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Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance

Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use  – What Can Law & Governance Contribute?

During the 14th Conference of the Parties (CoP) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 23 November 2018, the Centre for Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Governance (CEENRG) at the University of Cambridge, the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo and the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), in partnership with the CBD Secretariat and alongside organizational and educational partners from across the globe, convened over 100 negotiators, deans and professors, general counsels, arbitrators, experts, policy-makers, practitioners, stakeholders and students from law, governance and other fields, in order to scale up efforts to address the main drivers of biodiversity loss, implement the Strategic Plan 2020 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through legal and institutional measures. As the 2nd biennial Biodiversity Law and Governance Day (BLGD), this event generated rich and substantive exchange, focused on dialogue, engagement and action.

To focus the discussion and dialogue generated throughout the day, the main themes for BLGD 2018 were 1) mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors of law; 2) legal tools to achieve Strategic Plan 2020 and beyond; 3) legal measures to implement the Nagoya Protocol; and 4) enhancing synergies between biodiversity treaties and instruments. As a result, BLGD 2018 acted as a catalyst for knowledge exchange and the generation of new synergies between participants and for the future.

During BLGD 2018, CEENRG Fellow and CISDL Senior Director Prof. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, as Full Professor of Law in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at uWaterloo hosted a plenary session,  Legal Aspects of Implementing Biodiversity Accords for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This session examined key issues facing CoP 14 and beyond, such as how international treaties on biodiversity contribute to achieving the global SDGs, how legal and institutional reform supports implementation of these accords, and key trends, challenges and most promising innovations in these areas. This session featured excellent discussions from Prof. Jorge Cabrera, CISDL Lead Counsel for Biodiversity and a Professor in the University of Costa Rica, and Mr.Frederic Perron-Welch, CISDL Legal Research Fellow and a doctoral candidate in the University of Lieden. Prof. Cordonier Segger also chaired an experts roundtable onAdvancing the SDGs and the Aichi Targets through Indigenous Treaties & ABS Agreements, which examined issues such as how  international, regional and national indigenous treaties can forward the SDGs and the Aichi Targets in order to build more inclusive mechanisms and how indigenous communities can use indigenous treaties to assist countries with the implementation and achievement of the SDGs, particularly SDG 15, and the Aichi Targets. This roundtable featured Dr. Alexandra Harrington, CISDL Lead Counsel for Peace, Justice & Governance, M. Erick Kassongo, CISDL Legal Research Fellow from the DR Congo who has been accepted for doctoral studies at SEED uWaterloo, M. Mohamed Hafijul Khan, CISDL Legal Research Fellow from Bangladesh who has been accepted for doctoral studies at SEED uWaterloo and doctoral candidate Ms Tara Dawn Atleo from SEED at uWaterloo. Other legal expert speakers and session chairs included Dr. Claudia Ituarte, Adviser, Swedbio/Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC); Mr. Gaute Voigt-Hanssen, CBD Head of Delegation & Senior Advisor, Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment;  Dr. Kishan Khoday,  Regional Team Leader for Climate Change, DRR, Energy & Environment, UNDP;  Prof. Patrícia Faga Iglecias Lemos,  Professor and Head of Environmental Affairs, University of São Paulo;  Dr. Tim Scott, Senior Policy Advisor, UNDP; Prof. Robert Kibugi, CISDL Senior Legal Fellow, CISDL and a Professor of Law at the University of Nairobi; Prof. Mohamed Abdelraouf,  Sustainability Programme Manager, Gulf Research Centre;  Dr. Omar Al Khateibeh, Executive Director, Al-Khateibeh Center;  Mr. Johan Abenius, Senior Advisor, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. CEENRG Fellow and CISDL Lead Counsel Dr. Markus Gehring, a Law Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, chaired an international experts roundtable on Public Participation & Access to Justice in Sustainable Use of Biodiversity – From Aarhus to Escazu, which addressed methods of global governance and implementation systems that have been effective in crafting the growth and parameters of public participation and access to justice in the biodiversity context. 

On behalf of BLGD 2018, Prof. Cordonier Segger delivered a Statement to the CBD COP14 Plenary on the 25th of November, focusing especially on the outcomes of the Day and the importance of engaging the law and governance community, globally, in discussions on the post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy. Ms. Tara Dawn Atleo, as CEO, Ahousaht Economic Development Corporation and a doctoral student at SEED in uWaterloo, also spoke in other events during the COP14, including a special experts panel on Sunday 25 November, which was chaired by Prof Cordonier Segger and also featured an intervention from M. Kassongo. Mr. David Caughey, uWaterloo graduate student at that time and BSIA Global Governance masters, served as Master of Ceremonies for the events. The BLGD was part of a series of activities hosted by the Biodiversity Land and Governance Initiative (BLGI), a coalition of different members of the biodiversity law and governance community, including universities, institutes, international organisations, law associations and others. Special thanks are due to Mr David Caughey, uWaterloo graduate student at that time and BSIA Global Governance masters, also Ms Isabella Gambill and Ms Rebecca Crehan, for their extraordinary efforts in creating such a successful series of events on law, governance and biodiversity at the CBD COP14. The event built on the success of the inaugural BLGD, held during CoP 13 in Cancun.