Following 15 days of negotiation at the United Nations Biodiversity Meetings in Geneva, world governments have produced a strong basis for a post 2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) to safeguard the health of the planet, scheduled for final agreement at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Kunming, China later this year.

The Geneva meetings – including the Open-ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020 3); Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), and Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3)) – were the first in-person negotiations held in two years and saw our local and subnational government constituency well represented and active, and warmly received by the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and the Parties to the Convention.

Co-ordination and collaboration were taken to new heights as our constituency stood together, engaging with many Parties who showed firm support. Our small team present on the ground in Geneva worked exceptionally well together and also received wide support from those not present at the meetings.

There was a significant shift towards stronger recognition and support for the role of local and subnational governments in the implementation of the GBF from many diverse Parties and groupings, and we were given the opportunity, as the local and subnational governments major group, to deliver a statement at the Joint Opening Plenary of the Meetings, as well as at the closing plenary of SBI 3.

The document that sets out the aspirations of the constituency, developed through the Edinburgh Process, was presented, debated and well received by the Parties, and has gone on to become a final L document, which means there is already broad confirmed consent by the Parties that it will be presented for adoption by the Parties at the COP in Kunming later this year.

Although negotiations were advanced in Geneva, more time is needed, therefore a fourth meeting of the working group will take place from 21 to 26 June in Nairobi, Kenya, before adoption of the framework takes place at the resumed COP 15 later this year in Kunming, China.

ICLEI would like to express sincere thanks to our staff and teams, as well as every other partner in our constituency, who worked so successfully together to represent local and subnational governments in these important negotiations. We would also like to thank the UN SCBD for so efficiently organizing the meetings and the city of Geneva for hosting them. We would also like to acknowledge all of the Parties who came out in recognition of the critical role of local and subnational governments in the successful implementation of the GBF.

We look forward to working together towards COP 15 for a strong outcome for local and subnational governments to enhance the implementation of the GBF through a whole of government approach.