Coral reefs in the post-2020 biodiversity targets

Last week in Nairobi the Convention on Biological Diversity officially opened discussions on the next set of targets to take on, after the current Aichi Targets will become due in 2020.

The Open-Ended Working Group discussions to set the new targets, from 2020 onwards, kicked off with a general consultation in which countries, partners and observers all participated. CORDIO’s David Obura participated in the discussions with a particular interest in proposals for a coral reef-focused target, led by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), and in how monitoring and and indicators can be integrated with the new post-2020 targets framework from the start, to build on lessons learned from the 2010-2020 process of the CBD, and ongoing work to measure and assess the Sustainable Development Goals.

The coral reef agenda was carried by several members of an ad-hoc committee under ICRI, and highlighted in a UN Environment Planet Unplugged session (see video at right, 1 hour) that included the UN Environment Executive Director, Dr. Inger Anderson, ICRI’s Emily Corcoran and Dr. David Obura. The Deputy Director for the Ecosystems Division, Mrs Monika Macdevette, moderated the panel (1 hour).

A biodiversity vision for 2050 has already been identified by the countries that are party to the convention, titled ‘Living in harmony with Nature’, and the Sustainable Development Goals already establish a comprehensive framework of linked environmental, social and economic goals. A key point of agreement among countries and observers was that the post-2020 target framework should:

  • >> be embedded within the 2050 vision, thus provide 10 year interim milestones towards the longer term vision;
  • >> align strongly with the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • >> align strongly with other international frameworks, in particular on climate change (the Paris Agreement) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and its assessments and concepts.
  • >> include advanced proposals for measuring and monitoring progress.

With this in hand, the post-2020 discussions will break up into multiple thematic strands, including a marine one that CORDIO will participate in through its work on indicators and data supporting decision-makers (with Norad funding), culminating in 2 more meetings of the OEWG in February and May 2020.

Of particular focus for CORDIO will be to contribute how a ‘coral reef model’ can help elucidate the complex interrelations between nature, society and economy that facilitates the conceptual structure for a post-2020 biodiversity framework linked to the SDGs, climate and other global conventions, and how to aggregate data into indicators that reliably show trends and can motivate appropriate decisions from local to national and global levels.