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UN Biodiversty Conference (COP15) starts

07 December 2022

What is COP15 and what needs to be addressed over the next couple of weeks in Montreal? Kirsty Rogers, Global Head of ESG explains.

COP15 is the lesser known COP but one that is just as urgent and important.

Climate change and biodiversity loss go hand in hand and are equally important in terms of the required urgent action.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was first signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. 

Its main objectives are: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

The CBD is dedicated to promoting sustainable development and the Convention recognises that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.

The CBD Secretariat is located in Montreal, Quebec.

We now have nearly every country in the world as a party to the CBD apart from the US and the Vatican.

Biodiversity includes:

  • The ecosytems of our planet
  • Species
  • The genetic diversity of our planet

The conference will convene goverments from around the world to agree to as new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process. This sets out a plan to implement broad- based action to bring about a transformation in society's replationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled.

An extract from the draft framework includes the following:

The framework is built around a theory of change which recognises that urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models so that the trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss will stabilise in the next 10 years (by 2030) and allow for the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years, with net improvements by 2050 to achieve the Convention’s vision of “living in harmony with nature by 2050”.

This confirms the urgent need for all actors to be involved in the transformation of biodiversity protection.

COP15 needs to deliver:

  • Adoption of an equitable and comprehensive framework matched by the resources needed for implementation
  • Clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragementation and unstainable agricultural practices
  • A plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous people and recognises their contributions as stewards of nature
  • Finance to biodiversity and alignment of financial flow with nature to drive finance towards sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones

The UK and other countries are pressing for targets including protecting 30% of the world's land and seas by 2030, halting species extinctions and agreeing funding to help pay for it. However previous goals set in 2010 have not been met so delivery will be a focus on any new aims.

It is hoped that the increased urgency on protection of biodiversity will enable stronger delivery. A UN – backed study released ahead of the original 2020 date for the COP showed up to a million species were at risk of extinction within many decades.

The CEO of the Wildlife Trust Craig Bennett has stated:

"COP15 comes at a critical moment - our future on earth relies on restoring natural habitats to store carbon and help us adapt to climate change.

"World leaders must agree legally binding targets for nature's recovery, and quickly develop plans for how that will be achieved. If not, we could see the collapse of whole ecosystems and a huge number of species go extinct."

Key outcome needed:

It will be necessary to examine the way that all people act, and how businesses conduct themselves. Greater regulation and support in transition, just as it is arising in relation to climate, has to be created and enforced. Governance of our planet is now a case of survival.

Further Reading