UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15)

COP 15 CBD (Convention on Biodiversity) was organized from 7-19 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. For this occasion   delegates from more than 190 countries and representatives from expert organizations and civil society groups  came together to agree on a new set of goals to guide global action through 2030 to halt and reverse nature loss.

Initially COP 15 was supposed to be organized in Kunming, China, but as it was repeatedly postponed due to the global pandemic, eventually, it was moved to Montréal in 2022. 

Nature protection is critical to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. Adoption of a global biodiversity framework that addresses the key drivers of nature loss is needed to secure our own health and well-being alongside that of the planet.

The main aspects of COP 15 are:

  • Adoption of an equitable and comprehensive framework matched by the resources needed for implementation
  • Clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation and unsustainable agricultural practices
  • A plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature
  • Finance for biodiversity and alignment of financial flows with nature to drive finances toward sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones

5 key drivers of the nature crisis

Human activity is pushing one million species of plants and animals towards extinction, yet over half the world’s GDP is dependent on nature.

The top five drivers of nature loss, identified by the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report.

  1. Changes in land and sea use
  2. Climate change
  3. Pollution
  4. Direct exploitation of natural resources
  5. Invasive species

Science has never been more straightforward: biodiversity – and humanity’s health and livelihoods – cannot wait another decade. “Biodiversity loss and the climate crisis are interconnected – they are issues of the same origin, but reflected in different ways,” said Oluwaseun Adekubge, the Managing Director of Youth4Nature. “Whatever the agreement of COP15 is should tackle biodiversity loss in a holistic way, including the interface with climate and respecting human rights, and taking into consideration intergenerational equity.

COP15 ends with landmark biodiversity agreement

Cop 15 ended with a landmark agreement to guide global action on nature through to 2030. Chaired by China and hosted by Canada, COP 15 resulted in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) on the last day of negotiations. The GBF aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. The plan includes concrete measures to halt and reverse nature loss, including putting 30 per cent of the planet and 30 per cent of degraded ecosystems under protection by 2030. It also contains proposals to increase finance to developing countries – a major sticking point during talks.

The Global Biodiversity Framework is adopted at COP 15. Photo by CBD

Without a doubt, the most significant element of this target is the strong language for the rights, territories and contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities – a decisive first step away from fortress conservation and toward holistic practices.

For us, it’s a major shift: they recognize this important role that was invisible. This is incredibly significant, as, without the inclusion [of Indigenous Peoples’ rights], we could suffer human rights violations in the name of conservation,” said Viviana Figueroa from the Omaguaca-Kolla peoples in Argentina, speaking on behalf of IIFB. Despite the very much welcomed rhetoric of centering Indigenous Peoples in conservation efforts, we cannot neglect that almost six decades were needed to get protected areas covering 17% of the Earth without delivering qualitative results for habitats and species. And the truth is that this history has a poor track record of respecting people’s rights – a lot needs to change.


The Global Biodiversity Framework

The GBF consists of four overarching global goals to protect nature, including: halting human-induced extinction of threatened species and reducing the rate of extinction of all species tenfold by 2050. Sustainable use and management of biodiversity to ensure that nature’s contributions to people are valued, maintained and enhanced; fair sharing of the benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources; and that adequate means of implementing the GBF be accessible to all Parties, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

GBF 23 targets to achieve by 2030:

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Executive Director, Inger Andersen, emphasized that implementation is now key: “Success will be measured by our rapid and consistent progress in implementing what we have agreed to. The entire UN system is geared to support its implementation so we can truly make peace with nature.”

The GBF also features 23 targets to achieve by 2030, including:

  • Effective conservation and management of at least 30 per cent of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans. Currently, 17 percent of land and *8 per cent of marine areas are under protection
  • Restoration of 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems
  • Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance and high ecological integrity
  • Halving global food waste
  • Phasing out or reforming subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
  • Mobilizing at least $200 billion per year from public and private sources for biodiversity-related funding
  • Raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries to at least US$ 30 billion per year
  • Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply and value chains


Finance at the core

Finance played a key role at COP15, with discussions centring on how much money developed countries will send to developing countries to address biodiversity loss. It was requested that the Global Environment Facility set up a Special Trust Fund – the GBF Fund – to support the implementation of the GBF, in order to ensure an adequate, predictable and timely flow of funds.