Montreal COP15

Montreal COP15 biodiversity logo

Biodiversity is hard to measure, poorly understood, mobile, mostly invisible and inherently complex. The last COP9 agreement, from 2010, was an abject failure, where not a single target was reached. A key focus of the recent Montreal global biodiversity conference, COP15 (held jointly with Kunming, China), was ‘30×30’: protecting at least 30% of land and sea by 2030.

Just before Christmas, the meeting secured an historic global framework (The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework) to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030.  This was apparently forced through by the Chinese president, ignoring objections from some African states who wanted the creation of a new biodiversity fund. It is a commitment to take urgent action to halt extinctions, recover populations, and protect and restore ecosystems by the end of the decade. This goes above and beyond the ambition of the previous targets and recognises the urgent need to stop things getting worse – but importantly – also to push for recovery. It could be a landmark moment. 

The key goals and targets of the framework include:

  • Species: to take urgent action to significantly reduce extinction risk by 2030. This is on top of goals to tackle extinction risk and recover species abundance by 2050. The commitments could be more concrete, but the framework makes species recovery a clear pillar of the framework. 
  • Ecosystems: to effectively conserve and manage 30% of marine areas, as well as a target to restore at least 30% of degraded ecosystems.
  • Finance: to increase funding and to develop a new fund to support the framework.

The ‘implementation mechanism’ is designed to underpin the framework with a clear agreed structure for how countries will make national plans and monitor, report and review their progress. This part of the package is definitely stronger than the last framework but has limitations. Vigilance is needed to ensure that countries respect deadlines for submitting plans and reports, and step up their action and implementation across the decade. The agreement could signal major changes to farming, business supply chains and the role of indigenous communities in conservation.

This means we must transition to food production and other non-food land uses (eg forestry ) that protect the environment, soil and water while minimising inputs, impacting the pesticide and fertiliser companies. Targets are needed for the reduction of harmful subsidies (by €500 billion per year), plus controls to stop the spread of alien invasive species, and protect access to green spaces in urban areas.

Some important weaknesses must be recognized: it is essential that new protected areas are located in the most important places for nature and are effectively managed. There are concerns about the inconsistencies in the measurable elements across the framework; and the lack of a concrete road map and verifiable timelines.

However, overall, this is a brilliant outcome and a strong base to create real future action for nature. A good-news story.

( Sources: RSPB, Birdlife, Guardian, Greennews )