Dossier on the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancún (CBD COP 13)

Dossier on the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancún (CBD COP 13)

Photo: Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, México. All rights reserved.

Mainstreaming Biodiversity is the central motto of the Cancún conference taking place 4-17 December, 2016. It is at the same time a strategic objective of the  CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) and aims at the inclusion of the value of biological diversity into national accounting until 2020. This kind of monetarization of nature is highly disputed. Another controversial issue at the Mexico negotiations is synthetic biology with its risky new technologies of genetic engineering. These threaten to undermine all three objectives of the Convention. Geoengineering, which the CBD has a pioneered precautionary approach on at the global level, is a third bone of contention. But in the light of the Paris Agreement on climate change and its 1.5°C target, old and new proposals for climate techno-fixes are being increasingly revived.

Thus, many controversial issues are on the table in Cancún. However, the key challenge for the CBD's future is not the definition of new objectives but the implementation of those already agreed upon.

The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung follows the negotiations in Mexico particularly on the issues of Synthetic Biology, New Economy of Nature and Geoengineering.

Accompanying material: Synthetic Biology

Dossier: Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology describes a set of new genetic techniques for designing and engineering lifeforms for industrial purposes. So far, there is neither a public debate worth mentioning nor any regulation by law. Our dossier looks at the risks Synthetic Biology poses for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Call for a global moratorium on gene drives

Along with 160 global groups the Heinrich Böll Foundation signed the call for a global moratorium on genetically-engineered gene Drives. Support against gene drives also comes from the German government.

The perils of planned extinctions

The gene-drive technology is supposed to enable deliberate extinctions of “pest” species, in order to save “favored” species and stop the global biodiversity loss. The risks are obvious - and the existing regulatory framework is absolutely unsuitable.

By Claire Hope Cummings

Accompanying material: new economy of nature

Dossier: New Economy of Nature

How did forests become ‚natural capital‘? Our web dossier illustrates what the concept of the „New Economy of Nature“ stands for and explains nature’s role in the Green Economy and why this approach has been of increased interest to economy and politics recently.

Valuation and monetisation of nature – No thanks!

We don’t need any “reconciliation of the economy and ecology”. Instead, we should be saying no to destructive and exploitative projects and policies - and yes to a repoliticisation of environmental debate.

By Barbara Unmüßig

Accompanying material: Geoengineering

A change of course - How to build a fair future in a 1.5° world


In Paris in 2015 governments agreed to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees. The mainstream pathways pin theirhopes to risky and costly technologies. In this joint publication, together with Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Misereor, we present alternatives that are possible and necessary for a change of course.

Last-ditch climate option or wishful thinking?


This report summarises the key evidence which must be considered about BECCS. It looks at the overwhelmingly destructive impacts of existing large-scale bioenergy production and use and the implications of massively scaling it up, as would be required for a global BECCS programme.

Geoengineering is not the only answer

Parties to the CBD need to send a strong message to their climate counterparts to find real solutions that work for ecosystems and people instead of offering quick technofixes.

By Lili Fuhr

Radical Realism About Climate Change

Last December in Paris, 196 governments agreed on the need to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But political constraints are causing some to advocate solutions that will do more harm than good.

By Lili Fuhr

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