Nearly a third of the world’s land and sea, from peat bogs to coral reefs, will be protected by the end of this decade under a landmark global nature treaty.
The deal was struck in United’s late-night finale COP15 Biodiversity Summit held in Montreal, Canadasetting four global goals and 23 targets to “halt and reverse biodiversity loss” by 2030.
In addition to the so-called 30 x 30 targetThe agreement also includes a target for countries to cut subsidies deemed harmful to nature by $500 billion a year by 2030, such as those that support unsustainable agriculture or fisheries, and commits high-income countries to provide at least $30 billion for biodiversity financing.
At the conclusion of the meeting, COP15 chair Huang Runqiu said the agreement marked a “historic moment” in global efforts to protect nature, calling it “a package that we can all be proud of”.
The countries reached an agreement hours before the summit was scheduled to end on Nov. 19, almost unprecedented for a U.N. convention.
The early end belied the tense nature of two weeks of talks, which saw repeated strikes by countries dissatisfied with progress on core issues.
However, the summit has Delayed by two years due to covid-19and with delegates eager to get home in time for Christmas, attendees worked late into the night at the end of the sprint to agree on key areas.
The compromise text released by China as chair of the talks on Nov. 18 formed the basis for the final agreement. Shortly after 3:30 a.m., the gavel was knocked off the deal despite opposition from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the funding arrangement.
A breakthrough has been made for one of the most contentious items on the agenda, with countries agreeing to a new mechanism to share benefits Products built using genetic data from the world’s microbes, animals and plants.
In another key sticking point, biodiversity financing, countries aim to raise $200 billion a year in public and private funding by the end of the decade, with high-income countries contributing at least $30 billion a year.
In addition to targeted reductions in harmful subsidies, these flows are theoretically sufficient to close the $700 billion annual funding gap to meet the goals of the eventual COP15 package.
Countries have also agreed to formally recognize rights of indigenous peoples And their role in achieving the 30 by 30 goal, which campaigners say is a key victory that will help reduce the risk of governments pushing people off land to meet the goal.
“Today we take a giant step forward in history,” Canada’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, told delegates.
But despite the progress, many will leave Montreal unhappy with the level of ambition contained in the deal.
The environmental group WWF has warned that the goal of reducing the rate of species extinction tenfold by 2050 is smaller than the goal reached by the United Nations a decade ago.
Meanwhile, the goal of halving the global consumption footprint has been boiled down to a call for people to “encourage and enable them to make sustainable consumption choices”.
There are also serious concerns that there is not enough in the agreement to keep countries on their promises.
None of the previous global biodiversity targets – Established in Aichi Prefecture, Japan in 2010 – Fully realized. At COP15, the next round of ambition was promised to set measurable, quantifiable targets and establish clear mechanisms to hold countries accountable for failing to meet them.
But observers say the final deal is weak in ensuring accountability, with vaguely worded targets lacking clear, quantifiable results that will make it harder to track countries’ progress.
“The main lesson of Aichi is that measurable targets are important to see concrete progress,” WWF’s Guido Broekhoven said at a news conference on Nov. 18, before the final agreement was adopted. “When the parties started working on this new framework, they learned that lesson. Unfortunately, they seem to have abandoned that approach now.”
A “ratchet” mechanism designed to require countries to raise their ambitions should a global review show they are not delivering on the deal as planned has been significantly weakened in the final stages of negotiations.
Ioannis Agapakis of environmental law firm ClientEarth said the package represented an “incremental improvement” compared with the Aichi targets, but still fell far short in ensuring countries met their commitments.
Still, countries cheered the global deal, likening it to nature’s climate treaty. “I think we are already strong enough to declare it to be nature’s Paris Agreement,” said Norway’s Environment Minister Espenbart Eid.
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