UN COP15 on biological diversity: A lesson in climate mission creep


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According to Oxford Languages, “Mission Creep” is defined as “a gradual shift in objectives during the course of a military campaign, often resulting in an unplanned long-term commitment.”

It’s a term that unfortunately is a perfect description of the United Nations’ (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). What may have started out as a legitimate conversation on biological diversity is now more about power, control, and most of all, money.

This year is the 15th annual meeting of the Convention, known as COP15, in Montreal, Canada. CFACT is a recognized nongovernmental (NGO) observer organization to the CBD and has been listening to many of the breakout sessions and discussions taking place.

Mentioned frequently during breakout panels were the words “finance” and “funding.” Developing countries were arguing for $100 billion per year from developed nations through the year 2030 in order to fund conservation initiatives.

As reported by Reuters:

So far, they have had little success. During a session on mobilizing finance for protecting nature late Tuesday, delegates from countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa walked out just after midnight to protest the reluctance by wealthy nations at the summit to discuss new funds.

“‘There were several funding proposals brought forward by developing countries,’ said a negotiator from a Latin American country. ‘We were told that none would work.’

The EU, already the biggest donor to biodiversity initiatives, would likely be expected to foot much of the bill as the largest bloc of wealthy nations. The United States, because it is not part of the CBD, would have no funding obligation.

The EU pushed back against such calls on Wednesday, saying it was important to look at other funding sources — private donors, development banks and philanthropies.”

Multiple panelists from meetings CFACT viewed have emphasized the money issue. “Finance, of course…the crux of the issue,” one panelist quipped. Another suggested funding needs to be more “creative” to touch more issue areas. Yet another speaker said “this is a lot about finance, of course, again, this COP.”

Yet it isn’t just funding for conservation initiatives that is at issue. At a COP15 panel that began with the curious introduction “Good morning women and not-women,” one Brazilian indigenous activist demanded “direct financing for indigenous peoples.” The reasoning behind this is that governments and businesses are “continuing exploiting” indigenous communities through things like “gold mining, hydropower, agrobusiness,” and “pesticides.”

Indigenous communities supposedly bear the brunt of the negative effects of these practices, and, the argument goes, deserve financial payments to deal with such issues.

It is a similar theme to the policy of “loss and damage” pushed at the UN’s COP27 climate change conference just a few weeks ago, where developing nations pushed for reparations for climate “damages.” Since wealthy nations reaped the benefits of using fossil fuels, they need to pay developing nations dealing with natural weather disasters, representatives from developing nations argued.

The science, of course, doesn’t back this up, as extreme weather events are not increasing on climate timescales and the increased use of fossil fuels actually helps all nations adapt to climate disasters, but that didn’t stop the issue from being pushed through UN negotiations.

But in that same theme of “Climate Mission Creep,” money wasn’t the only additional issue to come up at the CBD COP15. Another issue referenced frequently was the supposed intersectionality of habitat loss and disease.

One speaker argued that “Ecosystem Based Adaptation” is necessary for both human and animal health because these two things are directly linked. In another event titled “Food Day: Transforming food systems to reverse biodiversity loss and achieve food security and nutrition for all by 2030,” one panelist argued It is imperative to keep food “separate from nature.” For it is far less expensive to preserve an area than it is to restore an area.

Keeping such environmental degradation in check is imperative to prevent the spread of vector borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and more, it was said. Other speakers claimed environmental degradation in the Amazon was leading to increased levels of cancer.

CFACT’s Marc Morano just recently reported on attempts by Dr. Anthony Fauci to link diseases like COVID-19 and climate change. Fauci wrote, “The emergence of new infections and the reemergence of old ones are largely the result of human interactions with and encroachment on nature. As human societies expand in a progressively interconnected world and the human–animal interface is perturbed, opportunities are created, often aided by climate changes…”

The UN has realized that there’s real money in merging as many issues into climate change as possible. Climate change, biodiversity, disease, and more, are all interconnected and need to be funded to the tune of billions of dollars.

In fact, the UN has very clearly lined this plan out through its “Aichi Biodiversity Targets.” With 20 targets in total, the Aichi list goes over a framework of how the UN plans to address biodiversity loss and all of the other issues that supposedly are connected within the CBD.

For example, Target 11 says “By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.”

In other words, this means drastically increasing the amount of land and water that are “off limits” to any sort of human activity.

Furthermore, Target 14 says “By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.”

It doesn’t get vaguer than “ecosystems that…contribute to health.”

So, while the initial definition of mission creep provided above included the word “unplanned,” it is uncanny how these gradual changes to the UN’s mission always seem to increase the UN’s power and funding levels. And given the Aichi Biodiversity Targets clearly trying to link land preservation with health, it seems pretty well planned by the UN.

Yet regardless of what happens with funding and issue merging, one cloud hovers over COP15 that looks eerily similar to the climate talks of COP27.

Reuters reports:

If negotiations don’t soon progress, observers have questioned whether China, which holds the summit’s rotating presidency, will step in and deliver their own text to be adopted. A similar intervention unfolded during overtime climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last month.”

CFACT will continue to utilize its NGO status to monitor these UN meetings and report back on any updates.

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* This article was originally published here

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