African countries are lamenting the outcome of the recent conference on the protection of endangered species, suggesting the drawn pact was bent to suit certain developed countries.
And the finger of blame pointed at the president of the conference in particular for what African delegations claimed was a twisted procedure to suit Beijing.
The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Conference, in its 15th edition (COP15), saw delegations from across the world gather in Montreal, Canada to discuss the protection of species as a way of conservation.
African countries including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Angola expressed their dismay at how things went down in the final moments of the conference. They accused Huang Runqiu, the Chinese COP15 president of forcing the deal through despite objections from African countries.
“You have twisted the procedure that you yourself announced. You had announced that the documents would be individually adopted. What you did, just a minute ago, was basically a force of hand,” a Cameroon negotiator said in protest in the negotiation hall.
The DR Congo’s environment minister, Eve Bazaiba, said that her country didn’t support the Global Biodiversity Framework because of the state of the financial target. The country had wanted developed nations to pay into a new fund akin to the one that was agreed upon at the UN climate conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November.
Home to a big chunk of the world’s biodiversity such as the Congo basin, DR Congo wanted the new fund for biodiversity protection to be separate from the United Nations’ existing Global Environment Facility.
“Developed nations should provide resources to developing countries so as to support the additional cost of implementation. This commitment needs to be in step with post-2020 GBF and this must, this figure must stand at $100 billion,” Ms Bazaiba suggested before the final plenary on December 19.
’30 by 30’ deal
The framework in Canada had been cited by some participants as “historic” after the parties agreed to the ’30 by 30’ deal. It refers to the intent to protect 30 per cent of the world’s biodiversity by 2030.
The targets in the final text included protecting 30 per cent of the world for nature by 2030, safeguarding the rights of indigenous people as stewards of nature, taking urgent action on extinctions, and reforming $500 billion of subsidies.
“Make no mistake: this is a historic result for nature. The resulting Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework provides a long-needed international blueprint to guide our collective turnaround of nature’s fortunes within this crucial decade,” said Andrew Deutz, The Nature Conservancy’s director of global policy, institutions and conservation finance.
He added: “Against a backdrop of dramatic ecological declines in the face of human-driven pressures, the world badly needed CBD-COP15 to deliver – and it did just that, scoring a win for people and nature.”
But the final text called on developed countries to increase funding to poor countries to at least $30 billion per year to ensure that 30 per cent of the planet is committed to nature by 2030. Current estimates put financial flows for biodiversity protection from rich nations to poor countries at around $10 billion per year.
“My statement – that of my country through my voice – was formal opposition. And to the great astonishment of the entire world, we regret that this space is a space where we resort to violence against our texts, a text we all adopted and that history will never forgive us,” DR Congo’s Bazaiba said after China’s Runqiu struck his gavel, declaring the deal adopted.
Another Cameroonian negotiator described the final outcome of the summit as a “force of hand”.
“I’m from a country of the Congo Basin, rich in biodiversity which has sacrificed for all mankind by sacrificing its resources. We expect a matching of our efforts. We were on the right path, and we think what we saw was a force of hand.”
Decision without consensus
Uganda’s problem was mainly what one negotiator described as a decision made without consensus.
“We all know that the rules of procedure require decision-making by consensus. We would wish the COP president to clarify that the decision we’ve just made is consistent with COP rules or else it becomes a fraud,” he said.
In the recent past, Uganda and DR Congo have been under attack by campaigners for pursuing oil and gas projects in critical biodiversity areas of the former’s Murchison Falls National Park and the latter’s Virunga National Park.