COP15 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): Risks and Opportunities for Tech
This COP15 conference is essentially biodiversity’s answer to COP27 in the climate movement. COP 15 involved delegates from 196 countries with the aim of agreeing on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, aiming to end this decade with more nature, not less.
The draft Framework was published ahead of the start of the conference, with the key points as follows:
- Calls for urgent and transformative action by Governments and other stakeholders to set out targets and contribute to the objectives of the CBD.
- Assumes a whole-of-government and society approach is necessary to make the required changes over the next decade, stressing the need to internalise the value of nature and the cost of inaction.
- Calls for the mainstreaming of tools and solutions to reduce threats to biodiversity. This includes financial resources, capacity, and technology.
- Calls for a recognition of gender equality in the transition, as well as youth engagement and the participation of indigenous peoples in the implementation of the Framework
The flagship goal of COP15 is called the 30x30 target. This would require the protection of 30% of land and sea by 2030, a controversial target but one which would support the goals of the UN global climate targets too.
Areas of focus for this target are historically ‘stable’ carbon stores: Boreal Forest, and Peatlands. These biomes exist mostly in Russia, China, and the US. Globally important rainforests in the Amazon, Congo and Indonesia are also the target of 30x30 action. These equatorial biomes are partially covered by rainforest conservation goals set out by the ‘big three rainforest coalition’.
Although challenging, some argue that this target could be problematic even if successful, concentrating resource extraction even more intensely on unprotected areas. There are also worries the will to commit funds to conservation is lower during an economic downturn, while corruption remains a concern in the conversation around financing.
Like with climate, there are questions about the extent to which developed nations should pay poorer countries to protect their natural assets. A rainforest is, after all, an internationally important asset, despite being in a specific nation state. Countries in Europe who have long lost their own biodiversity and forests are likely to have to pay custodians to preserve their carbon stores if targets are to be met.
Despite division over the 30x30 plan, there are many more green policies being advocated for in the COP15 agenda. There is significant interest from the business community and techUK identifies biodiversity as an opportunity for the tech sector to show leadership in solutions.
Although it is early days, techUK believes that there is both an appetite from large businesses to do more for biodiversity, and for new businesses to emerge to serve this appetite. New compliance regimes on biodiversity are also on the way, presenting new risks and opportunities for the tech sector.
Business community ‘Business for Nature’ is a group of high-profile companies strongly advocating for business participation in the COP CBD process, and the adoption of the framework by business leaders. L’Occitane Group and Mahindra group are key advocates, themselves representing significant resources to divert towards nature conservation.
TNFD and Biodiversity Net Gain
Of the compliance regimes which will be implemented in the year following COP15, the most visible are the Taskforce for Nature-Related Non-Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and the UK’s Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) regulation, part of the UK’s Environment Act (2021). TNFD aims to provide a framework for addressing environmental risk and channelling finance into positive action. BNG will mandate that companies grow biodiversity on operational sites over their lifetime by 10%.
These regulations and directives, though some way off now, will present opportunities for tech companies who can provide data to large MNCs and SMEs alike. Like anything, high quality data insights will be important in meeting these goals, and monitoring tech will be required to support data production.
Craig is Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability and leads on our work in these areas ranging from climate change, ESG disclosures and due diligence, through to circular economy, business and human rights, conflict minerals and post-Brexit regulation.
Prior to joining techUK he worked in public affairs and policy has an avid interest in new and emerging technologies. Craig has a degree in Ancient History from King’s College London and spends his time watching Watford FC and holding out hope for Half Life 3.
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Adam joined techUK in September 2021 working in the Climate, Environment & Sustainability Team.
Adam has a Masters in Climate Change: Science, Environment and Policy from King's College London, as well as a Batchelor's degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Kent.
The Environment Programme encompasses many different areas of the tech market and policy sphere. Climate change is the highest policy priority for the programme, with ethical resourcing, supply chain due diligence, build environment digitalisation and economic circularity becoming increasingly prominent in the programmes activities.
Before working at techUK Adam worked in the NHS. His interest in nature and conservation led him to going on several conservation projects abroad including Peru and Fiji, working with caiman and tropical fish. When Adam is not saving the planet, he is either playing music, at the gym or playing cricket in the summer.
Lucas Banach is Programme Assistant at techUK, he works on a range of programmes including Data Centres; Climate, Environment & Sustainability; Market Access and Smart Infrastructure and Systems.
Before that Lucas who joined in 2008, held various roles in our organisation, which included his role as Office Executive, Groups and Concept Viability Administrator, and most recently he worked as Programme Executive for Public Sector. He has a postgraduate degree in International Relations from the Andrzej Frycz-Modrzewski Cracow University.