Nations Sign COP15 to Protect the Future of Biodiversity

The United Nations conference closes its doors after more than ten days of intense negotiations. The resulting agreement aims to increase biodiversity and restore ecosystems.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jan. 5, 2023 15:29 UTC

An inter­na­tional agree­ment has been reached with the goal of pro­tect­ing 30 per­cent of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans and 30 per­cent of degraded ecosys­tems by 2030. The pact addresses bio­di­ver­sity loss, restores ecosys­tems, and pro­tects indige­nous rights.

The new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) has been signed by the nations par­tic­i­pat­ing in the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) held in Montreal, Canada.

From December 7 – 19, hun­dreds of indige­nous asso­ci­a­tions, envi­ron­men­tal­ists, researchers and busi­ness lead­ers from around the world joined envi­ron­men­tal min­is­ters from almost 200 coun­tries to address the bio­di­ver­sity cri­sis crip­pling the planet.

The sig­na­to­ries of the GBF also agreed to pro­vide new funds to the least devel­oped coun­tries and devel­op­ing states with the goal of boost­ing bio­di­ver­sity.

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The stakes could not be higher: the planet is expe­ri­enc­ing a dan­ger­ous decline in nature due to human activ­ity. It is expe­ri­enc­ing its largest loss of life since the dinosaurs. One mil­lion plant and ani­mal species are now threat­ened with extinc­tion, many within decades,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) wrote in a note announc­ing the new agree­ment.

The frame­work should achieve a few pri­mary global goals, which include the ten­fold reduc­tion of the extinc­tion rate for all species by 2050 and end­ing the human-induced extinc­tion of threat­ened species.

Other sig­nif­i­cant com­mit­ments of the agree­ment include devel­op­ing a sus­tain­able approach and using bio­di­ver­sity to acknowl­edge the value of nature. The agree­ment also aims to fairly share the ben­e­fits of genetic resources and dig­i­tal sequence infor­ma­tion.

The United States and the Vatican did not par­tic­i­pate in the Convention or sign the final agree­ment.

Still, the U.S. admin­is­tra­tion’s bio­di­ver­sity envoy, Monica Medina, met with COP15 del­e­gates and dis­cussed the U.S.‘s cur­rent bio­di­ver­sity strate­gies, which include the pro­tec­tion of at least 30 per­cent of land and oceans and con­sis­tent par­tic­i­pa­tion in the United Nations Global Environment Facility.

To become effec­tive, the frame­work will have to be rat­i­fied and adopted by the sign­ing coun­tries. Success will be mea­sured by our rapid and con­sis­tent progress in imple­ment­ing what we have agreed to. The entire U.N. sys­tem is geared to sup­port its imple­men­ta­tion so we can truly make peace with nature,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP exec­u­tive direc­tor.

The final agree­ment also listed 23 sec­to­r­ial tar­gets. They include restor­ing 30 per­cent of ter­res­trial and marine ecosys­tems, reduc­ing the loss of highly rel­e­vant bio­di­ver­sity-rich areas to near zero and halv­ing global food waste.

The frame­work included a series of finan­cial and credit com­mit­ments des­tined to impact bio­di­ver­sity. It asked par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries to reduce sub­si­dies that harm bio­di­ver­sity, such as those sup­port­ing the fos­sil fuel indus­try, by at least $500 bil­lion per year. Countries should accom­pany this decrease with incen­tives for com­pa­nies devel­op­ing bio­di­ver­sity and con­ser­va­tion-friendly solu­tions.

The agree­ment also asks for $200 bil­lion annu­ally to fund bio­di­ver­sity-related projects. Such funds will be added to the at least $30 bil­lion a year that devel­oped coun­tries will trans­fer to devel­op­ing nations. These funds will help sus­tain the frame­work’s goals.

Finally, the GBF tar­gets require transna­tional com­pa­nies and finan­cial insti­tu­tions to mon­i­tor, assess and trans­par­ently dis­close the risks and impacts on bio­di­ver­sity their oper­a­tions, port­fo­lios, sup­ply and value chains cre­ate.

As reported by The Guardian, the min­is­ter for Environment and Climate Change Canada, Steven Guilbeault, called the agree­ment a major win for our planet and all of human­ity, chart­ing a new course away from the relent­less destruc­tion of habi­tats and species.”

Governments have cho­sen the right side of his­tory in Montreal,” World Wildlife Fund International direc­tor gen­eral, Marco Lambertini, told Reuters. But he warned that the GBF could be under­mined by slow imple­men­ta­tion and fail­ure to mobi­lize the promised resources. It also lacks a manda­tory ratch­et­ing mech­a­nism that will hold gov­ern­ments account­able to increase action if tar­gets are not met.”

Make no mis­take: this is a his­toric result for nature. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework pro­vides a long-needed inter­na­tional blue­print to guide our col­lec­tive turn­around of nature’s for­tunes within this cru­cial decade,” Andrew Deutz, Nature Conservancy’s direc­tor of Global Policy, Institutions and Conservation Finance, said in a note.


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