Tag Archive for: GBF

BFBI Platform Lead Lucy Gaffney writes: It was a great privilege to attend COP15 at the  Palais des Congrès in Montréal for the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties last December. This was the first COP I’ve ever been to so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

The trip was funded by the wonderful team at the National Parks and Wildlife Service and facilitated by our colleagues at the CoHab Initiative. I was representing Business for Biodiversity Ireland with the primary aims of learning, networking and building on our existing links within the Business and Biodiversity space.

I focused on attending sessions that were a part of the Business and Biodiversity Forum on the 12th and 13th of December. These sessions covered topics like ‘Greening Value Chains’ and ‘Valuing Nature in Decision-Making’. The Finance-centred day on the 14th saw Mark Carney of GFANZ take the stage to talk about making the most of the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework for financial decision-making.

Woman and two men smile  at event

Lucy at Cop in Canada in December with Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert and, right, EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform’s Yann Verstraeten

I had the great pleasure of meeting Ryan Gellert, the CEO of Patagonia at an inspiring side event detailing the collaboration between the governments of Albania, Greece and Macedonia and their commitment to conserve the Vjosa-Aoos river system, Europe’s last wild river. I also got the chance to speak to Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan and discuss his continued support of the Business for Biodiversity Ireland platform.

5 key takeaways from COP15:


1. Harmful subsidies need to be identified and phased out (GBF, Target 18). Governments are still spending in excess of $500bn annually on subsidies for agriculture, forestry and fishing that incentivise environmentally harmful activities. The CBD called for governments to assess their potentially harmful subsidies and the OECD produced guidelines for this but governments were non responsive. We need to identify and reform these subsidies to incentivise nature protection and restoration, ensuring that key stakeholders are strongly engaged in this process.


2. Consumers must understand their role in the biodiversity crisis. We need to adopt a whole-of-society approach to addressing biodiversity loss and this translates to an immediate need to urgently and accurately inform the general public about the key issues (as we would in any other emergency) , how consumption behaviour compounds the crisis and how information and a shift in consumer demand will be a significant catalyst for change.


3. Data and finance are available to enable the nature restoration agenda. There is lots of nature data out there but it is scattered and fragmented. There is an abundance of finance out there but it is being channelled into the wrong places. The funding gap for biodiversity is estimated at around $700bn per year, less than the average global spend on soft drinks or the annual spend of the US military. There is work to do to create good financial flows but the capital is there.


4. We need to disrupt and transform the way we do business (GBF Target 15). Through mandatory assessment and disclosure of impacts and dependencies, meaningful biodiversity strategies and science-based targets. Voluntary action is not enough, action needs to mandated. Businesses need to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, rather than waiting around for the perfect metric. There will be a certain amount of learning-by-doing and businesses need to be courageous and innovative in their approach. Sustainability will redefine what it means to have a competitive advantage in the next decade.


5. Our current food systems are fragile. The way we use our land and grow our food has resulted in 3bn people being undernourished, 1bn people being malnourished (from eating poor quality processed foods) and all the while 30% of our food is wasted. Our current systems are not capable of feeding the global population of 8bn. There will be 9bn people to feed in 2037 and if the food systems are not transformed, there will be a massive global food crisis in the next 15–20 years. Our food systems are subject to water and thermal stresses and we have no mitigation or transition plan in place to deal with the extreme problems that lie ahead.

Finally, delighted to have met Kevin O’Sullivan, Science Editor from the Irish Times where he included quotes from some of our discussions in Montreal. You can read the article HERE

COP15 in under way in Montreal, Canada and Ireland has sent a delegation to attend these negotiations that will hopefully deliver a plan to address global biodiversity loss.

The talks are centred around the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which consists of 21 targets that will not only support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but will serve to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

We have eight years to halt the destruction of our natural world or it might reach a state where is becomes beyond repair. So why is COP15 and the GBF important for business in Ireland?

Of the 21 GBF targets, the business community should be tuned into two specifically:


Target 15: All businesses (public and private, large, medium and small) assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, from local to global, and progressively reduce negative impacts, by at least half and increase positive impacts, reducing biodiversity-related risks to businesses and moving towards the full sustainability of extraction and production practices, sourcing and supply chains, and use and disposal.

This essentially means that all Irish businesses, from your local hairdresser to global multinationals operating within the state will now have to understand how their actions and activities impact on nature. How do they contribute to pollution? How are they using land? Does the business contribute to or facilitate the introduction of invasive species? What is their contribution to climate change? Does the business drive the over-exploitation of natural resources?

They will also have to appreciate how their business depends on the natural world, and how the degradation of nature may pose risks to their ability to continue operating. Furthermore, Irish businesses will be expected to develop a strategy and action plan to reduce their negative impacts by half and start the healing process by investing in nature restoration.

Target 18: Redirect, repurpose, reform or eliminate incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least US$500billion per year, including all of the most harmful subsidies, and ensure that incentives, including public and private economic and regulatory incentives, are either positive or neutral for biodiversity.

In 2019, the Irish Government spent €4.1bn on environmentally damaging subsidies (Lee, 2019). These included subsidising the use of fossil fuels to the tune of €2.5bn, and €1.5bn to support agricultural activities that could cause significant environmental damage.

For example, rather than providing low income households with fossil fuel subsidies, that money would be much better spent retrofitting older properties to become more energy efficient. Most of the environmentally damaging subsidies are disguised as zero or low tax rates which incentivise the use of a potentially damaging commodity like chemical fertilisers.

Follow our various social media channels for more updates from COP15, its outcomes and aftermath.

LinkedIn / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram