COP15 adopts historic agreement to halt biodiversity loss
On Monday, the world’s countries reached a historic agreement in Montreal, Canada, to stop the destruction of biodiversity and resources important to humanity. This agreement aims to protect 30% of the planet by 2030.
It is a step forward to protect nature. On Monday (December 19th), countries around the world reached a historic agreement to halt the destruction of biodiversity and resources vital to humanity during the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) in Montreal, Canada.
“The agreement has been passed,” China’s COP15 president Huang Runqiu said before turning to applause from tired dignitaries at the late-night plenary.
Protect 30% of the planet by 2030
After four years of difficult negotiations, a ten-day and one-night diplomatic marathon, more than 190 countries reached an agreement under the auspices of China, the president of COP15, despite the opposition of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Called the Kunming-Montreal Treaty, this “treaty for peace with nature” aims to protect lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and climate crisis.
In particular, the countries agreed on a roadmap that aims to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 and allocate $30 billion in annual conservation aid to developing countries.
“Together we have taken a historic step,” said Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Environment Minister, who hosted the summit.
The health of forests, oceans, animals and all biodiversity is the basis of the strength and stability of our society. Nature needs our help.
⁰Our team is working to reach a historic agreement to protect nature around the world. #COP15 pic.twitter.com/5MOFefigAp
— Steven Guilbeault (@s_guilbeault) December 18, 2022
The establishment of protected areas on 30% of the planet, the best known of twenty measures, has been presented as the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. To date, 17% of land areas and 8% of seas are protected.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised the “historic result” of this agreement, which “completes” the Paris agreement in terms of climate.
He added that the world “now has two areas of action to move towards a sustainable economy by 2050”.
The text also guarantees indigenous peoples, who are the custodians of 80% of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity: it proposes to restore 30% of degraded land and halve the risk associated with pesticides.
In an attempt to resolve the perennial financial issue between the North and the South, China is also proposing to reach “at least $20 billion” in annual international aid for biodiversity by 2025 and “at least $30 billion by 2030”.
New “North Star”
Gabon’s Environment Minister Lee White told AFP: “Most people say it is better than what we expected from both sides, both for rich and developing countries. This is a sign of a good text.”
For Masha Kalinina of the non-governmental organization Pew Charitable Trusts: “Conserving at least 30% of land and seas by 2030 is the new North Star we will use to move towards nature recovery.”
“Moose, sea turtles, parrots, rhinoceroses, rare ferns are among the million species whose future prospects will be greatly improved,” Brian O’Donnell of the NGO Campaign naturally added.
Bert Wander of the NGO Avaaz told AFP that the text “is an important step forward in the fight to save life on Earth, but it will not be enough.”
“Governments must listen to what science is saying and rapidly increase their ambition to protect half the Earth by 2030,” he said.
75% of global ecosystems have been altered by human activity
Other environmental activists also feared deadlines far removed from the current emergency.
Since scientists are formal, time is running short. 75% of the world’s ecosystems are being modified by human activities, more than one million species are threatened with extinction and the world’s well-being is at stake: more than half of the world’s GDP depends on nature and its services.
In particular, the previous ten-year plan, signed in Japan in 2010, achieved almost no goals, especially due to the lack of real implementation mechanisms.
Antonio Guterres, the head of the UN, who believes that humanity has become a “weapon of mass destruction”, called on the parties to conclude a “pact of peace with nature”.
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Funding at the heart of the debate
But the discussions almost stumbled over the financial issue, which remained at the center of the debate until the end, even with the objections of a number of African countries. As with climate talks in Egypt in November, this has created tensions between rich countries and countries in the South.
Less developed countries demanded 100 billion dollars a year from rich countries in return for their efforts. This is at least ten times more than current international aid for biodiversity.
In addition to subsidies, the countries of the South have also strongly pushed for the creation of a global fund dedicated to biological diversity.
In this regard, China is proposing as a compromise to create a chapter dedicated to biodiversity within the current Global Environment Facility (GEF) from 2023, whose current performance is considered very inadequate by the least developed countries. .