The Environment Chronicle
Notable environmental events
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The twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) and the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13), and the second meeting of the parties for the Paris Agreement (CMA2) was held in Bonn, Germany from 6-18 November 2017. Germany was the technical host of the COP, which was presided over by Fiji.
The Twelfth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) in Manila, the Philippines, which concluded on 28 October 2017, achieved ground-breaking successes in species conservation. Over thirty new animal and subspecies were added to the CMS Appendices and will thus receive protection under the international convention. These include endangered species such as the giraffe, leopard, lion and chimpanzee. The African wild ass, which is critically endangered and of which there are approximately only 200 remaining in the dry regions of North East Africa, will be afforded complete protection. Through a joint Africa-wide initiative led by CMS and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), concrete steps will be taken to protect the leopard, lion, wild dog and cheetah. Shark species in sharp decline such as the angelshark and the whale shark will receive greater protection in future. Other important decisions taken at the conference include: The establishment of a compliance review mechanism for the convention. In addition to the Parties and the Secretariat, NGOs can also submit potential breaches to be reviewed. Measures for the prevention and reduction of underwater noise - whales and dolphins will benefit in particular from these. New activities to combat the illegal taking or killing of birds.
The first United Nations Ocean Conference took place on 5-9 June 2017 in New York. Governments of Fiji and Sweden had the co-hosting responsibilities of the Conference. The 193 Member States of the United Nations unanimously agreed to a set of measures that will begin the reversal of the decline of the ocean’s health as the five-day Ocean Conference concluded on 9 June. The outcome document, together with more than 1,300 commitments to action, marks a breakthrough in the global approach to the management and conservation of the ocean. Recognizing that the wellbeing of present and future generations is inextricably linked to the health and productivity of the ocean, countries collectively agreed in the Call to Action “to act decisively and urgently, convinced that our collective action will make a meaningful difference to our people, to our planet and to our prosperity.”
The G7 Summit was held on 26-27 May 2017, in Taormina, Sicily, Italy. The summit ended without agreement on climate change. The G7 declaration will give US President Donald Trump time to decide whether to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the discussion on climate as "very unsatisfying." The declaration released by the Group of Seven (G7) leaders admitted that the US was still "reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics." All other six leaders pledged their commitment to the Paris deal.
Attended by Ministers from 35 countries, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place from 22-23 May 2017, in Berlin, Germany. The Petersberg Climate Dialogue concluded with a clear commitment to the Paris Agreement and to its ambitious implementation. The key topic at this year's meeting was the preparation for the Climate Conference COP23, to take place in November 2017 in Bonn under the Presidency of Fiji. Ministers from regions around the world responded to the joint invitation from Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and the Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. The OECD report "Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth", which was drawn up as a part of the German G20 Presidency, was a topic of discussion at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Another focus of the talks was the preparation for the Climate Conference COP23, which will address the rulebook on the detailed implementation of the Paris Agreement. In addition, preparation for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue was discussed. This dialogue will assess in detail the progress the international community has made so far in climate action. Germany is supporting Fiji as technical host of COP23. In cooperation with the UNFCCC-Secretariat, Fiji and Germany have created a plan for a conference that will give space to climate diplomats as well as non-state actors. According to the principle "one conference, two zones" there will be the "Bula Zone" for negotiations and the "Bonn Zone" devoted to climate initiatives and projects.
The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) and the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) was held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016.
On 20 July 2016 the Global Restoration Council was launched in Bonn on the invitation of Federal Ministry for the Environment. The council brings together luminaries from the fields of politics, civil society and business. It was the council's first official meeting. The Global Restoration Council met on 20 and 21 July in Bad Godesberg, a neighbourhood in Bonn. The council is made up of internationally active, respected individuals well-known to the public. The former Swedish prime minister Göran Persson, the human rights and climate activist Bianca Jagger, and the representative of the African Green Belt Initiative Wanjira Mathai are among the members. The council will work together with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) to support the achievement of international targets for the restoration of destroyed forestland.
During its meeting in in Istanbul, Turkey, from 10 to 17 July 2016, the World Heritage Committee inscribed 21 sites on the World Heritage List: 12 cultural sites, six natural and three “mixed” sites that are both natural and cultural. The World Heritage List now numbers 1052 sites in 165 countries.
