Rwanda Welcomes Global Deal to Save Species From Extinction

Delegates applaud the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework on December 19, 2022.
20 December 2022

Rwanda has welcomed the adoption of a historic agreement to address the loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems.

The agreement named " Global Biodiversity Framework" was adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal which was concluded on Monday, December 19, 2022.

The governments agreed on urgent actions to halt human-caused extinctions of species known to be under threat and to promote their recovery.

The deal follows scientific warnings that humans are causing the start of Earth's sixth mass extinction event, the largest loss of life since the time of the dinosaurs.

Speaking at the final plenary, Jeanne D'arc Mujawamariya, the Minister for Environment congratulated China as COP15 President and encouraged nations to work hard to fulfill the commitments made in the new Global Biodiversity Framework adopted on Monday in Montreal.

" I thank all the parties for the tireless effort to bring together an agreement that reflects the urgent need to halt the biodiversity crisis and that will quickly avail the resources needed to achieve the ambitious goals we have set.

Rwanda was proud to play a small part in this effort. Many years of negotiations led to a global biodiversity framework and now the hard work begins to fulfill the commitments we are making to ourselves, each other, and mother nature," she noted.

Rwanda has committed to increasing the resources and funds spent on biodiversity preservation and restoration from the current 0.5-0.9 per cent to two per cent of the national GDP in line with the global goal to double the percentage of GDP spent on biodiversity preservation and restoration.

The country is also committed to preventing particularly those that are most at risk of extinction and restoring species of ecological importance.

Inside the historic deal

The deal was negotiated over two weeks and includes targets to protect 30 per cent of the planet for nature by the end of the decade, annually reduce $500 billion of environmentally harmful subsidies, and restore 30 per cent of the planet's degraded terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems.

A report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2021 states that governments around the world are spending about US$500 billion to US$1 trillion every year on subsidies for fossil fuels and other environmentally damaging subsidies.

Convened under UN auspices, chaired by China, and hosted by Canada, the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the "Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework" (GBF), including four goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030.

The targets in the adopted Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) include effective conservation and management of at least 30 per cent of the world's lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and oceans, with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services.

Currently, 17 per cent and 10 per cent of the world's terrestrial and marine areas respectively are under protection.

The targets also include reducing to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity, cutting global food waste in half, and significantly reduce over consumption and waste generation, reducing by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals and scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity's conservation and sustainable use.

$200bn to be mobilised

The deal seeks to mobilize by 2030 at least $200 billion per year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources - public and private, raise international financial flows from developed to developing countries, in particular, least developed countries, small island developing States, and countries with economies in transition, to at least US$ 20 billion per year by 2025, and to at least US$ 30 billion per year by 2030.

The agreement will look at preventing the introduction of priority invasive alien species, and reduce by at least half the introduction and establishment of other known or potential invasive alien species, and eradicate or control invasive alien species on islands and other priority sites.

Requiring large and transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains, and portfolios is also among the targets to halt loss of biodiversity.

Held at Montreal's Palais des Congrès from December 7 to December 19 , representatives of 188 governments on site (95% of all 196 Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as two non-Parties - the United States and The Vatican), finalized and approved measures to arrest the ongoing loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity and set humanity in the direction of a sustainable relationship with nature, with clear indicators to measure progress.

In addition to the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the meeting approved a series of related agreements on its implementation, including planning, monitoring, reporting and review, resource mobilization; helping nations to build their capacity to meet the obligations; and digital sequence information on genetic resources.

For example, The Global Environment Facility was requested to establish, as soon as possible, a Special Trust Fund to support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework ("GBF Fund"). The fund would complement existing support and scale up financing to ensure the timely implementation of the GBF with an adequate, predictable and timely flow of funds.

COP15 delegates agreed to establish within the GBF a multilateral fund for the equitable sharing of benefits between providers and users of DSI, to be finalized at COP16 in Türkiye in 2024.

Conservationists on what the agreement means

Conservation experts in Rwanda have said that the historic agreement to address the loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems-which was signed in Canada on December 19 -is timely considering that failure to halt the extinction of species could affect various sectors of economic development.

Aloysie Manishimwe, a conservation expert and researcher who is lecturer at the University of Rwanda said: " It means a lot for Rwanda as a small country with a growing population that relies highly on agricultural production. This means that Rwanda has to adopt more biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices.

Protected areas are important but if they are to function as islands in a sea of disturbed agricultural land, then conservation efforts will also be compromised by especially human-wildlife conflicts in addition to ongoing and predicted climate change impacts."

She added that when a species has gone extinct, it is a global loss of genetic diversity because each species has a great role to play in the functioning of an ecosystem for that ecosystem to deliver the services that it should be delivering.

"We know that our livelihoods depend on those different services. This urges us to care for the remaining species and their habitats if we want to have a healthy environment.," she said.

Beth Kaplin, a biodiversity scientist, who is Director of Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management at the University of Rwanda said that loss of biodiversity could lead to food insecurity and more disasters.

"Biodiversity supports agriculture, climate adaptation, tourism, and so much more," she said noting that the ambitious goals that bring biodiversity front and centre in economic development were needed.

Prosper Uwingeli, Volcano National Park Chief warden said that while the government has made tremendous efforts to over the past two decades to restore and protect the country's natural forest areas, more partnerships are needed for protecting ecosystems.

Anaclet Budahera, the Chief warden for Gishwati-Mukura National Park said that the success story of Rwanda's newest national park and Rwanda's efforts to protect and restore the area by investing in nature-based solutions and forest landscape restoration should be a model for restoring biodiversity to avoid extinction of species.

"In Rwanda, we believe that protecting our biodiversity is not only important for future generations but also because of the role it plays in developing tourism as a pillar of the economy," statee Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer at Rwanda Development Board.

"We need substantial finance for developing countries and investments in nature-based solutions that put communities first," said Sam Kanyamibwa, The CEO of Albertine Conservation Society.

The survey, dubbed "Wetlands Biodiversity and Ecological Integrity Assessment", conducted by Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network) shows that 40 per cent of wetlands have lost their quality due to encroachment in Rwanda.

The assessment found that at least eight bird species, three mammals, two fish species, one amphibian and two reptiles were endangered or threatened due to wetlands encroachment that led them to lose ecological integrity or quality.

However, the study revealed that the level of pressure of threats to the wetlands' biodiversity is at 65 per cent while the level of action to respond to the threats is only at 35 per cent.

Akanksha Khatri, author of The New Nature Economy Report and Head of nature and Biodiversity at the World Economic Forum commented: "Now that countries have signed this deal, we need businesses to tackle this crisis and shift to a nature-positive economy. Doing so will create jobs, growth and food security while also helping us tackle the effects of climate change.

Our research shows that $44 trillion, the equivalent of about half global GDP, is at risk due to nature-loss, with the biggest threat to the agriculture, forestry, food and construction sectors. Moreover, a nature-positive economy would create 395 million jobs and $10 trillion in business value each year by 2030."

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