The sounds of the beating drums echoed loud in the heart of the Pyeongchang mountains in Korea on the 6th of October 2014, which marked the official opening of the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-12) under the theme of “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”.
Despite the loud beats of the drums from within the conference hall, the voice of the people of Pyeongchang rang loud as they stood outside the conference venue in protest of the Korean government’s decision. This decision is currently in process and will result in the wiping out a 500 year old forest that has been part of this region for centuries for a 3 day event, this comes as part of the development plans aligned with the preparations to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Ironically this comes at a time when biodiversity’s future is being held in a host country that is about to destroy a forest habitat to rare and endangered species.
Inside the venue, the conference commenced with India handing over the COP Presidency to Korea as delegates from 196 countries gathered to discuss the future of biodiversity along with inter-governmental organisations, members from civil society in addition to many other representative groups such as youth, indigenous people and women.
The opening also witnessed the official launch of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) report. The GBO4 is the publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is a periodic report that summarizes the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity along with drawing conclusions relevant to the further implementation of the Convention.
COP-12 is expected to adopt a “Pyeongchang Road Map” to enhance the implementation for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the achievement of the Aichi biodiversity targets. Following the opening ceremony, countries began their two-week journey by giving in their country’s opening statement. GYBN also delivered its first intervention where it urged parties to overcome differences and national interests and to work together to achieve the Aichi Targets to halt the loss of biodiversity.
COP-12 will be discussing the mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, development of further tools and guidance where necessary in addition to the review of updated National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), biodiversity and sustainable development, resource mobilization among other issues. The negotiations are now ready to begin with all geared up with what is expected to be a very hectic two weeks.
GYBN’s members Reem Al Mealla (Bahrain) and MinJae (Korea) delivering the first intervention on behalf of youth at the opening ceremony.