UN conference concludes with ‘historic’ deal to protect a third of the world’s biodiversity
The UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, concluded early on Monday in Montreal, Canada, with a landmark agreement to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s lands, coastal areas and inland waters by the end of the decade.
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework also aims to cut food waste in half.
Calling it "a first step in resetting our relationship with the natural world," @Andersen_Inger welcomes adoption of Global Biodiversity Framework at #COP15, says success will be measured by rapid and consistent progress in implementation #ForNature. https://t.co/DnfynoShBiUNEP
COP15 was originally set to be held in Kunming, China, in October 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Strengthen the web of life’
The Framework, and its associated package of targets, goals and financing “represents but a first step in resetting our relationship with the natural world,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), speaking during the closing plenary.
“Now is our chance to shore up and strengthen the web of life, so it can carry the full weight of generations to come,” she added.
“Actions that we take for nature are actions to reduce poverty; they are actions to achieve the sustainable development goals; they are actions to improve human health.”
Protection and restoration
The head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, described the agreement as “historic”, urging countries to take it forward.
“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,” he said.
Mr. Steiner underlined commitment to “turning this blueprint into reality” through the ‘UNDP Nature Pledge’, which will support more than 140 countries.
“We are ready for action. UNDP is there to deliver the systemic changes that can shift the needle on our nature crisis,” he said.
“Biodiversity is interconnected, intertwined, and indivisible with human life on Earth. Our societies and our economies depend on healthy and functioning ecosystems. There is no sustainable development without biodiversity. There can be no stable climate without biodiversity.”
Speaking to reporters in an end-of-year press conference in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agreement showed that “we are finally starting to form a peace pact with nature”, urging all countries to deliver on their promises.
COP15 also saw the launch of a platform to help countries to ramp up implementation of the Framework.
Twenty-three countries, led by Colombia and supported by Germany, signed a declaration establishing the Accelerator Partnership to support governments in fast tracking implementation of their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).
Aims include facilitating access to financial and technical support, developing institutional capacity tailored to different levels and national needs, and promoting dialogue.
Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity Convention, welcomed the development.
“Urgent action is needed to, not only jumpstart implementation of the new global biodiversity framework, but also to continue to accelerate and upscale implementation of NBSAPs as we work together towards realizing the shared vision of living in harmony with nature and securing a sustainable future for all” she said.
The Accelerator Partnership was launched on Day 2 of the High-Level Segment at COP15.
Colombia and Germany, together with the UN Biodiversity Convention, UNEP and UNDP, will assist with the design, development, structuring, operationalization and monitoring of the mechanism.