Born free cautiously welcomes cop15 declaration on biodiversity protection

18th October 2021


Whilst the high-level declaration is welcome, greater international action is needed to halt and reverse nature’s decline.

Two blue and yellow parrots are inside a cage. They are climbing up and biting the bars. One parrot is in full view and the other is higher up so only the tail is visible.

Born Free cautiously welcomes the Kunming Declaration adopted by over 100 Ministers who attended the hybrid High Level Segment at part I of the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD CoP15) on 12-13 October.

With species declining at unprecedented rates and ecosystems rapidly degrading worldwide, the need to address the biodiversity crisis has never been more urgent. 

Born Free’s International policy specialist Adeline Lerambert said: “Creating political momentum and strong government commitments, alongside increased public awareness at a global level, are among the key ingredients necessary to effectively address the biodiversity crisis.”

The Kunming Declaration demonstrates worldwide support for the level of ambition that needs to be reflected in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. It addresses key elements needed for a successful new framework: the mainstreaming of biodiversity across all decision-making; phasing out and redirection of harmful subsidies; strengthening of the rule of law; enhancing One Health and other holistic approaches; encouraging the mobilisation of adequate finance resources; and ensuring an effective mechanism to monitor and review progress, among others.

However, major gaps remain, including the lack of recognition of the importance of animal welfare in the context of biodiversity protection and sustainable development.  

The current Framework still fails to acknowledge the brutal reality of the capture, breeding, trade, and consumption of wild animals that are so intimately linked with human access to living resources, and risk undermining the ambition of truly sustainable development. Recognising the importance of animal welfare, and incorporating mechanisms into our wildlife management practices that fully account for the welfare and well-being of animals, should be an essential pillar of the One Health approach. To this end, Born Free has been consistently promoting the adoption of One Welfare, which offers broader strategic opportunities and solutions to address the common drivers of biodiversity loss, climate change, negative health and well-being outcomes and increased zoonotic disease risk.

Overexploitation of wild animals has clearly been identified among the main drivers of wildlife decline. Yet in the latest version of the Framework, notions of sustainability are incorporated in a way that perpetuates the maltreatment of animals by reinforcing their status as mere commodities. The need to protect non-human animals only stretches as far as maintaining their population sizes to enable continued consumption by people, and the Goals and Targets are framed solely around meeting people’s needs. The definition of ‘sustainable use’ should account for the intrinsic value of animals and acknowledge the need for biological and ecological sustainability, which allows for recovery of natural processes and safeguards against loss of ecosystem integrity.

The Global Biodiversity Framework, which will effectively establish international policy in relation to nature and wildlife for the coming decades, must prioritise the elimination of threats to biodiversity and its active conservation and restoration, with a view to halting biodiversity loss and ensuring its long-term recovery; only then, through the re-establishment of healthy ecosystems containing healthy wildlife populations, can the needs of people be sustainably met.

Born Free will continue to engage with CBD Parties towards the adoption of a truly ambitious and transformative new Global Biodiversity Framework at part II of CoP15 in Spring 2022.

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