Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 23rd Apr 2024, 01:24:04pm CEST

Session Overview
Biodiversity Governance: The Road Ahead
Thursday, 26/Oct/2023:
8:30am - 10:00am

Session Chair: Ines Dombrowsky
Location: GR 1.170

Session Conference Streams:
Architecture and Agency, Justice and Allocation

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The Paris Moment for biodiversity: is it actually good news for nature?

Ana Maria Ulloa

The University of Sydney, Australia

After the long road to the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework, it remains to be seen whether this post-2020 Biodiversity Framework adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in December 2022 will effectively catalyse action to achieve nature-positive by 2050. The challenge ahead is steep. Not only has biodiversity kept declining at an alarming rate, but also the CBD has failed twice to achieve its objectives. As disheartening as it is, this is not an uncommon outcome in Global Environmental Governance (GEG). Five decades of strong international cooperation to safeguard our planet and its life-supporting systems have not resulted, for the most part, in better goal achievement or an improved status of the environment. This paradox is two-fold. On the one hand, there is the fact that states have increasingly favoured the adoption of lofty global commitments that are rarely backed up by enforcement mechanisms. On the other hand, the resulting weak regulatory influence of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) has meant a reliance on normative influence to promote goal achievement in the form of accountability mechanisms. However, a proliferation of accountability mechanisms has not improved implementation, compliance, or environmental outcomes. During the negotiations of the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, there was enthusiasm about nature finally having its Paris Moment — a reference to the Paris Agreement (PA) adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015 with the overarching goal of limiting climate change to 1.5°C by 2030. However, the PA has struggled to catalyse action to halt climate change and received critiques about accountability gaps. This begs the question: why does the PA bring so much optimism about the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework? Undeniably, the UNFCCC has followed a more rigorous path than the CBD, and climate change has had a more prominent profile in the international agenda than biodiversity. But is the PA well equipped to achieve net-zero by 2030? Because this paper argues that strengthening accountability is crucial to improve the effectiveness of MEAs, its objectives are to 1) examine the strengths and weaknesses of the PA accountability mechanisms, 2) examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework accountability mechanisms, and 3) analyse what it implies for nature conservation that biodiversity is finally having its Paris Moment. Through the lenses of climate and biodiversity governance, this paper sheds light on how accountability can bring the transformative change needed in GEG to improve environmental outcomes.

Regulatory Disengagement and the Shifting Politics of Biotechnology under the Convention on Biological Diversity

Florian Rabitz1, Elsa Tsioumani2

1Kaunas University of Technology; 2University of Trento

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) emerged during the 1990s as the international focal point for the regulation of diverse biotechnological developments with positive as well as negative implications for the conservation of biological diversity, its sustainable use as well as the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. During the past decade, however, the CBD has been trending towards regulatory disengagement: a mode of international rule-making that prioritizes procedural over substantive outcomes; and shallower over deeper forms of legalization, possibly reflecting a broader move towards "de-legalization" of international law. This trend recently culminated in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and other decisions adopted by the 15th session of the CBD’s Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in December 2022. In what was otherwise a political landmark deal in global biodiversity governance, the COP 15 decisions on biotechnological issues are overwhelmingly procedural and, where they are substantive, are limited in their degrees of legalization. We assess regulatory disengagement on three key issues that have been on the CBD's agenda for approximately the past decade: digital sequence information on genetic resources; risk assessment for novel Living Modified Organisms; and synthetic biology. Starting from the notion that regulatory disengagement constitutes atypical behavior for international organizations, we propose that it indicates a profound reorganization of the international politics of biotechnology in the context of the CBD. Specifically, we suggest that the geographical diversification of global biotechnological research, development and innovation, which cuts across the traditional North-South fault line that defined the CBD during its first two decades, has led to the emergence of a broad coalition that seeks to deplatform the relevant agenda items. Tracing shifts in the revealed policy preferences of major developing countries over time, we show how commercial motives related to the potential benefits of novel biotechnologies have become increasingly dominant while biosafety and global justice as previous priority items undergo a marked decline. We conclude that regulatory disengagement and the underpinning shift in political power relations implies a major decrease in the CBD's governance capacity and interferes in various ways with the long-term goals and objectives of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Transforming biodiversity governance? Indigenous Peoples’ contributions and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

Louisa Parks, Elsa Tsioumani

University of Trento, Italy

The 2022 Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity arguably marked a radical rights-turn in global biodiversity governance. For the first time in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the new global framework includes a strong focus on rights-based approaches, different value systems, and non-market-based approaches. It also includes specific clauses recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) to land, territories, and resources. This rights-turn was a surprising outcome, given that earlier drafts of the Framework gave little space to such approaches and clauses. The paper will assess this, combining legal and sociological analysis, based on a literature review, content analysis of UN documents, participant observation at CBD meetings, and interviews with key negotiators. It will first provide overviews of the contribution of IPLCs to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the evolution of the CBD framework to partially recognize such a contribution. It will then analyze how the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework came to take its rights-turn, and in particular whether this was the result of the meaningful participation of IPLCs or of other political processes. The paper will conclude with reflections on how the Framework may create new spaces for meaningful participation in CBD processes for IPLCs.

Not in my waters: Linking and unlinking marine biodiversity in the negotiations of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

Alice B. M. Vadrot, Silvia C. Ruiz Rodríguez, Ina Tessnow-von Wysocki

University of Vienna, Austria

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, states make efforts to protect marine ecosystems in national and international waters by negotiating the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. However, consensus is lacking with regards to the role of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the protection of marine biodiversity in international waters, encouraging states to argue that measures to protect such biodiversity should be discussed only during the ongoing negotiations for a new treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of use marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The simultaneous negotiation of marine biodiversity measures in different fora gives the unique opportunity to study empirically the division and linking of marine biodiversity for the purpose of governance and economic gain. We apply the concept of issue linkage and insights from practice theories to shed light on linking and unlinking practices and question the current state of marine biodiversity governance and its suitability for environmental protection and sustainable use. We draw on ethnography and interviews conducted during the second part of the third session, the fourth and fifth sessions of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Global Biodiversity Framework, and the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Our analysis shows that states link and unlink marine biodiversity to facilitate compliance with international instruments and continue marine resources’ extraction. This highlights the need to emphasize the connectivity of the ocean.

A fallacy of the commons in the making? Mapping science-patent relations to inform governance of marine genetic resources

Paul Dunshirn

University of Vienna, Austria

Genetic resources from marine organisms are considered to be of great value to research and commerce (e.g. for the development of medicines or chemicals) and an important pillar to emerging blue economies. Technological advances are currently opening up new genetic materials in the high and deep seas and their scientific exploration is crucial to various sustainability and governance efforts. However, concerns persist over how the patenting of marine genetic resources impacts innovation and marine science. While some marine scientists consider possibilities to patent findings as important to their research efforts, disproportionate and monopolized control over patents may disincentivize further research and constitute global imbalances in the distribution of benefits. Despite the significance of these issues, there is currently a lack of data and research to inform discussions on the link between marine science and patents. This paper aims to address this gap using large-scale data analysis. It first maps out the main scientific stakeholders in the marine genetic resource commons. It then explores factors behind the uptake of science in patent texts. Finally, it plots national science-patenting balances as a point of consideration for the design of access- and benefit-sharing mechanisms in international governance frameworks, such as the Convention of Biological Diversity or under UNCLOS. Overall, these perspectives on science-patent relations contribute to the better design of a marine genetic resource commons and open pathways for further research on the effects of patenting on marine science.

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