Brazil was elected on the night of this Monday (20), at the end of Biodiversity COP15president of the group of megadiverse countries with similar positions in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – which has also just approved the new global framework for biodiversity, stipulating that countries conserve 30% of global biodiversity by 2030.
The bloc concentrates between 60 and 70% of global biodiversity and is made up of eighteen developing countries: Bolivia, Brazil, ChinaColombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Ethiopia and Venezuela.
Dubbed the ‘megadisperse’ behind the scenes of UN biodiversity negotiations, the group has not been able to demonstrate jointly in recent years due to difficulties in finding common positions. The current presidency, led by Ethiopia, has failed to bring the bloc together.
Some countries, such as Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico, are members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and tend to align themselves with developed bloc positions on global conservation, while other major holders of biodiversity, such as Brazil and India , prioritize national circumstances over conservation and agribusiness.
Brazil had already managed to get around the differences when it presided over the bloc in 2010, when the megadiverse countries maintained joint positions on the sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity, in a negotiation that led to the approval of the Nagoya Protocol.
Now, Brazil hopes to raise the bloc’s profile and gain prominence in implementing the new global biodiversity framework. Brazilian diplomacy does not foresee a single solution for the megadiverse, but invests precisely in the thesis that solutions must be customized for the biodiversity of each location.
One bet of the Brazilian coordination is to strengthen socio-biodiversity products, emphasizing the promotion of social, economic and environmental benefits. The guideline goes back to the historical defense of the sustainable use of biodiversity made by Itamaraty in negotiations on the subject.
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has three pillars: conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing. While the bloc of developed countries invests in conservation, prioritizing goals linked to the creation of environmental protection areas; developing countries, led by Brazil, seek to strengthen the other two pillars, which deal with sustainable ways of taking advantage of biodiverse territories.
The Brazilian role in biodiversity negotiations became more evident after the presidential elections. The expectation is that the priority given by the elected government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to environmental issues reflects on the country’s leadership in the megadiverse bloc.
Incidentally, one of the partnerships desired by Lula’s team was advanced by the Itamaraty still under Bolsonaro throughout this year: the alliance between Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the three largest holders of tropical forests in the world.
Signed last month, during Climate COP-27, the partnership was activated at the end of Biodiversity COP-15. This Monday (19), the COP secretariat asked Brazil to mediate the conversation with the RDC, which had protested against the adoption of the new global biodiversity framework at the final plenary of COP15.
China, which presides over COP15, hit the hammer and ignored the Congolese objection, creating a tense atmosphere and raising doubts about the legitimacy of the decision. Together, Brazil and Indonesia convinced the Congolese to recognize the adoption of the document, in exchange for a speech in plenary on the country’s reservations in relation to the agreed text.
The arrangement put together by Brazilian diplomacy even included a response from the president of COP15, Huang Runqiu, who praised the relevance of the DRC to the COP.
After correcting the undiplomatic incident, Runqiu started asking ‘can I adopt?’ before banging the gavel on the next documents in line for COP decisions, changing the mood of the plenary and eliciting laughter.
COP-15 ended a little after midnight on Tuesday (20), despite the main decisions having been defined in the early hours of Monday.
The appointment of regional representatives to the bureau that handles COP procedures was blocked by the blocking of European countries to Russian candidacies. The disagreement, due to the war in Ukraine, forced all 153 countries present at the plenary to deposit their votes, one by one, to elect a representative of the region.
Unlike the climate negotiations, which are annual, the biodiversity COP is biannual and the countries only return to negotiations in 2024, in Turkey. With the new framework approved, the nations will discuss implementation strategies, mobilization of financial resources and the operation of the global benefit-sharing mechanism, also approved at COP15.
*The journalist traveled at the invitation of Avaaz.