From 3 to 5 July 2016, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Moroccan Foreign Minister and President of the next climate conference (COP 22) in Marrakesh, Salaheddine Mezouar, hosted the seventh Petersberg Climate Dialogue. 35 ministers from regions across the globe have been invited to participate. After the historical success of the Paris summit last December, this year's Climate Dialogue focused on promoting an ambitious and swift implementation of the Paris Agreement. There was consensus at the talks that the climate targets laid down in Paris must be implemented as quickly as possible in concrete policies. A further focus of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue was exploiting synergies to step up implementation of the Paris Agreement. At the talks, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller jointly presented a global partnership to support the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Participants in the Climate Dialogue also hope to inject futher impetus by shifting global finance flows to be consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development, one of the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. On 12 December an historic agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations. The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities. The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
On 25 September 2015, the World leaders embraced a sweeping 15-year global plan of action to end poverty, reduce inequalities and protect the environment, known as the Sustainable Development Goals, at the opening of a United Nations special summit. Titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and contained in document A/70/L.1, the agreement on a set of 17 goals and 169 targets would come into effect on 1 January 2016, replacing the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000.
The 2nd illegal wildlife trade conference took place in Kasane, Botswana, on 25 March 2015. 32 countries took part in the conference, signing up to the Kasane Statement which pledged new action combatting the illegal wildlife trade. This includes a commitment to change legislation relating to financial crimes associated with wildlife crime – including money laundering – to ensure tougher penalties. These countries also promised to take action on sustainable livelihoods, giving communities the opportunity to benefit from their local resources in a way that recognises their needs while also protecting the ecosystems around them. The Kasane Statement signatories also pledged to reduce demand through co-operation with the transport industry and private sector more broadly.
The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was held from 14 to 18 March 2015 in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol took place from 1 to 14 December in Lima, Peru. The final document contains elements of a draft negotiating text for an agreement to be adopted in Paris at the end of 2015 and enter into force in 2020. The decision envisages a complete draft by the end of May 2015. The COP 20 decision in Lima invites all Parties to present their own intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). Those ready to do so should indicate within the first quarter of 2015 the extent to which they can reduce their emissions. Targets should be transparent, comparable and verifiable. In addition, Parties may provide voluntary information on measures for adapting to climate change. ight to the end, the issue of how to differentiate the climate commitments of the Parties remained contentious. At present the Kyoto Protocol only distinguishes between developing and developed countries. However, the EU and many other developed countries have advocated that in future the level of commitment should be based more on the individual economic capabilities of each state. The question of the legal form of the new agreement remained unresolved in Lima. COP 20 made good progress on climate finance. Over 10 billion dollars have now been pledged to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), thus creating the financial base the GCF needs to support developing countries in climate action and adaptation measures.
The German Federal Environment Agency hosted the 2nd European Resources Forum on November 10-11, 2014, in Berlin, Germany. The aim of the European Resources Forum (ERF) is to provide a European platform for discussion of the issue of sustainable resource use by focusing on the political and scientific debate on this subject.
The Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals was held in Quito, Ecuador from 4 to 9 November 2014. An important issue up for discussion was the fight against the poisoning of migratory birds. The Parties adopted a resolution in favour of banning the use of lead shot within the next three years. The Action Plan for Migratory African-Eurasian Landbirds was also adopted. In addition the conference decided to establish an international task force on the illegal killing, taking and trading of migratory birds in the Mediterranean region. Winners of the conference include the polar bear, which will be better protected in future by the international community, and bird species such as the blue roller, the great bustard, the semipalmated sandpiper and the red knot. In light of severe declines in their populations due to overfishing and bycatch, a number of shark and ray species have also been listed in the CMS Appendices. Various species such as the sawfish, the silky shark, the hammerhead shark and the mantas have now been listed. Germany furthered its conservation efforts with the launch of the Central Asian Mammal Initiative which serves to protect large mammals native to Central Asia such as the Saiga antelope, the Mongolian Gazelle and the Khulan Equus hemionus. The Central Asian Mammal Initiative protects the natural habitats of Central Asia such as steppes, mountains and deserts. Along with this resolution a Programme of Work was developed for the protection of the migratory paths of large mammals in Central Asia.
On 23 September 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 in New York to galvanize and catalyze climate action. New commitments, new ideas, and new financing for significant actions to address the challenge of climate change dominated the announcements made by more than 100 Heads of State and Government and leaders from the private sector and civil society at the Climate Summit
The international conference ‘Biodiversity Today for Tomorrow’ was convened by BION, the Bonn Biodiversity Network, and was held in Bonn, Germany, during 17-19 September 2014. The conference brought together more than 300 experts, representing 112 organizations and institutions from 38 countries. BION is built upon a unique range of local, federal state, national, and international stakeholders that are based in or near Bonn and that are involved in the study, the conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. BION, the Bonn Biodiversity Network, aims at increasing mutual knowledge and understanding and fostering synergies among this range of institutions and organizations. This includes academia, private corporations, NGOs, United Nations entities, funding organizations and relevant federal and federal state ministries and agencies, and the recently established Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) as well as the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GDCT).
