“Our Solutions are in Nature”: Costa Rica in the spotlight for the theme of the 2020 International Day for Biological Diversity
While the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the risks related to human interference with biodiversity through wildlife trafficking, the destruction of habitats and natural ecosystems and certain intensive livestock farming practices, International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated on 22 May 2020 on the theme “Our Solutions are in Nature”, is particularly significant this year.
With a disrupted international agenda, 2020, which was planned to be a “super year for humans and nature” with several key events (World Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN, United Nations Biodiversity Conference, etc.), has been used for the name of the next Global Biodiversity Framework, which has been called “Post-2020”. The project with the same name Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support, implemented by Expertise France and financed by the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, is supporting the negotiation process and the start of the implementation of this future framework, which should be adopted at the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) scheduled to take place in China.
Preparing COP15 on biodiversity
This additional event, which has been postponed to an unspecified date in the spring of 2021, aims to allow the international community to be better prepared in a context where the vital importance of preserving and living in harmony with nature has been brought vividly home to humanity.
The latest discussions of the Working Group for the Global Framework (OEWG2), which met in Rome in February, focused on the definition of the targets and objectives of the framework, the resources – in particular financial – and the implementation methods, including the agenda for action for non-State actors, as well as the issues of transparency and accountability. While the scientific community has now established that the causes of the Covid-19 pandemic are directly related to the massive destruction of biodiversity, COP15 will need to contribute to proposing a new model to address the health and ecological crisis, which has become economic and social, through an integrated handling of the issues and solutions.
Towards an integrated and inclusive Global Framework
Issues related to the integration of the various international conventions on biodiversity are already being studied and should gain prominence. The coordination with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a tool to combat trafficking in endangered species, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is decisive for taking nature-based solutions into account in the prevention and treatment of health issues, should become priorities. But the involvement of international frameworks regulating the other issues (international trade, health, food production, etc.) and the coordination with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where health, biodiversity and human development have a prominent place, will especially become even more urgent.
To give substance to this new framework, COP15 will need to include all non-State actors via its agenda for action and provide for resources to make the transformational change required for a global ecological and social transition. This inclusiveness should be expressed both towards local and subnational actors – in view of the key role of their innovative and climate-resilient leadership – and civil society, companies, development banks and the financial sector. It will be necessary to take action in the arenas that exert great pressure on biodiversity and directly involve them. This broad-based mobilisation will be key to providing resources to operationalise the new Global Framework. They will need to be diversified and massive, in the context of systemic reflection on the means to rebuild “better” and for an ecological and social transition in the post-crisis context.
Costa Rica, a pioneer and visionary country
In many respects, Costa Rica provides responses for transformational change and transition which the international community should draw on to ensure that the next Global Framework for Biodiversity marks the real start of a new relationship between people and nature.
The country received the United Nations 2019 Champions of the Earth award for its pioneering role in the fight against climate change. It advocates for the development of nature-based solutions by increasing the surface of protected areas to 30% of the Earth’s surface. Costa Rica is co-leader of the High Ambition Coalition and upholds this objective as the only way to ensure that development will be able to halt the loss of biodiversity and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Its leadership draws on the exemplary nature of a strong national policy for a totally carbon-free trajectory for its economy by 2050, combined with a fully crosscutting mainstreaming of biodiversity in all sectors of economic activity (transport, energy, culture, education, etc.), supported by ambitious public policy decisions.
The country is unleashing the full potential of nature-based solutions and showing the way forward for a number of countries by proposing innovative methods of inclusion for all sections of society (online consultations, sectoral committees, etc.). These approaches are influenced by dynamics of biodiversity ownership, in particular in companies and banks. The latter are crucial for the establishment of alternative financial mechanisms to private funds, supporting the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. This is of vital importance to make the required paradigm shift and tap the potential of nature as a crucial outcome of the interconnected global crises we are experiencing.
An ambitious cycle of activities to mainstream biodiversity into the national policy
In partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) of Costa Rica, the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project will organise a series of activities and consultations, called “Path towards mainstreaming biodiversity in Costa Rica National Policy”, in several innovative formats, respecting the gender equity and equality principles.
The launch ceremony, which was planned for International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2020, was inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada. It was followed by a live speech by the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez. The Ambassador of the European Union to Costa Rica, María Antonia Calvo Puerta, and the Deputy Manager of the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project, Hugo Rivera Mendoza, also spoke on this occasion. It was followed by an exchange session between the Ministers of Health, Environment and Energy and Tourism on the opportunities of a post-Covid-19 economic recovery favourable to biodiversity, analysing the links between biodiversity, health and tourism. The ceremony was broadcast live on the project website (www.4post2020bd.net) in English and Spanish.
A first webinar on “Setting the national post-2020 ambition”, scheduled for the third week of June, will subsequently engage all the national institutions involved in reflection on the definition of a new ambition for the country for the future Global Biodiversity Framework and the definition of national commitments. This consultation will define the national priorities for the Global Framework with specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound objectives (called “SMART” objectives). It will be a pilot project in terms of mainstreaming climate and biodiversity issues and will structure the definition of a national policy for nature-based solutions, which echoes the theme of the 2020 International Day for Biological Diversity: “Our Solutions are in Nature”.
A second webinar on “Mainstreaming biodiversity in the economic sectors”, scheduled for the third week of July, will mobilise all the socioeconomic sectors to refine their strategies to mainstream biodiversity into sectoral public policies and more effectively mobilise them in order to finance them. It will be preceded by a first online consultation for representatives of the private sector and a second for civil society. They will both provide input for the discussions on sectoral mainstreaming strategies. The objectives of this webinar include improving the integration of ecosystem mapping, knowledge and the evaluation of accounting for ecosystem services with decision-makers.
As soon as the Covid-19 situation is stabilised, a National Biodiversity Congress will gather 300 participants from sectoral institutions and ministries, the private sector and civil society. It will aim to promote the sharing of perspectives and facilitate new technical and financial resources by building capacities and combining viewpoints. Five parallel thematic sessions will focus on the link between protected areas and nature conservation, nature-based solutions, the mobilisation of the financial sector to protect nature, the sustainable use of biodiversity, institutional strengthening and, finally, public policies. Furthermore, a high-level ministerial segment to discuss opportunities for strengthening the crosscutting mainstreaming of biodiversity into sectoral policies is also planned.
Finally, a final workshop will be organised at the end of 2020 to prepare the national delegation of Costa Rica to the CBD and strengthen its negotiating capacity and ability to raise the level of ambition of the CBD negotiations by developing strategic alliances and consolidating a regional strategy.
The collective intelligence and innovative spirit deployed by Costa Rica through this cycle of activities lead the way for the transformational change required in relationships between people and nature. The Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project will work to promote these dynamics and this ambition for biodiversity beyond borders in the arena of international negotiations, so that nature can take care of itself and, in return, protect people in these times of global crisis.
Linkedin : 4Post2020BD
 The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) is an unofficial coalition of countries that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which formed a negotiating group at COP21. It is determined to raise the level of ambition in 2020 through enhanced national climate commitments, strengthened short-term action and long-term emission reduction strategies. On 12 December 2018, a declaration by this group was signed by 24 countries, including Costa Rica, the European Union and France.
 The acronym SMART is often used to describe the objectives of the next Global Biodiversity Framework.