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COP15: Biodiversity Negotiations in Montreal

Laura Puttkamer
Montreal
Photo: Anne Nygård via Unsplash

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COP27 is just over and the next COP is already on the agenda: COP15 in Montreal is about biodiversity. The aim of the UN conference is to develop a new set of rules to improve the protection of biodiversity worldwide. Read all about the conference here.

The importance of the biodiversity COP

According to the Living Planet Report 2022, the planet’s biodiversity has declined dramatically in recent decades. The average population size of wildlife worldwide has fallen by about 69% since 1970. This makes it even more important to address this crisis. COP15, which will be attended by the same Parties as the Climate Change Conference (last COP27 in November 2022), will focus on a new global treaty to promote biodiversity from 7 to 19 December in Montreal, Canada.

The long-awaited summit, which is held on a regular basis like the climate conferences, had to be postponed several times. It was originally planned for 2020 in Kunming, China. Due to the Corona pandemic, it was instead a two-part event. The first part took place in October 2021, followed by a second part in spring 2022. However, no agreement was reached. Therefore, the UN scheduled interim meetings in Nairobi. Due to the increasing corona numbers in China, the meeting will now take place in Canada.

The hope is to reach a global agreement to protect and enhance biodiversity like the Paris Climate Agreement. However, the focus is on habitats, ecosystems, plants, animals, and microorganisms. Biodiversity loss also threatens people by accelerating climate change and destroying food sources, among other things.

COP15 aims at stopping the loss of biodiversity by 2030. Photo: Alenka Skvarc via Unsplash

Expectations for COP15

Currently, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the most important set of rules on biodiversity. 196 countries – the COP Parties – have ratified it. The first draft dates to 1992, followed by a decision in 2010 on biodiversity targets to be implemented in the Decade of Biodiversity from 2010 to 2020. However, none of these targets could be met. Moreover, the pandemic has halted progress.

Therefore, the COP15 on biodiversity is now about updating the CBD and formulating new targets for the current Decade. Participants hope for a “Deal for Nature” that mandates an end to biodiversity loss and helps to support, accelerate, and put on political agendas efforts to improve ecosystems and habitats. The deadline for ending biodiversity loss is 2030, with some environmental groups arguing for an earlier date.

Measures to protect biodiversity

Unlike the COP climate conferences, the biodiversity conferences receive less media attention. Heads of government do not attend the conference. Calls to combine COP15 with COP27 have not been successful, as both conferences are already dealing with many issues in a short time. Delegates will discuss the following biodiversity protection measures starting this week:

  • Protection and conservation programmes for 30% of terrestrial and aquatic habitats
  • Stricter regulations to contain invasive species
  • Obligation for companies to report on impacts on biodiversity
  • Commitment to reduce pesticide use in agriculture
  • Reform or remove subsidies for industries that exploit nature
  • Cooperate with private donors to redirect environmentally damaging financial flows
  • Provide international funding for biodiversity and increase funding for low-income countries (annual increase of $200 billion)

So far, countries such as China, Russia, the USA, and India have held back on biodiversity COPs. However, a big win for the COP15 plan is already the re-election of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He is in favour of protecting the Brazilian rainforest.

Read more about biodiversity: This insect hotel in Linz, Austria, shows how to approach biodiversity in urban spaces.

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