The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States was held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa. The overarching theme of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States was "The sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships". Germany wants to work together with the small island states to better protect the climate. At the UN Conference the Federal Environment Ministry announced a further expansion of cooperation. The central theme of the cooperation is climate action - both on the islands concerned and in the context of the forthcoming negotiations for an ambitious international climate agreement.
The fifth Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place in Berlin from 14 to 15 July 2014. Federal Environment Minister Hendricks and her Peruvian counterpart Manuel Pulgar Vidal, who will chair the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is to be held in Lima, invited some 35 ministers from all regions of the world to the fifth Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Peruvian President Ollanta Humala also gave keynote speeches. The aim of this year's Petersberg Climate Dialogue was to introduce new ideas into the negotations and discuss new strategies in preparation for the World Climate Conference in Peru in 2014 (COP 20 | CMP 10).
The inaugural session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was held in the Kenyan capital at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) over the five days between 23 and 27 June 2014. The establishment of the UNEA is a result of decisions adopted at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 to upgrade the former UNEP Governing Council, making it into the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in which all United Nations Member States have a vote. The focus of the first UNEA session was a debate about global sustainability goals for the post-2015 agenda, which are to succeed the Millennium Development Goals set out in the year 2000. International cooperation on measures to combat the illegal trade in wildlife will also be discussed. Other items on the agenda include decisions on chemicals and wastes, improving air quality and protecting the marine environment.
The fortieth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 40) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 40), as well as the June session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) took place from 4-15 June 2014 in Bonn, Germany. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks regards the negotiations as an important step on the path towards a new comprehensive climate agreement to be adopted at the end of 2015 in Paris. During the negotiations, countries were able to gain more clarity and develop a common understanding of the possible options regarding important issues on the structure and content of the future climate agreement. This year's Bonn Climate Conference, which takes place every summer, included a meeting of the ministers for the first time. A new climate agreement taking effect after 2020 is to be adopted at the Climate Change Summit in Paris 2015. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, this new climate agreement will contain commitments to be upheld by all developed countries, emerging economies and developing countries for the reduction of emissions. At the last Climate Conference in Warsaw in 2013, it was decided that by March 2015 all countries would submit concrete proposals for the commitments to be taken on in the new agreement. Negotiations in Bonn helped clarify what background information must be supplied by each country in their target proposals so that proposals will be transparent and comparable.
The UK government hosted an international conference on illegal wildlife trade on 13 February 2014. The conference brought together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction. At the conference delegates from 46 different countries and 11 UN organisations have signed The London Declaration. The 46 countries have also committed to improving cross border cooperation - and to strengthening laws and policing.
An international summit on the conservation of the African elephant took place in Botswana's capital Gaborone from 2 to 4 December 2013.Germany initiated the summit and also participated in the conference as its main financial sponsor. The conference was organised by the government of Botswana and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Representatives from 30 countries reached agreement on 14 concrete measures. Wildlife crime is to be classified as a serious crime in all participating countries. International cooperation on law enforcement will be stepped up in line with this. In the African countries, the local population will be given a more active role in elephant conservation. In the Asian target markets, educational campaigns will aim to reduce the demand for ivory.
The 19th Conference of the Parties to the Climate Framework Convention and the 9th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol was held on 11 - 23 November 2013 in Warsaw, Poland. The conference set a pathway to a new climate agreement, which is scheduled to be agreed in 2015 in Paris and enter into force by 2020. It will be the first universal agreement which establishes binding goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which apply to every country in the world. Countries must put their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the new treaty on the table ahead of the Paris conference. Some important technical decisions were reached in Warsaw to enact the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in the Member States. After years of struggle an agreement on a transparent procedure in forest preservation was finally reached. The REDD+ mechanism to protect forests can now be enacted at national level after this breakthrough. The mechanism creates financial incentives to preserve forests.
The Conference for the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held on 10 and 11 October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, with a ceremonial opening held in Minamata, Japan on 9 October 2013. At the ceremonial opening, the Government of Japan welcomed delegates and reminded them of the events which led to the recognition of the dangers of mercury poisoning. The meeting was officially opened in Kumamoto, and proceeded to adopt the text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the resolutions to be annexed to the Final Act, and then the Final Act itself. The Convention and Final Act were then opened for signature, followed by statements from attending governments and other delegates.
