About Sustainability…

Convention on Biological Diversity

March 22, 2022 Season 1 Episode 3
About Sustainability…
Convention on Biological Diversity
Show Notes Transcript

This time Erin, Bob, and Simon talked to Andre about the Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD, and the upcoming 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (CBD-COP15). This meeting is expected to be held in Kunming later in 2022. The conversation touched upon the purposes of the CBD and who its members are. Andre also explained the CBD’s mandate and how it compares to other related processes. 

They also talked about the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that is supposed to replace these targets. The discussion also touched upon the differences between the biodiversity COP and the more famous and more frequent climate COP. 

The episode also touched upon the concept of ecosystem services, which are the ways in which nature enables us to live and thrive. Here, Andre offered a perspective on which services we may undervalue and should focus more on.

About this podcast:
 

"About Sustainability..." is a podcast brought to you by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), an environmental policy think-tank based in Hayama, Japan. IGES experts are concerned with environmental and sustainability challenges including, but not limited to, climate change; biodiversity and ecosystems; sustainable consumption and production; the Sustainable Development Goals; and overarching governance issues. Harnessing this expertise, the podcast serves to discuss and draw attention to contemporary issues and events relevant to sustainability with a frank reflective discussion from both within and beyond the Institute.

Everything shared on the podcast will be off-the-cuff discussion, and any viewpoints expressed are those held by the speaker at the time of recording. They are not necessarily official IGES positions.

Hello there. Welcome to another episode of About Sustainability…, a podcast brought to you from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. IGES is an environmentally oriented policy think tank based in coastal Hayama, Japan. My name is Erin Kawazu and I am your co-host along with André Mader, Bob McDonald and Simon Olsen. This session, we talked about the Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD. Bob, Simon, and I picked And ré's brain, Since André is most familiar with the CBD and the upcoming biodiversity conference known as CBD-COP15. This conference is expected to be held in Kunming, China later in 2022. We talked about what the CBD is, who has ratified it and who hasn't, and what this all means. We learned about CBD's mandate and how it compares to other related processes. We learned about where the world is at in terms of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which outline how countries are expected to address biodiversity loss. The Aichi Targets were concluded in 2020, and we're waiting for the world to come together to approve the post- 2020 global biodiversity framework at the CBD-COP, which has unfortunately been delayed repeatedly. We also speculated on the differences between the biodiversity COP and the more famous and more frequent climate COP. We discussed as well more generally about ecosystem services, which are basically the ways in which nature enables us to live and thrive. André offered a perspective on which services we undervalue and should focus more on. It definitely got me thinking and I hope that this discussion will get you thinking, too. Let's get into it. So today, we're going to talk about the CBD. CBD is an acronym that a lot of people are getting acquainted with. But this is not the CBD that we're going to be talking about today. We're going to be talking about another CBD, much more relevant to sustainability. So André is well acquainted with this CBD and so we will be asking him what it's all about and why it's important to us. So André, what is the CBD? Okay. So CBD stands for the Convention on Biological Diversity, and it is a multilateral environmental agreement - so the environmental agreement between various governments. There are 196, all of which are national governments, except for one, the EU, which has its own party status in addition to all the EU members. It's a sister convention to the climate convention, the UNFCCC and the Desertification Convention, the UNCCD. All three of them came out of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the CBD in particular is the main MEA (Multilateral Environmental Agreement) that deals with life on Earth, with biodiversity, although there are a few others that deal with more specific aspects of biodiversity. Okay. So what is the CBD really trying to do? What is their mandate? Well, there are three objectives. First is the conservation of biodiversity. The second is the sustainable use of biodiversity. And the third is the equitable sharing of the benefits of biodiversity. And that third one specifies genetic biodiversity, because that's kind of the most important issue when it comes to the sharing of benefits. And then there are also two protocols to the convention, both of which in different ways relate to the third objective of the CBD. And then those objectives are - not really fine-tuned, but - every so often a strategic plan is developed as guidance to the parties for their own national level plans and strategies. Those strategies sort of elaborate on those core objectives. But what is the ultimate goal? What are we trying to achieve collectively for for biodiversity? Yeah, well, the