COP15: Developing countries walk out of talks due to impasse on finance mechanism

Published 23:16 on December 14, 2022  /  Last updated at 23:16 on December 14, 2022  / Katherine Monahan /  Biodiversity

A large group of developing countries walked out of COP15 UN biodiversity negotiations in the early hours of Wednesday morning, pointing to continued struggles related to money.

A large group of developing countries walked out of COP15 UN biodiversity negotiations in the early hours of Wednesday morning, pointing to continued struggles related to money.

Funding, or “resource mobilisation” as it is called in the negotiations, falls directly under the 1992 text that formed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The agreement called on each country to ensure enough financial support to protect biodiversity domestically, while also supporting developing countries with new and additional financial resources – with the UN’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) called out as a key interim delivery mechanism.

The contact group on resource mobilisation met twice on Tuesday, with its later session finishing in the wee hours of Wednesday morning at 0140.

Those discussions had seen many country delegations insert additional bracketed text into the draft text, with the atmosphere quickly deteriorating when discussions turned to whether a new fund to finance biodiversity protection should be established.

“There was an exchange on matters related to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) … which culminated in the walkout of developing countries … in reaction to what they saw as an unconstructive approach to negotiations by developed countries,” said communications head David Ainworth of the UN’s CBD secretariat.

All heads of delegation were convened at 1100 on Wednesday to discuss the walkout, though the outcome of that meeting has not been made public.

The topic of finance is extremely contentious in the negotiations, where all parties see eye to eye on additional funds being needed, but have shown little agreement on the size, governance and source of these funds.

Many developing countries have called for the establishment of a new fund beyond the GEF, that will specifically target biodiversity and that they say could be designed with better transparency and accessibility.

“This would be a ‘second generation fund’, in the sense that it would draw on lessons learned from the successes and limitations of existing funds, with a view to ensure timely, direct, and needs-based access by developing countries,” a party representative from Brazil said during a stocktaking exercise over the weekend, noting it was a “statement made by Brazil on behalf of the like-minded group of developing countries”.

“Our group has proposed that developed countries commit to mobilise and jointly provide financial grants of at least $100 billion annually or 1% of global GDP until 2030 … These resources should be new and additional to those already being provided,” the Brazilian delegate added.

Meanwhile, several developed countries have noted the importance of all countries contributing to biodiversity funding, including countries such as Brazil that have seen their economies grow significantly since the 1992 CBD was drafted.

They also note that creating a new fund would be inefficient, and that the level of grant funding requested cannot be achieved through public sector sourcing alone – a position that is likely exacerbated by the absence of the US from the CBD.

“Resource mobilisation targets currently have more brackets than any others,” said Mark Opel, finance lead for non-profit group Campaign for Nature, noting that ministers and other high-level representatives will need to swiftly tackle this issue as they enter the negotiations on Thursday.

“The hardest parts get left to the very end, and the money is always the hardest part,” he added.

By Katherine Monahan –

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