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Geoengineering and the Convention on Biological Diversity

by Nicholas Harrison, C2G2 / June 20, 2018

If geoengineering were ever deployed, it would potentially have major impact on the biological diversity of our planet. 

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – the main intergovernmental agreement established to protect biodiversity – have been addressing geoengineering for 10 years now, steering governments away from geoengineering activities that may be damaging and promoting a better understanding of the impacts such technology developments could have. 

Early next month, C2G2 will be back in Montreal hosting an event with technical and policy experts who make up the CBD’s scientific advisory group (SBSTTA), the leading body charged with providing timely advice on implementation of the Convention.

The event is part of an ongoing collaboration between C2G2 and the Secretariat of the CBD aimed at catalysing learning and sharing of knowledge between Parties, in pursuit of the CBD’s call in 2016 for “more transdisciplinary research and sharing of knowledge about the impact of geoengineering on biodiversity and ecosystems. 

In an earlier event, back in December 2017, we brought together 47 international experts, SBSTTA members and observers for a fascinating day-long workshop to explore how CBD Parties and observers could guide the global geoengineering research agenda and to consider potential future options for governance.

Silvia Riberio of ETC Group presents to SBSTTA workshop participants.

Leading voices from policy, academia, research, civil-society and indigenous people’s groups presented on issues ranging from the design challenges of the latest Harvard University experiments into Solar Geoengineering, to the importance of respecting indigenous people’s traditional knowledge and relationship with Pachamama (‘Mother Earth’).

During two breakout sessions, participants identified a range of transdisciplinary research gaps and governance considerations which you can read more about in the workshop report here 

As the CBD celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, its work has never been more challenging and as pressure on ecosystems across the planet intensifies, its role in promoting nature and human well-being is more important than ever. 

Looking ahead to the next 25 years, as governments develop their plans towards the CBD’s global vision of ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’, learning about the positive or negative impacts that technology developments such as geoengineering may pose, becomes increasingly urgent.  

Developing a better shared understanding of the potential impacts of geoengineering and the best options for its governance is an important next step towards this vision, and one C2G2 is glad to be supporting. 

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