CBD originated out of a concern for the loss of biodiversity, which by the 90s was already looking pretty bad, you know, because of rapid industrialisation and rapid growth of population and and of consumption patterns, especially in the developed world, actually. The CBD was developed to address that crisis, basically- what was seen as a crisis. And so it's a way of convening countries to agree on ways of doing that. And that strategic plan that I mentioned is a way of creating a framework that can be used by countries at the national level. So it provides quite broad level goals and targets. And the idea is for the individual governments who themselves, you know, came together to develop that. The idea is for them to take that and apply it to the national level and kind of fine- tune it so that it suits their national context. And then perhaps equally or even more importantly for that national level plan to then trickle down to the subnational level, because the strategy side of things works at the international and national level, but the action plan, when it gets down to exactly who is going to do what and by when - that's what happens at the at the local level, perhaps at the level of a municipality or a national park or some other protected area. The Convention on Biodiversity - Convention, I guess this means this is a direct treaty or a direct agreement between countries. This is not a UN related … I get confused about what's UN and what isn't UN. -Yeah. -And so I guess I'm asking where this came from. Right. Yeah. No, it is it is a UN convention. -Okay. -Basically under the UNEP umbrella (the United Nations Environment Programme). And how many countries have signed on to the CBD? The convention itself has 196 parties, including the EU. But then the protocols that I mentioned earlier on have fewer signatories, certainly well over 100 for both of them, but I forget the exact numbers. Is 196 is that every country in the world? Almost. So it excludes the Holy See, that's the Vatican basically, and the USA. So that's the kind of big gap in the convention. Why has the US not signed? Yes, for pretty complicated reasons. The US was a big part of the establishment of the convention, in the lead up to 1992. But then when it came time to sign, there was basically an internal disagreement and. As far as I understand, the the US requires two-thirds of the Senate to sign off on something like- Okay so they signed but didn't ratify didn't didn't make it through the Senate. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. So signing by itself doesn't really mean very much. Well I guess it indicates that at least the, the ruling party in that case was willing to to go ahead. But as it was, most of the opposition, unsurprisingly, came from the opposite party, which was the Republican Party in this case. So Bill Clinton signed it, but he couldn't get it through the procedures that they needed to follow after that internally. And it hasn't been reattempted really since then. The US is still actively participating in the meetings that are going on? The way that decisions are reached is that, a Party has to make a suggestion of some kind of change to text or an addition to text, and then that will only make its way through to a decision if it's agreed upon by all of the other Parties. Observers can take the floor, but their input doesn't need to be decided on, but what sometimes happens is that an NGO or other Observer will make a suggestion, and then all that needs to happen for that to have to go further is for a single Party to agree with it or support it. And then from then on, it has to be it has to be debated and everyone has to agree either to include or exclude or change in some way. It's complete consensus to move anything forward. To make a decision, everyone has to agree. Does that happen? -Yeah. -I can imagine that there must be a lot of pre negotiations, but that seems like it would- That's a high bar. Yeah. It's quite surprising how how much parties do agree on. I mean, negotiations go on into the early hours of the morning, especially as the COP -which we should actually probably define - as the COP kind of draws to a close these meetings get later and later into the into the night. But there's kind of a spirit of willingness to come to a conclusion. But I guess what it means is that if it were, you know, 51% majority that was required, then you'd probably see very different kinds of text than you actually do see. How much would you say that you know what the outcome is going to be before the meeting happens ? Like how much of the negotiation has been clearly settled before the discussion starts? I think it really just depends on which text is being debated. You know, there are there are certain usually particular sticking points which, you know, one passage, one paragraph, which might be 1% of the text to be negotiated might take up 10% of the time. So it's not- it's not a proportional thing. And sometimes that text seems to be innocuous, but for some other reason, a Party doesn't want to agree to a particular way of phrasing things. So it is kind of a balancing act between making things strong enough to mean something, but also not too committal that Parties want to shy away from it. You were talking about defining what a COP is, and that's probably a good idea. Yeah, thanks. So COP stands for Conference of the Parties - all the parties together. And these COPS meet every year- or sorry, every two years in the case of the CBD. But the most recent one has been delayed for a year and a half now. So this is kind