“Main industry lobbyists are working behind the scenes to try to dilute the political ambition” of COP15, says report – Copyright AFP CHRISTOF STACHE
Roland Lloyd Parry
Lobbyists for pesticide and fertilizer producers are lobbying “behind the scenes” against stronger protection for species and ecosystems at the COP15 biodiversity conference, research showed on Thursday.
Delegates in Montreal for the meeting, which began this week and will run until December 19, aim to finalize a new framework for “living in harmony with nature,” with key goals to preserve the forests, oceans and species of the Land.
InfluenceMap, a think tank that monitors communications from companies and industry associations, said it “traces lobbying between 2020 and 2022 that has sought to weaken both the targets themselves and steps towards their implementation in the EU and US.
“As COP15 gets underway to finalize new biodiversity targets, major industry lobbyists are working behind the scenes to try to dilute political ambition,” said Rebecca Vaughan, lead author of the research and InfluenceMap program manager. .
“We have tracked the efforts of industry associations representing some of the world’s largest pesticide and fertilizer producers…strongly resisting EU and global targets to reduce the use of biodiversity-damaging agrochemicals.”
It tracked the submissions they made to the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the communications obtained through Freedom of Information requests.
Examples include the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), which the report says opposes targets to reduce nutrient losses linked to crop production.
– ‘Constructive dialogues’ –
IFA Director General Alzbeta Klein said: “This report misrepresents the activities of the fertilizer industry in the area of biodiversity and, in particular, the adoption of global targets.
“The industry recognizes the critical importance of protecting biodiversity for the well-being of people and the future of the planet, and is aware of its role and responsibility to help prevent and reverse global biodiversity losses,” he told AFP. .
The IFA said in a separate statement that it was “actively involved” in the CBD negotiations by providing expertise and information on farming practices to set a “realistic and achievable” goal on sustainable resource management.
One of the companies named in the report, German chemical giant BASF, said it engaged in “constructive dialogues” at the request of policymakers, advising on ways to limit environmental impact and help biodiversity.
“BASF supports the preservation of ecosystems and promotes the sustainable use of natural resources,” BASF communications executive Christian Zeintl told AFP.
“We believe that crop protection can go hand in hand with biodiversity in agriculture.”
– ‘Corporate Capture’ –
The InfluenceMap report also singled out fisheries lobbyists who oppose one of the main initiatives of COP15: protecting 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.
A previous InfluenceMap study in October documented cases of oil associations lobbying against the protection of threatened species such as some bees, seals and polar bears.
The head of the CBD, Elizabeth Mrema, told a briefing in November that most of the people who registered for COP15 were non-governmental “stakeholders”, including companies and financial institutions.
“This clearly indicates the private sector’s awareness of its role to also contribute to actions to reduce biodiversity loss,” he said.
Friends of the Earth issued a report on “corporate capture” at COP15, arguing that “the participation of big business in the CBD reveals a fundamental conflict of interest.
“The impact of corporate influence at CBD COP15 can already be seen in the draft Global Biodiversity Framework,” he said.
“Far from being transformative, it fails to address unsustainable production methods and allows for ‘business as usual.’”