Historic biodiversity deal approved at COP15 summit in Canada

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Montreal: After four years of fraught negotiations, nearly 200 countries, including India, approved a historic “Paris-style” deal to protect and reverse damage to global biodiversity following an intense final session of negotiations at the UN COP15 summit early on Monday.

Amid loud applause from assembled delegates, the president of the COP15 biodiversity summit, Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, declared the Kunming-Montreal Agreement adopted.

The chair overruled Congo which had refused to back the text and demanded greater funding for developing countries as part of the accord.

The Chinese-brokered deal is aimed at saving the lands, oceans, and species from pollution, degradation, and climate change.

One of the most contentious issues in the negotiations was the finance package to support conservation efforts globally, particularly in developing countries.

The deal commits to progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources by 2030, mobilising at least USD 200 billion per year. This represents roughly a doubling from a 2020 baseline.

A major achievement is also the commitment to USD 20 billion in international finance flows by 2025 and USD 30 billion by 2030.

The 23 targets in the accord also include cutting environmentally destructive farming subsidies, reducing the risk from pesticides, and tackling invasive species.

The deal is being compared by many to the landmark plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement.

While environment groups welcomed the potentially transformative impacts the new agreement could have, many still feel that crucial details around finance and conservation are missing.

“Agreeing on a shared global goal that will guide collective and immediate action to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 is an exceptional feat for those that have been negotiating the Global Biodiversity Framework, and a win for people and planet,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.

“It sends a clear signal and must be the launch pad for action from governments, business, and society to transition towards a nature-positive world, in support of climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Lambertini said.

“It is the equivalent to 1.5 degrees Celsius in climate and vital to catalysing action toward a nature-positive world and holding everyone accountable,” he added.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, the CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, said the agreement reached is a significant breakthrough for biodiversity.

“It reflects never-before-seen recognition from countries at all income levels that biodiversity loss must be stopped through high-ambition changes to our society’s relationship with nature and the way our global economy operates,” Rodriguez said.

“It also reflects a determination from political leaders around the world to make this happen,” he added.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) welcomed the agreement reached at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to agree on a new plan to preserve and protect nature with the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

“This agreement means people around the world can hope for real progress to halt biodiversity loss and protect and restore our lands and seas in a way that safeguards our planet and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities,” UN Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner.

Nearing the conclusion of a sometimes fractious two-week meeting from December 7 to December 19, nations agreed on a historic package of measures deemed critical to addressing the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restoring natural ecosystems.

Convened under UN auspices, chaired by China and hosted by Canada, the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), including four goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030.

Among the global targets for 2030 are the effective conservation and management of at least 30 per cent of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and oceans, with emphasis on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services.

Currently, 17 and 10 per cent of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas respectively are under protection.

The deal also aims to reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity and cut global food waste in half and significantly reduce overconsumption and waste generation.

It also intends to cut by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals.

The agreement will progressively phase out or reform 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least USD 500 billion per year while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

The deal requires large and transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies, and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains, and portfolios.

“Without such action, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years,” the GBF warned.

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