of an unprecedented delay because of COVID. As far as I understand, the hosts really want to have the meeting in person, so they've actually had the first part of the meeting, but that was just to get some procedural issues out of the way. And the main item on the agenda and which everyone is waiting to happen is the approval of the Global Biodiversity Framework or the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which is the replacement to the strategic plan that I mentioned earlier on. I think that's what we need to get into. But just one last question while we're still on the COPs. So there are several COPs, is that right? COP26, that's a different COP. -Yeah. -Is that right? Yeah, that's right. So probably most members of the public who know what a COP is will assume that it's unique to the climate convention because the climate convention has so much higher profile than any of the other conventions. But there are many conventions, and each of them or many of them have a COP. Sometimes they have a different name as well. So Conference of the Parties is actually not the entire term. It's Conference of the Parties to the CBD, in this case. So the CBD has these every two years or the UNFCCC (the Climate COP) has it every year and then others have their intervals, usually one year or two years. Do you think it makes a difference whether it's conducted every two years or one year? Do you think it's a capacity issue or optimal that way? Maybe climate change is more important than biodiversity . [laughs] Yeah, You know, when we spoke previously about this, I sort of speculated that it was maybe because the climate COP just has more funds to make this happen, because it does require a lot of resources - human resources, especially - to make it happen every year. And I also mentioned that having worked at the CBD for just over four years, to me, it seemed like we were constantly preparing for COPs and that was every two years. So I could hardly imagine having to do it every year. I can hardly imagine having time for anything else. But I guess that, again, I'm speculating, but I suppose the Climate Convention Secretariat just have resources that they can divide between preparation for the COP and then maybe more substantive issues. But I'm really just speculating there. As far as which is better, I think that two years goes by really quickly. I'm sure there's plenty of reasons for having it every year, but if I was suddenly put in a position where I had to decide, I would probably stick to two years - to every two years. Are the other COPs also requiring complete consensus, 100% consensus to come to a decision? No, they do. I think they do traditionally. -Mm hmm. -But I have heard of some examples where some countries have asked to be excluded from certain paragraphs. -Right. -I think that has happened under the climate convention that a country has done that. I mean, the Party has done that. And then in order to not completely stall the process or in order to not prevent this particular event from having an important outcome, that was noted that there is this country that does not subscribe to this particular item. So we do see that, but rarely. In the CBD as well. So that is kind of one of those last resorts. If the majority of Parties are really stuck to keeping certain text or having text a certain way and there's one or two holdouts, that can be a last resort - just sort of note that these these parties didn't disagree, but they didn't agree either. And then allowing it to go forward. You mentioned the word Secretariat in connection with the COP or things like that. What's that and where are they sitting? Yeah, thanks, Simon, I think it's an important point to note. So you know, there's an emphasis an important emphasis on the Parties (the countries). But the Secretariat is also crucial because they kind of make sure that everything happens. And so this is a group of people - when I was there, it was about 150 people, I think - based in Montreal, in Canada. And their responsibility is- well, it's mostly to make sure that the meetings of the COPs happen smoothly and also the meetings of the subsidiary bodies that that lead up to these COPs. And I can say a bit more about those, if you like, but they also do various other things, including knowledge production. They have a whole technical series, for example, it's on number 100-something now on various different issues. So they do lots of stuff like that. When I was there, I was responsible for the CBD's work with subnational and local governments. My task there was to kind of step up recognition of the important role of subnational governments. And then there's also engagement with business and various other things, which the Secretariat helps. And when I say convening the COPs, I'm talking about also preparing all the documentation. So that's really not just the event organisation, but perhaps the most work involved is preparing the documents for discussion, which then lead to decisions. And the last time I looked, there were about 30 decisions coming out of every COP. They try to keep that number down, but it's usually difficult to reduce that number. So you just mentioned that there are meetings of the COP and also subsidiary bodies. So these subsidiary body meetings are more frequent? What do they discuss? Now the subsidiary body meetings are held annually. -Okay. -And one of them is called SBI (Subsidiary Body on Implementation) of the Convention, which is kind of mostly reviewing progress and implementation. And then the other one is SBSTTA (Subsidiary Body for Technical, Technological and Scientific Advice), and the second one SBSTTA is kind of the more prominent and - I don't know if this is by design or if it just turned out that way - but the role of subsidies to- it's attended by government representatives who have a scientific background basically, or technical / technological background. And the role is to kind of provide that kind of advice to the Parties. And it's in that sense, it actually performed a somewhat similar function to IPBES (the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) that was established in 2012. And there's some overlap between what they do. But IPBES is an independent body. It's also a gathering of countries, of national governments, but it's regarded as independent, whereas the CBD is, as I said, a UN organ of some sort. Okay. So it's similar to the IPCC, but for biodiversity. IPBES is, yes. So just to reiterate, IPBES is completely separate from the CBD, but quite closely involved with it. But yes, it's basically- it's regarded as in some circles, the biodiversity equivalent of the IPCC, which is the Intergovernmental Panel - not "platform" but - Panel on Climate Change. IGES hosts technical support units for both of those, right? That's right. Yeah. So the IPCC Technical Support Unit - they're housed at our headquarters here in Hayama. And then our Tokyo office used to host the Technical Support Unit for the IPBES Assessment for Asia and the Pacific. And then when that came to an end, IGES began hosting the Technical Support Unit for the IPBES assessment on Invasive Alien Species. So the one more or less took over from the other. At the IPBES plenaries, they asked whether any governments are interested in- or any institutions are interested in- hosting these Technical Support Units because the the IPBES secretariat is much, much smaller than the CBD. It's only about ten core staff. And so they need the help of these institutions to host Technical Support Units, which are basically an extension of the Secretariat. May I ask exactly what is it that the IPBES is doing in relation to the CBD, then? I guess it would be the same as [what] the IPCC is doing in relation to the UNFCCC. But actually to be frank, I'm not 100% sure what it is, what role they play. They have different functions, but by far the most prominent and I think most important is the production of assessments. IPBES has been running assessments usually at the global level and sometimes at the regional level - assessments of the state of biodiversity and the drivers of biodiversity loss and the scenarios for future solutions and policy options and all these different things. And these assessments are- there's no empirical research involved at all here- it's simply a case of gathering everything that's known already and putting it in one place. And then because of the profile of IPBES, it's kind of earned itself a global name very quickly, actually, I think partly thanks to the IPCC, but because of its its status or its profile, governments have very quickly started considering these to be the reports to consider when they're looking at the situation. The drawback is that, because they're done at a global or regional level, the resolution is a bit coarse. The information is seldom provided at a country level. So just a quick question before we kind of go back to the CBD: for IPBES assessments, are they also approved by the government ? Because I understand that with IPCC, governments have to okay it. Yeah, yeah, that's exactly right. Yeah. So the IPBES - they don't have COPs, but they have Plenary meeting or meetings of the Plenary. It's not really the "event", but it's the- it's the being together of all those countries and at the IPBES Plenaries which are also held every year under normal circumstances, they will also go through various decisions, usually a far smaller number than the CBD. But whenever there's an assessment to be approved, typically that will take centre stage in the negotiations. The IPBES reports are several hundred pages long, like the IPCC reports. -Mm hmm. -But each of them has a Summary for Policymakers or an SPM, and it's the text of SPM that is checked word by word in Plenary. And so the assumption is that if the SPM text is okay, or if the SPM text is changed, then that change needs to be reflected in the document itself later. But there's simply no time to negotiate hundreds of pages of text. So instead they're negotiating about 50 pages of text. And then there's a decision attached to that. Can you maybe elaborate on some of the advantages, also challenges on having to politically comment on something that should be a compilation of scientific findings? It must create some tension. My experience has been that, there's kind of a goodwill effort really to get the best reports out in the end. And although there's a huge amount of rephrasing of text, it's quite seldom that you see anyone challenging a fact, a figure- a fact or a figure about the state of biodiversity. It's usually just the way that things are phrased that is discussed and usually not really with political implications, but more just trying to make it clear. So that is there's kind of generally a goodwill among the Parties. I'm going back to the CBD. Let's talk a little bit about the next COP. When is it happening? What should we be looking out for? And yeah. Anything you can tell us about that at this point? It was due to happen - you know, the going along with the two-year sequence of the COP - it was supposed to happen in October, I think it was, in 2020. And that was obviously already