Improving collaboration in the implementation of global biodiversity conventions

Eight conventions make up the biodiversity cluster of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) which provide the critical international legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of nature. However, concerns about the rate of implementation of the conventions at the national level have triggered discussions about the effectiveness of these MEAs in halting the loss of biodiversity. Two main concerns have emerged, lack of capacity and resources, and lack of coherence in implementing multiple conventions. Here we focus on the latter, outlining the mechanisms by which international conventions are translated into national policy, specifically the role of the ‘Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020’ and the associated Aichi Biodiversity Targets as a unifying grand plan for biodiversity conservation. This strategic plan has been used to coordinate and align targets to promote and enable more effective implementation across all biodiversity-related conventions. However, a survey of 139 key stakeholders from 88 countries suggested opportunities to further improve cooperation among the biodiversity-related conventions. The roadmap for improving synergies among conventions agreed at the 13th Convention on Biological Diversity's Conference of Parties in Cancun, Mexico in 2016 can help to address these concerns. Further, we suggest ways that the scientific community can actively engage and contribute to the policy process by: 1) establishing a science-policy platform to address key knowledge gaps, 2) improving data gathering, reporting and monitoring, 3) developing indicators that adequately support implementation of national plans and strategies, and 4) providing evidence-based recommendations to policy makers. This will be particularly important as 2020 approaches and work to develop a new biodiversity agenda for the next decade is beginning.