AFRICA: “Omicron” causes a new postponement of the COP 15 on biodiversity

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AFRICA: "Omicron" causes a new postponement of the COP 15 on biodiversity©angellodecoSchutterstock

A new variant of the coronavirus, which originated in South Africa, has caused the postponement of the second part of the COP 15 on biodiversity, scheduled for January 12-28, 2022 in Geneva (Switzerland). The decision was taken on December 2nd, 2021 by the organizers, after the discovery of two cases of the new variant of Covid-19, called "Omicron".

The health crisis due to the Coronavirus is once again paralyzing the global agenda for the preservation of the planet. The second part of the 15th United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (COP 15) has been postponed for three months. “The uncertainties created by the Omicron variant and the travel restrictions it has caused force to postpone the face-to-face meetings, scheduled for January 12 to 28, 2022 in Geneva (Switzerland),” announced the organizers of the COP 15 on biodiversity, indicating that other dates are under consideration, for March 2022.

This decision was taken after the discovery of two cases of the new variant of the Coronavirus called “Omicron”, on one of the campuses of the International School of Geneva. Even the quarantine of about 2,000 people, including 1,600 children, that followed this discovery, was not enough to reassure the organizers of the COP15 on biodiversity. In addition to the new restrictions adopted throughout the world to counter the new variant, they fear a more dangerous virus.

According to a study conducted in South Africa, where the Omicron variant first appeared, the risk of catching Covid-19 again is increased with this variant. According to the South African scientists, this variant is more capable of bypassing the immunity acquired through infection than previous variants.

Kunming summit in China also threatened

The postponement of the working meeting in Geneva, the second part and intermediate articulation between the two parts (virtual and face-to-face) of the COP15 on biodiversity, will certainly have an impact on the rest of the program of this event. In particular, it could lead to a further postponement of the Kunming summit in China. Initially scheduled for October 2020, this summit has already been postponed by one year because of Covid-19, and then finally split into two parts.  The first part was held virtually in October 2021, and the second part is scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, from April 25 to May 8, 2022.

Read also-SOUTH AFRICA: Will Pretoria adopt the 30% biodiversity target?

The COP15 on biodiversity is nevertheless crucial. It must result in new global objectives post-Covid-19. Often presented as the “COP21” of biodiversity, in reference to the 2015 international meeting in France that led to the development of the Paris Climate Agreement, the COP15 on biodiversity must, among other things, institute the commitment of member states to protect at least 30% of land and marine areas, including 10% under strict protection on a global scale.

Boris Ngounou


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