in the thick of COVID-19 and when there was still a huge amount of uncertainty around what was going to happen next. And then it was delayed two or three times. So that's already a year and a half delay. And then as far as what to expect is concerned, this is a particularly important COP because the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework needs to be considered. So that is the main item at the COP. And the last time something like that happened was in 2010 in Japan, actually, when the COP was in Nagoya - that was COP10. And that was when the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 - 2020 was up for discussion and it was adopted. And that's also referred to as the Aichi Targets on Biodiversity? No, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are part of the Strategic Plan. -Okay. -And so those targets four and five goals and then overarching those goals are a vision and a mission. But really the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are kind of the meat of the Strategic Plan and the parts that people are familiar with- those who are familiar with the plan are going to be familiar with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. So the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, or GBF for short, is the successor to the Strategic Plan 2011 - 2020, and that's already been discussed in a lot of detail at a bunch of mostly online meetings, including SBSTTA and SBI meetings over the past couple of years. But it's not finalised because it needs to happen at the COP itself. And in fact, I should just mention that this is actually the second part of the COP. Like UNEA, which had a 5.1 and a 5.2, this COP has a part one and part two. But part one was just - which has already happened -that was really just to get a few procedural matters out of the way. It's interesting that different international processes are kind of following the same model during this time. Yeah, yeah. So you said that the previous version of this was called a Strategic Plan, and this one is called a Framework. Is there a particular reason for that change? There may be, Bob, but I don't think there's anything really fundamental that's different about them. It's really just kind of a reevaluation of where we're at and where we need to be. The structure is different. There's quite a well-deveoped draft already out of the GBF. There are 21 targets so there is some reformulisation and shifting around. And there's also kind of a parallel set of goals and milestones. Can I ask what the difference between a goal and a target is? In the strategic plan, the targets were kind of sub-goals. There were five goals and within each of those there was a target. So the one was just more specific than the other. But with the GBF, you've got the milestones as a subset of the goals and then you've got the targets completely separately, just a set of 21 targets in three different areas. So yeah, it's quite a lot more complex. And then with the SDGs, you have goals and indicators. Yeah, indicators is something else, actually. Simon, do you want to jump in there? Otherwise I can- Yeah, sure. You have goals, targets and indicators. GTIs, right?

And goals:

at least for the case of the Sustainable Development Goals, the goals are not necessarily quantifiable or quantified. They just say where we want to go at quite high level, and then the targets break that down. And there's been- there was a big attempt to keep the target as SMART as possible, which is supposed to mean "specific"- They should be "specific", they should be "measurable", they should be "achievable, but also ambitious" and R is for "realistic" and T is for "time-bound". So you have the whole thing about the SMART targets, but in reality, of course, it was a very political process. So some of them aren't as SMART as they could be, but that's- that is what a target should be. And then an indicator then is simply the measure. So how do you actually measure it, you know, -How do you know that it's making progress? -How do you know you're making progress? Proportion of people that have finished high school, for example. Are there indicators with this framework? Yes. And they're still being developed as well. That's all sort of in draft form. We were just talking about SDGs and these goals, and I know the SDGs cover some parts that definitely overlap with this area. What is the purpose of having both? Yeah, so SDG 14 and 15 are on Life under Water and Life on Land, respectively. So two of the 17 SDGs are very specifically biodiversity-oriented. But it's hard to really answer this. You know that the biodiversity convention, the CBD, was established specifically to deal with biodiversity. And then the whole idea behind the SDGs was to kind of cover everything. So there's just inevitable overlap. You can't really talk about sustainability without talking about biodiversity- or it's not going to be a complete discussion without without biodiversity. So there are probably conventions or similar agreements on virtually all of the SDGs, most of which, if not all of which pre-date the SDGs. But they're all specifically looking into the details. And I think that partly explains why the SDGs are more of a kind of mainstream idea than the content of these conventions. When we spoke previously, I mentioned that the CBD - and I think the same is true for other conventions - they are aimed mostly at policymakers. The ultimate aim is to provide some kind of framework for how planning could be done at the national level. So it's quite planning- oriented really, whereas the