2007 ended with drama for those who follow the international environmental policymaking process, with the US reversal of position during the closing plenary of the December UN Climate Change Conference clearing the way for agreement on the Bali “roadmap.” We look forward to the debates as delegates shape climate change policy for the post-2012 period, but the 2008 agenda also offers many opportunities to identify and build on linkages and lessons between various issue areas and multilateral environmental agreements (MEA).
The Convention on Biological Diversity’s May Conference of the Parties (COP) will discuss, for example, linkages between biodiversity and climate change as well as agricultural biodiversity and dry and sub-humid lands. This COP will follow immediately after the Commission on Sustainable Development’s (CSD) May review of the latter two issues. The CSD’s discussions will offer further opportunities to identify linkages, with its consideration of desertification presenting an opportunity to examine this issue’s connections with sustainable land management, which will inevitably bring the discussion back to the linkages between desertification and climate change mitigation and adaptation. The 4th Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands will be organized around the theme Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change, while the CBD COP will also consider the biodiversity of inland waters, which may feed into discussions at the Ramsar COP in October-November 2008, and so on.
Also on the CBD COP agenda are incentive measures, reflecting the growing interest in identifying the value of ecosystem services and the costs of not taking protective action. The EU has launched a process of analyzing the global economic benefit of biological diversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity, and the cost of failure to take action compared to the cost of effective conservation, to feed into this discussion. This study is based on the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, which the UK commissioned in 2006 to examine the costs of unabated climate change and the costs of abatement. The CBD may draw on the climate change model in other respects as well, particularly in its consideration of developing a Biodiversity Technology Initiative to follow the model of the Climate Technology Initiative. Lessons to be shared among multilateral environmental agreements will inevitably be drawn during the September 2008 Meeting of the Parties to what many refer to as the most successful MEA: the Montreal Protocol. Also in September, the 29th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will celebrate the IPCC’s 20th anniversary, is likely to attract attention as the standard for how science-based advice should be developed for policy makers. The International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) process, which concluded its 2007 consultations with the recommendation for further consideration of the establishment of a science-policy interface, represents one process that is considering this model.
As we have since 1992, we will be there recording the debates and facilitating your efforts to develop issue linkages and identify lessons learned. Happy New Year.