At Convention on Biological Diversity, CI Has a Seat at the Table

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez representing Costa Rica at the CBD.

This past week, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) negotiations here in Nagoya have been very active as we prepare for the arrival of high-level ministers from countries around the world to finalize an ambitious international treaty for long-term biodiversity conservation.

Many Conservation International (CI) staff, including myself, are able to play a unique role in shaping the negotiations. Not only are many of us employees of CI, but we also sit on country delegations directly involved in the treaty negotiations. I am sitting on the delegation from Costa Rica, while some of my colleagues are representing Ecuador, Brazil, Japan, Philippines and Indonesia, to name a few. Several other CI representatives are also here helping to educate a variety of other country delegations by providing critical scientific and policy advice.

During negotiations on one aspect of the Strategic Plan—the list of post-2010 biodiversity conservation targets that will be the final outcome of the conference—there was disagreement among the negotiators around the species extinction target. I volunteered to lead discussions amongst a smaller group and make a proposal to the larger group. During these side discussions, I was joined by a few other key negotiators to lead this group to agreement around an ambitious new target calling for the prevention of extinction of threatened species around the world! This target was then accepted by the other delegates—and now awaits final approval.

Out of the 20 targets under negotiation, there is general agreement on approximately half of them, which undoubtedly means good news for nature. As a team, we are all working hard to make more progress this coming week—especially on the all important “Target 11,” which states our goal of protecting 25 percent of terrestrial and freshwater areas and 15 percent of marine areas by 2020.

Any meeting involving many countries trying to agree on collective actions is a complicated and demanding process, and those of us here in Nagoya have had our share of sleepless nights. Yet I am confident that CI’s efforts this past year have added many good ideas to this international discussion—and people seem to be listening.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez is the vice president of conservation policy at CI. He is also the former environment and energy minister of Costa Rica, and is currently serving on the Costa Rican national delegation at the CBD.

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