SDGs are kind of more of an all- encompassing concept, an awareness-raising concept for all sectors of society. It's a lot more complex than that, but maybe that's a short way of answering the question. So you mentioned that the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is not that different from the Strategic Plan from 2011 to 2020, right? So first, I want to know where we're at in terms of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. -Mm hmm. -And then I also want to know, why bother making a new set of targets or framework if it's not so different? First of all, as far as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are concerned, it's been quite widely publicised that none of the 20 targets were completely reached, which sounds pretty dismal, but there was quite a lot of progress made towards quite a few of them. And so the trends are, to some extent, getting better- or in some areas, the trends are getting better. But overall, you know, it was not successful, but the compilation of a new set of targets, it's kind of a taking stock exercise, seeing "how can we train things a little bit differently, and also how can we renew countries commitments to those to those targets?" So it's partly to kind of mark the occasion, you know, to have this new framework, like "Okay, we're going to try this now". But there are also sort of certain focus areas. Probably the most well-known of these is the "30 by 30" target which is not- which did not originate in the GBF. It was actually originated in a scientific paper that was sort of taken up by the people drafting the GBF. And this is the idea of achieving 30% protection of the earth, both sea and land surface, by the year 2030. So this is kind of also what happens with these things, I guess, is that certain elements, you know, take on a life of their own to some extent and become emblematic of the initiative as a whole. In this case, that is probably the the part of the framework which has gained the most attention. It's kind of like with IPBES as well. You know, for the global assessment, which was completed I think in 2019, there's a huge amount of information there and it's close to a thousand pages of text, but the one sort of headline that anyone who knows about it knows is the statement that close to a million species are threatened with extinction. So that's kind of- that's what I mean by taking on a life of its own. A certain element or certain fact or something, you know, stands out and then kind of represents the whole endeavor. And that's- I mean, yeah, I'm going into my own speculation a little bit, but that's a double-edged sword because if you're really accurate and if it is really emblematic, then that's great. That's exactly what you want. But if it's- if it's not very representative of the whole thing or if it's not- if there's some important nuance that's lost, then obviously there are problems - you know, people perceiving what's being said. And I'm not saying that's the case with either of these, but there's always a danger. Right. When you say "nuance", I hear recently from discussions around UNEP, I hear a lot of discussions around the terms of "biodiversity", "environment" and "nature". And it's kind of hard for me to figure out where one starts and the other one stops. And in fact, I hear quite a lot of opposition to introducing the term "nature". And I was just wondering if you could just share your views on those types of- well, on these terms and how they are used. Yeah, it's a really big, big discussion that it can go in so many different directions. But in the term "biodiversity" - which has been around for a few decades now - that was developed to express what was considered possibly the most important aspect of nature, which is the fact that there are so many species, so many genes, so many ecosystems. What an incredible diversity of of species at different levels there is. But then the pushback in the especially in the early days of using the term was that it's a complicated term. It's too technical. You know, it's not very well understood and it's quite easy to define briefly. But then when you start getting into the detail, it gets a little bit more complicated. For example, when you're talking about biodiversity conservation, which in many cases has taken the place of nature conservation, even though perhaps nature conservation is a more accurate term, you might get in some cases, advocates for the number of species, the richness of species of an area, right, that's what's important to them. And for others, it might be more a case of wildlife. You know, they might be concerned about specific species like in the savannahs of Africa, the elephants and lions and rhinos and that kind of thing. That's really what's- what's important. But that's not really the same as biodiversity. Right? -Right. -Kind of reminds me of what I learned in school, where there's a difference between protection and conservation of nature. And I think you have different views on that. So can you kind of define for us, you know, what we're meant to do with respect to the 30 by 30 target? You said protection of areas. So what does that really mean exactly? First of all, just to distinguish between - or maybe not distinguish between - conservation and protection, you know, it is largely a semantic difference. It's my definition would be conservation is more of a general purpose term, which means managing for nature, essentially. -Okay. -Whereas protection typically or usually expresses a category and that category is not globally agreed upon, but there