At the Special Meeting of the Commission held in Bremerhaven, Germany, on 15 and16 July 2013, two marine protected area (MPA) proposals were submitted to the Commission by CCAMLR Members: one for the Ross Sea Region by New Zealand and the United States, and one for the establishment of a representative system of MPAs in East Antarctica by Australia, France and the European Union. The talks ended with no result. The Russian delegation supported by neighboring Ukraine blocked the initiative.
The conference “Electric Mobility going global” was hosted by the German Federal Government in cooperation with the German National Electric Mobility Platform. The conference, took place in Berlin, Germany on May 27th and 28th 2013. At this event delegates discussed the potential inherent in electric mobility and the challenges it faces, in the form of presentations, panel discussions and expert fora.
The fourth Petersberg Climate Dialogue entitled "Shaping the future" took place in Berlin from 6 to 7 May 2013. Germany and Poland had invited some 35 ministers from all regions of the world. Poland holds the Presidency of the next UN climate summit. The dialogue was be co-chaired by Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec.
The International Conference on Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in European Seas took place in Berlin, Germany, from 10 to 12 April, 2013. The German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the European Commission DG Environment were co-organizers of the conference.
The first meeting of the Platform's Plenary (IPBES-1) was held in Bonn, Germany from 21 to 26 January 2013, hosted by the Government of Germany.
The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol opened on Monday, 26 November and continued until Saturday, 8 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar. Following difficult negotiations, the international Climate Change Conference in Doha agreed on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. A work programme for the comprehensive climate agreement to be negotiated by 2015 was also adopted.
From 16 to 17 July 2012, ministers and delegations from 31 states, together with the Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, met in Berlin for the third Petersberg Climate Dialogue. At the conference, hosted by Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and the president of the climate change conference 2012, Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, participants discussed how to swiftly take further climate action, and what can be accomplished in Doha.
From 20 to 22 June 2012, the UN conference for sustainable development, Rio+20,took place in Rio de Janeiro. The location of the conference has a symbolic relevance, as it is the same place where standards for global climate and environmental policies were set at the Earth Summit 20 years ago. In 1992 the international community committed itself for the first time to the general principal of sustainable development and adopted the Agenda 21 action programme. The conference also adopted the Rio declaration and the UN conventions on climate change, on biological diversity and to combat desertification.
Seventeenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) and the 7th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 7) took place from 28 November to 9 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. After two weeks of difficult negotiations, the longest UN climate summit in history ended with the international community agreeing take up negotiations on a legally binding climate agreement that includes all states the following year. On this basis the Conference of the Parties (COP) was able to agree on a second commitment period under Kyoto Protocol to follow on from the first commitment period which expires at the end of 2012.
Jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, and with support from Finland and Austria, the conference “Contributions of Forests to a Green Economy”, took place from 4–7 October 2011, in Bonn. The conference is a country-led initiative (CLI) in support of the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and is one of Germany’s activities to celebrate the “International Year of Forests”. The conference was organized in close collaboration with the UNFF Secretariat and FAO.
On the invitation of Federal Environment Ministery of Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ministers and high-level representatives of industry and civil society attended the conference "Bonn Challenge on forests, climate change and biodiversity" on 1-2 September 2011, to discuss the global restoration of forests. The conference set itself the goal of restoring 150 million hectares of lost and degraded forests by 2020 with globally concerted action. For the first time, the Bonn Challenge links the decisions on forests made under the Framework Convention on Climate Change with those of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which adopted the goal of restoring 15 percent of destroyed or degraded ecosystems by 2020.
From 2 to 4 July 2011 the Petersberg Climate Dialogue II took place in Berlin. Ministers and high-ranking representatives from 35 countries met for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue II "Rising to the Climate Challenge" at the invitation of Germany and South Africa. The first Petersberg Climate Dialogue I "Building Momentum for Mexico" took place from 2 to 4 May 2010 on the Petersberg near Bonn. The aim of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue was to comprehensively support and advance the international climate negotiations following the disappointing summit in Copenhagen and bridge the gap between "implementation and negotiation".
The 23rd session of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO's Programme "Man and the Biosphere" took place in the city of Dresden from 28 June to 1 July 2011. 40 years ago, in 1971, the ICC assembled for its first session. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the MAB programme, Germany’s environment minister invited the ICC to Germany. It is the first time that the ICC session took place in Germany. The International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) has added 18 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), which now numbers 580 sites in 14 countries.