Han De Koeijer
Three questions to Han De Koeijer, Coordinator Belgian Clearing House Mechanisme (CHM)
- What are the opportunities and threats in your daily work with regards to the preparation of COP15 and how is the Belgian CHM overcoming these difficulties ?
In the CEBioS programme of the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences we are working on capacity building for the implementation of the Convention on Biological diversity in partner countries of the Belgian development cooperation. My daily work helps to understand the needs of the partner countries with regards to capacity building and development and reporting. We are organizing at this moment meetings in some partner countries to inform them on the ongoing negotiations, learn from them about their future capacity building and development needs and discuss how CEBioS can assist them after COP15. We assisted Niger to get funding through UNDP from the Belgian Development cooperation to develop biodiversity finance plans (BioFin), a subject that is still being negotiated in the running up of COP 15. All of this helps me to develop the EU position on capacity building and development, knowledge management and public awareness, for which I am lead negotiator for the EU and its member states. The CHM assist a lot in sharing opportunities for capacity building and development, as well as it lightens the reporting burden for Belgian and the partner countries as much of the information, when it is becoming available, is added on the national CHMs.
As the road to COP15 is becoming very long, still no dates fixed, the preparation for the negotiations is taken up too much (of my) time of the experts and negotiators. Sitting in virtual meetings is becoming tiring, especially as capacity development isn’t the main concern of many MS and comes up only very shortly. Due to the COVID pandemic we are missing the in-person meetings to solve different views by bilateral talks.
- Why does capacity building matter so much on the road to COP15? What are the benefits from it ?
In the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 the developing countries mentioned that the lack of financial resources and capacity were the main reasons for not advancing towards the AICHI Targets in their countries. The people involved in implementing the CBD as well as preparing the monitoring of indicators quite often don’t have the capacity nor financing to do the monitoring of these global indicators nor developing national ones. If one doesn’t have the capacity to know what biodiversity you have, what the threats are, it will be difficult to develop activities to conserve and sustainably use it. The benefits of capacity building are multiple as especially the sustainable use has huge potential for developing countries. Several Belgian development actors are already undertaking actions in countries like Burundi, Benin, and DR Congo to promote agroecology principles which promote biodiversity, avoid degradation of farmland and promote diversification of food and income sources, with farmers and extension services.
- How can COP15 really be successful and effective to safeguard biodiversity ?
COP15 can only be successful if all Parties are flexible and are willing to work together to come up with a transformative change to ensure that biodiversity won’t face a human-made extinction in the coming decades. This means that the global strategic framework should be ambitious but also that the means of implementation like financial resources, capacity building and development, and mainstreaming of biodiversity in all sectors of society are well developed and acceptable to all. Only when all countries are working together for the implementation of the global biodiversity framework it can be an effective framework, but it will ask a lot of political will as well as human and financial resources. Recent discussions on nitrogen deposits by agriculture in nature 2000 reserves and changing the financial subsidies of the EU green deal towards biological agriculture, have been examples of the long road to go to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.
Transformative change in human behavior will be necessary as David Attenborough has clearly mentioned in recent interviews to avoid climate change and a new extinction of biodiversity and maybe man-kind.