Art work created by youths from the Global Youth Biodiversity Network

19th January 2023

SGI Advocates for a Strong Global Biodiversity Framework at COP15

  • Sustainability & climate change

From 3–19 December 2022, SGI participated in the final round of negotiations of the fifth Open-ended Working Group and the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which gathered in Montreal, Canada. COP15 adopted the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) as part of a package that includes a monitoring system and resource mobilization strategy for the GBF (which will be further developed towards COP16), as well as an agreement to share the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

After four years of intense negotiations, the Chinese presidency of COP15 succeeded in bridging often disparate positions in the Kunming-Montreal GBF, setting a goal to live in harmony with nature by 2050. To do so, nations adopted four goals and 23 targets under the GBF to complete by 2030 in order to “take urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss to put nature on a path to recovery for the benefit of people and planet.”

Alexandra Masako Goossens-Ishii of SGI (right) joined a panel discussion organized by the Parliament of the World Religions on Human Rights and the Rights of Nature.

Advocating for the GBF to follow a human rights-based approach, SGI welcomed the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and territories in several important targets, including Target 3 on the protection of at least 30% of biodiversity by 2030 through protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Target 22 includes explicit references to full, equitable, inclusive and gender-responsive participation; access to justice, rights over lands, territories, resources and traditional knowledge; and the protection of environmental human rights defenders. Target 23 recognizes women’s rights and contributions through a standalone gender target. Finally, the framework also includes the principle of intergenerational equity and calls for participation by youth.

However, SGI representative Alexandra Masako Goossens-Ishii stresses that other aspects of the framework are felt by many NGO participants to be causes of concern. In particular, the GBF lacks comprehensive technology horizon scanning and legally-binding corporate accountability, and it includes biodiversity offsets and credits. (This article from NGO and civil society activist Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition offers a more detailed perspective on the GBF.)

Faiths at COP15 meet with UN Convention on Biological Diversity Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema

From an interfaith perspective, SGI joined the Faiths at COP15 coalition, which gathered faith groups spanning almost every single major faith tradition. For the first time in the context of a Biodiversity COP, faith communities were able to have their voices and policy recommendations heard by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema and many negotiators. There were also numerous faith-based side events at COP15, which are available to watch on YouTube. The presence and contributions of faith groups at COP15 was also covered in the media.

Furthermore, as the 2022 SGI peace proposal highlighted, the intersecting issues of climate change, biodiversity loss and desertification need to be addressed together creatively in order to inspire fresh momentum. The 2022 proposal also emphasized the importance for civil society, led by youth, to discuss the protection of the “global commons,” the resources we all need for the survival and flourishing of all humanity as part of nature. SGI's affiliate institution, the Soka Amazon Institute, was founded in 1993 to protect biodiversity in the Amazon region, and has carried out various seed conservation, reforestation and environmental education activities in partnership with other local entities.