversity loss.”

The fourth meeting of working group will be held 21 – 26 June in Nairobi, Kenya before the adoption of the Framework at the CBD COP15 in Kunming, China.

The resumed sessions of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3), originally scheduled for 12-28 January 2022 were held from 14-29 March 2022, at the International Conference Center Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Parties were able to participate face to face, or virtually with varying levels of engagement dependent upon registration.