High-level segment started the biodiversity conference in Cancun

Press release 2016-12-05 at 17:31
Cancun COP13 logo

The 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 13), ongoing in Cancun, Mexico, aims to speed up the work done to halt the loss of biological diversity.The conference was preceded by a high-level segment, attended by Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen.

Meetings regarding the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will also be organised alongside the Cancun conference.

Towards the year 2020

In 2010, the member nations agreed to halt the loss of biological diversity by 2020. Based on the reports released by the various nations, this objective can still be achieved. In Cancun, the countries involved will discuss possible methods to further improve the efficiency of the operations.

In order to reach the goal, it is imperative for societies to assume responsibility for the wellbeing of natural environments. To this effect, the focus in Mexico will be on mainstreaming the measures, which is the primary theme chosen by the host country. The efforts to protect natural environments also support international aims related to sustainable development, climate change and food security. The keys to finding solutions are held by a variety of parties: NGOs, companies, landowners, indigenous peoples and local communities all have important roles, alongside states and various administrative branches.

Cooperation between various environmental conventions will also be increased to intensify the efforts. Finland has long been active in promoting the goal of the Convention. In Cancun, the discussion will include a roadmap which, if approved, will boost the efforts to attain the desired goals.

Although much remains to be done, many good things have already been achieved. For example, the number of conservation areas has increased significantly worldwide, and it would seem that the global goal set for them will be reached by 2020. Expertise in nature management has also increased all over the world.

Restoration at the fore

In 2010, it was agreed that 15% of the world’s degraded ecosystems would be restored. Now, the focus is especially on establishing the initial level for the goal. A new position has been introduced, according to which the need for restoration should be compared to the natural state of each ecosystem.

Since ecosystems around the world have recently gone through significant changes, choosing a common reference year for all states is challenging. By request of the CBD Secretariat, Professor Janne Kotiaho of the University of Jyväskylä will speak on the restoration efforts. Restoration measures also play an important role in the efforts to combat climate change.

Littering of seas and online trade of invasive alien species

The aim at the conference is to come to an agreement on a new action plan to address the acidification of seas and the effects of the changing climate on cold sea areas in particular. There is also a pressing need to find new ways to reduce littering and underwater noise, which are detrimental to aquatic species.

An important part of ensuring the well-being of marine environments is preventing harmful invasive species. Finland’s decision to ratify the Ballast Water Management Convention enabled its entry into force next year. The purpose of the convention is to prevent the spreading of invasive species with ships’ ballast water.

Furthermore, the discussion in Cancun will address the online trade of invasive alien species, which is becoming an important new path for their spreading.

Synthetic biology once again on the agenda

For the second time now, the conference will also cover synthetic biology, which refers to genotype modification with synthetic genes or the fabrication of new types of cellular components, for example. Synthetic biology may have ground-breaking impacts on many fields of technology, but its inherent risks to nature should be anticipated and prevented.

The goal in Cancun is to come to an agreement on the definition of the concept of synthetic biology. On the basis of prior discussions and an agreement at the Conference of the Parties two years ago, an analysis was prepared on the issue.


The request for all countries to provide information on the funding and measures that they have employed domestically or channelled to developing countries for the purpose of safeguarding biological diversity will be reiterated at the conference.  

Matters regarding more detailed reporting on funding and other measures were agreed upon in 2012. New funding-related initiatives are not likely to be discussed. A further issue to be addressed in Cancun is the allocation of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) funding in the 2017–2021 financing period.

Finland at the side events

Finland will be showcased at the side events of the conference. On Tuesday 13 December, Metsähallitus will speak about nature conservation cooperation in the Green Belt, and on Friday 16 December, Finland will take part in the event on Arctic nature arranged by the Arctic Council.

The conference continues until 17 December.

More information:

PLEASE NOTE! Time difference between Finland and Cancun, Mexico: -7 hours

Marina von Weissenberg, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 3070 806 firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Strategic Plan: Ilkka Heikkinen, Nature Conservation Director, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 40 506 1172, firstname.firstname@ym.fi

Funding: Eija Lumme, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, firstname.lastname@ym.fi, tel. +358 50 364 7358, firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Marine Areas: Penina Blankett, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 463 8196, firstname.lastname@ym.fi,

Invasive Alien Species: Johanna Niemivuo-Lahti, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 29 516 2259, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi

Synthetic Biology: Katileena Lohtander-Buckbee, Senior Adviser, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 400 148 64, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi