COP15 Reaches Historic Landmark
The UN conference, hosted in Montreal, jointly chaired by both China and Canada, has come to an agreement with almost 200 countries to protect nature. Countries have pledged to protect almost ⅓ of the world’s lands and oceans, with 30% of land and water that is considered important for biodiversity being earmarked for protection by 2030. The pact is known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
This historic landmark has been met with great applause as only 17% of land and 10% of seas are currently protected, causing despair for scientists and climate activists wishing to protect wildlife and biodiversity. The UN biodiversity summit has even been widely regarded as the last opportunity to help nature recover after significant losses in biodiversity these past few decades.
COP15 was meant to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. At this time, the UN released a report highlighting that up to 1,000,000 species are at risk of extinction. Some of these species could even be extinct within the next couple of decades with no further action. A global conservation goal has been desperately needed if we have any chance of safeguarding biodiversity. The 30% goal posts give scientists a workable range within which they can make a difference.
Why is biodiversity so important? Not only does it ensure that a wide range of plants and organisms are able to thrive, but it helps support human life too. Right down to the microorganisms that support the environments within which we live (and the ones we don’t), biodiversity provides us with sufficient air and food. It helps protect our waters, soil, nutrients, pollution absorption, ecosystem maintenance and recovery from unpredictable events. Our quality of life, and that of Earth, depends on it.
Naturally, with big changes comes big financial costs. The action has called for $200 billion to be raised by 2030, as well as reforming subsidies to provide a further $500 billion. Developing nations were reluctant to agree to this effort and the Democratic Republic of Congo did not back the deal of financial concerns, but developed nations agreed to foot the bill for them to at least $20 billion a year by 2025, which will increase to $30 billion by 2030.
Some people have estimated the costs of these measures to be anywhere between $598 billion and $824 billion a year in order to have any meaningful impact on a reduction in biodiversity. Developing countries walked out of talks over the issue of funding last week. Other countries in Africa and Latin America were sceptical about the generation of funds, pointing out that developed countries have failed to meet their financial agreements in terms of climate change.
While praise has been given to the framework, it doesn’t necessarily go far enough. While the finance is now in place, there needs to be a real effort in addressing the causes of biodiversity loss in different sectors, such agriculture, fisheries and the like. The next summit is due to be held in 2024 and is expected to go even further than Montreal.