UN relocates COP15 biodiversity talks to Italy from China

11 February 2020 | Mitigation


Italy will host UN biodiversity talks next month after the rapid spread of the coronavirus forced authorities to relocate the meeting from China.

The meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was planned to take place in the southern city of Kunming, in Yunnan province, from 24-29 February. The CBD changed the location of the talks to Rome, Italy, at the same dates as initially planned.

The announcement comes after the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a “public health emergency of international concern”.

The February talks are a preparatory meeting to the most important summit on the Earth’s living systems in a decade.

China is presiding over this year’s critical biodiversity summit, when countries are due to agree on a new global framework to protect plants and wildlife. The talks, known as Cop15, are due to take place in Kunming from 15-28 October.

CBD acting executive secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema said the CBD secretariat recognised “the enormous efforts” being undertaken by China to control the outbreak and limit disruption.

In a letter to participants, she added that the Secretariat and China “regret the inconvenience caused by this change and are committed to ensuring that the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and other preparations (for Cop 15) proceed in a timely and effective manner.”

An earlier consultation scheduled to take place on 20-22 February is still due to take place in Kunming.

Biodiversity campaigners and experts hope Cop15 will create a framework that can be to biodiversity protection what the Paris Agreement is for climate action.

In a draft proposal earlier this year, the UN suggested that at least 30% of the world’s land and seas should be protected by 2030 to halt the destruction of the planet’s biodiversity from human threats including climate change, loss of habitats, pollution and invasive species.

Negotiators taking part in the upcoming meeting are expected to review the draft and start making proposals for a second version or the text.

Charles Barber, a senior biodiversity advisor at the World Resources Institute think tank, said that the February meeting would have been “a great chance” for China to “show leadership in the preparatory process” to Cop15.

Barber said the outbreak “must certainly distract  high level policy attention” from the meeting. “Assuming the virus is contained within the next month, it should not derail  China’s hosting of the Cop in October,” he said.

“Should it be proven that the coronavirus emanated from human consumption of animals from the wildlife market in Wuhan, we can expect the Cop to shine a much brighter light on the international wildlife trade, and China’s central role in that trade, as well as the whole ‘bushmeat’ issue worldwide,” he added.


Source: Climate Home News