COP15: New global deal for nature agreed despite objections from developing nations

In the early hours of the morning in Montreal, nations agreed on a new Global Biodiversity Framework aimed at halting land and water deterioration, restoring 30% of degraded ecosystems on land and sea by 2030 and unlocking new finance streams for nature recovery, with 23 action-orientated targets to be achieved by 2030.

COP15: New global deal for nature agreed despite objections from developing nations

Image: UNBiodiversity Flickr

This story was updated following the validation of the draft proposals from Sunday night. 

As millions around the globe sat down to watch football’s World Cup final, the draft texts of a Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework emerged at the CBD COP15 conference in Montreal on Sunday night.

Representatives from more than 190 national governments first began gathering in Montreal, Canada early last week for what is supposed to be the final part of the UN’s 15th Biodiversity COP. The COP has been running on and off since 2020, with host nation China choosing to move proceedings to Montreal earlier this year after having to implement multiple delays due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Following an intense final session of negotiations, COP15’s president, Huang Runqiu, announced at 3:30 am in Montreal on Monday morning (19 December) that nations had formally adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

The summit was widely regarded as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to accelerate global efforts to protect and restore nature, but not all delegates are confident this will be achieved through the new framework.

The new framework aims to “take urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss to put nature on a path to recovery for the benefit of people and planet by conserving and sustainably using biodiversity, and ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, while providing the necessary means of implementation.”

The overarching ambitions of the framework are to improve the “integrity, connectivity and resilience of all ecosystems” and increasing the overall size of these ecosystems by 2050 and to halt and reduce “human-induced extinction of known threatened species” by tenfold.

23 targets

The framework aims to “progressively close” a $700bn annual biodiversity finance game and features 23 action-oriented targets to be delivered by 2030.

The headline goal of ensuring that at least 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration by 2030 remains in the draft, alongside a goal to “eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies harmful for biodiversity” by 2025 and “progressively reducing” these subsidies by at least $500bn by 2030. In previous iterations of the framework the latter goal included an emphasis on agriculture and fisheries, but this has been removed in the latest draft.

Nations will also be implored to set biodiversity strategies and, by 2030, mobilise $20bn per year from 2025, and $30bn from 2030 (compared to $10bn today collectively).

Other key targets include ensuring that harvesting and trade of nature is “sustainable, safe and legal” and prevents overexploitation and to eliminate, reduce and mitigate the impact of invasive alien species on biodiversity.

Reducing pollution from “all sources”, minimising the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification, managing agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry sustainably, increasing green and blue spaces in urban areas and ensuring gender equality across all framework targets are all included in the draft.

A specific target is also issued for the private sector to take “regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity”. This includes the supply chain and for businesses to provide information to consumers.

However, the final text appears to weaken the language regarding corporate and non-state disclosure. During COP15, almost 500 companies voiced support for mandatory disclosure of nature-related impacts through the Business for Nature group’s “Make it Mandatory” campaign. However, the final text does not require mandatory disclosure, meaning many corporates will need to involve themselves with voluntary disclosure initiatives.

Sticking points

The text does reiterate that the goals will only be achieved if nations, businesses and investors can sufficiently unlock finance to support the 23 targets.

Several organisations observing the talks have told edie that the key sticking point is financing the delivery of a nature-positive future. As has been the case with climate finance, international financial flows for biodiversity conservation and restoration are far below the levels needed. The Paulson Institute estimates that the global finance gap for reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 stands at a minimum of $598bn per year.

The row mainly concerns emerging markets such as Brazil and China, which some small, low-income nations believe should now be paying in more than they are taking out of international flows.

Even as the gavel came down on the landmark agreement, many delegations remained unhappy.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, stated its disappointment over the finance targets, warning that a new dedicated funding pool needed to be established as part of the agreement, and that developed nations should be the ones the took ownership of financing the implementation of the new targets.

Other nations have expressed annoyance as to how the final agreement was passed. Carbon Brief’s Aruna Chandrasekhar stated on Twitter that Cameroon are particular despondent, claiming that the COP15 president “twisted the procedure” to rush through the agreement and that there was not enough time for documents to be individually adopted.

edie will run a reaction round-up on the site shortly.

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