is sort of a- there's a loose global idea of what "protected" is and what "protected" isn't. So it depends on the laws of the country. But IUCN have developed a system of categorisation of protected areas. They have five different categories. And depending on how "pristine" or how close to wilderness the area is, it'll be more on one side of the spectrum. And then on the other side of the spectrum you'll have areas which are multi-purpose. They'll be used for perhaps low- impact agriculture or even human settlement, as well as protection. But then in addition to this, just to make things slightly more complicated, that 30 by 30 target is not just about protected areas, because even though those categories are fairly broad and the one end of that spectrum is pretty flexible in terms of what can be included, despite that, it would be very difficult to get to that target if you restricted it to protected areas within those categories. So there's been discussion about other effective area based conservation measures or OECMs. And so this has been kind of on the table for a while and that seems to be because of the 30 by 30 discussion - it's gaining more prominence. And these are basically areas which are considered to contribute to protection of nature without being protected areas. -Mm hmm. -Well, it will simply differ from country to country, because that's the other layer of complexity - to add to that is different systems of protection within the country. But there will be some discussion about OECMs at the next COP as well, related to the GBF. Can you define OECM one more time? OECM stands for other effective area- based conservation measures. So the "area- based" is important. That means, you know, a piece of land or sea, but it's outside of protected areas. So it's not, for some other reason, it's not formally recognised as protected. So I guess you could imagine a country, especially one which is very serious about applying these different protected area categories correctly, they might have recognised a particular area as being very conservation-worthy, and it's, you know, because of the activities there, perhaps a socio-ecological production landscape or seascape, for example, where people are farming an area, but they're doing it in a way which really benefits biodiversity more than if they if they weren't there, or if something else was there. But for some other reason, it would not be appropriate to just declare that a protected area. Perhaps the people involved wouldn't want it to be declared a protected area. In that case, it could be an OECM and there's no kind of legal mechanism protecting it, but it's performing the function of protecting biodiversity or nature in some way. I think you also said IUCN, and I'm not sure if we defined that one. Yeah, so the IUCN is the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That's one of the biggest and oldest conservation organisations. I just wanted to get your perspectives on ecosystem services. Mm hmm. I think it's really harder for people, especially those living in urban areas, to appreciate what biodiversity and ecosystems do for us. And I know that there are three different types of ecosystem services - well, broad categories. So if you can kind of talk about that a little bit, that'll be great. And what does that mean? What is an ecosystem service? -Right. Mm hmm. Yeah. Okay, I'll start with that, with what an ecosystem service is. There are different ways of formulating this and they're different systems or frameworks for categorising it. But basically, an ecosystem service is it's a function, a natural function of nature, which is useful to human beings in some way or another. Provisioning services is one of the three categories and probably the most well-known system of ecosystem services - provision of materials, wood or fruits or vegetables. And then there are also the some of these are at the level of genes, some at the level of species, some are at the level of ecosystems. But they're all called ecosystem services. And regulatory services are really more at the ecosystem level. They're the way that nature regulates, I guess, flows, you could say. That there could be literal flows of water, like in the case of regulation of stream flow or flooding. For example, if you imagine a landscape full of quite spongy vegetation and then a city just below that and heavy rains falling, the spongy landscape is going to slow the flow of the water down and retain it and slowly release it. Whereas if you had a same sized landscape full of concrete or hard ground of some kind, then that's all going to rush into the city and cause all sorts of management problems and possibly natural disasters. So that's one regulatory example. And then another one would be the climate related. Trees regulate local climate by simply providing shade and by changing reflectance. And then at the global level, trees do contribute to an extent to the reduction of carbon emissions by absorbing carbon out of the atmosphere and fixing it in solid carbon. And then the third sort of major category is cultural services. And that's the way that nature acts as a form of recreation, a form of relaxation, and then also as sort of culturally and religiously going back very far into history. Nature has played a very important role there. Even in Western culture, a lot of it still remains. And then in other cultures which are closer to nature, those traditions are pretty ubiquitous. I'm not an expert, but I can't think of an example of a culture that doesn't have some quite important connection to nature.