The Summit focused on the theme, ‘Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’.
It included two Leaders’ Dialogues on addressing biodiversity loss and mainstreaming biodiversity for sustainable development, and on harnessing science, technology and innovation, capacity building, access and benefit-sharing, financing, and partnerships for biodiversity.
The first UN Biodiversity Summit highlighted the urgency of action at the highest levels in support of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework that contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and places the global community on a path towards “living in harmony with nature” – the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity.
The high-level event convened in the margins of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 30 September, in a socially-distanced UN Headquarters, with Heads of State and Government and ministers joining virtually. The Summit focused on the theme, ‘Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.’
The opening segment included a “fireside chat” between the heads of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). They described biodiversity as a “shock absorber,” and said the time to “pollute our way to wealth” has passed.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said degradation of nature spans economics, social justice, and human rights, and can result in geopolitical tensions and conflicts. Many expressed concern that none of the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets will be met. Speakers warned that biodiversity loss threatens food security, water supplies, and livelihoods, as well as our ability to fight diseases and face extreme events.
Munir Akram, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said political will, not finance, is key to contain “economic greed” and “policy negligence.” UNGA President Volkan Bozkir called on Member States to use the Summit to build political momentum towards a post‑2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the CBD to be held in Kunming, China in 2021. “Kunming must do for biodiversity what Paris did for climate change,” said Bozkir, by placing the biodiversity discourse firmly on the political agenda.
A plenary session followed, during which participants highlighted the connections between biodiversity, societies, and economies.
Two Leaders’ Dialogues focused on addressing biodiversity loss and mainstreaming biodiversity for sustainable development, and on harnessing science, technology and innovation, capacity building, access and benefit-sharing (ABS), financing, and partnerships for biodiversity.