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SBSTTA26: Covering a quarter of Earth’s land, and cradles and refuges for wildlife, but mountains have insufficient focus in global biodiversity processes, and next-to-no investment

ICIMOD Senior Biodiversity Specialist Nakul Chettri is among 2,000 delegates from governments, observers, and civil society, […]
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Published: 16 May, 2024
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⏲ 3 minutes Read

ICIMOD Senior Biodiversity Specialist Nakul Chettri is among 2,000 delegates from governments, observers, and civil society, in Nairobi, Kenya, this week for the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA).

SBSTTA, as the official intergovernmental and multidisciplinary scientific advisory body to the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (COP), is the key meeting for the building of consensus and recommendations ahead of CBD COP which takes place every two years, and this year falls in October in Cali, Colombia.

At the last CBD COP, in 2022, parties made a historic agreement on biodiversity – the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

The GBF includes ambitious commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and sets out a pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050 via four goals and 23 targets.

It emphasises action‐ and results‐oriented implementation by revisiting the nation state’s National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and to facilitate the monitoring and review of progress at all levels in a more transparent and responsible manner.

Although Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan are all parties to the convention, mountains are yet to be prioritised.

ICIMOD, with partners, is arguing for greater focus to be given to mountain specificities within the HKH and other mountain regions by:

a) adding more mountain specific indicators during the revision of monitoring framework of the GBF and NBSAPs.

b) reviving the Programme of Work on Mountain Biological Diversity (PoWMB): a dormant framework for collaboration among mountain countries whose reactivation can support implementation of the GBF

On the eve of SBSTTA 26, ICIMOD convened regional member countries for a Virtual Regional Dialogue on preparation for SBSTTA 26: A roadmap to CoP16 at which the GBF, NBSAPs and PoWMB were discussed.

Key take-aways were:

  • Mountain ecosystems, covering 27% of the global terrestrial area, are of significant importance in terms of biodiversity and ecosystem services, crucial for the wellbeing of both mountain and downstream communities. They serve as not only geographical features but also lifelines for billions of people and habitats for countless species.
  • The Hindu Kush Himalaya region is a critically important part of the global mountain ecosystem which faces challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. It is imperative to emphasize its irreplaceable value and vulnerabilities, ensuring due attention within the CBD processes, including the Global Biodiversity Framework, its targets, and indicators.
  • Member countries are making progress in revising their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and trying to balance national priorities, mountains, and alignment with global targets. Some mountainous countries expressed the challenge over a lack of mountain specific targets and indicators in the Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Recognizing the vulnerability and significance of mountains, experts and negotiators felt the need to ensure mountain specific national targets and come together and anchor common mountain issues at regional and global platforms and advocate for mountain specific targets and indicators including during the SBSTTA 26 discussions.
  • There was a consensus on the relevance and importance of the Programme of Work on Mountain Biodiversity (PoWMB), particularly for addressing regional and transboundary issues such as the impact of climate change, wildlife trafficking, and human-wildlife conflict. Reviving PoWMB was deemed essential to garner attention and investments for mountain conservation.
  • The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is getting less attention in terms of investments. There must be a coordinated effort to get traction for investments.
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