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Credit: Richard Du Toit/NaturePL

Credit: Richard Du Toit/NaturePL

What happened at COP15? Fauna & Flora’s reaction to the new deal for nature

Key points from the CBD COP15 negotiations in Montreal


Protecting 30% of the planet for nature by 2030

At COP15, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which outlines 23 targets to be met by 2030 was finally agreed upon. It acts as a global strategy to collaboratively protect and restore nature and secure ecosystem health for future generations, while importantly recognising the rights of Indigenous peoples. 

Did COP15 have a Paris moment?

Within the framework, an overall goal comparable to the Paris agreement on climate change– to limit global warming to 1.5°c – has been set to halt and reverse the global loss of biodiversity.  A flagship outcome of the new biodiversity deal commits governments to protect 30% of land and water by 2030, popularly referred to as the ‘30 by 30’ target.  

Whilst there is a sense of relief that a Global Biodiversity Framework has been agreed upon and that the world now has targets for 2030, there are still concerns. As previously highlighted, FFI is focused on the quality and sustainability of how the ‘30 by 30’ protected areas will be managed, not just on the quantity of land that will be protected. 

“I don’t believe we’ve had a Paris moment, but now more than ever we’re circling the Paris ring road. We need to give the framework a chance, hoping it is enough to pull everyone – governments, businesses and citizens – in the same direction to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030”

What about the role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities?

The Global Biodiversity Framework includes regular acknowledgement of the important roles and rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities when implementing protected areas for nature. 

There is also a direct recognition of diverse value sets around nature. As a result, it feels like a more inclusive set of targets than previously, with acknowledgement of the role of all of society, and particularly those living closest to areas of high biodiversity, in reaching these goals. In particular, the explicit recognition of Indigenous and traditional territories in the 30 by 30 target, along with the importance of equitable governance and sustainable use, will be important in ensuring that nature conservation and Indigenous rights can be better aligned. 

indigenous people local community conservation cop15

The involvement of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities is crucial for the sustainable management of protected areas for nature. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI

What didn’t we see from COP15 negotiations?

More transparency from the corporate sector 

Target 15 aims to increase transparency in the corporate sector to account for impacts on biodiversity as a result of their activities, as well as increasing their positive impacts to eventually become ‘nature-positive’. We welcome the focus on enabling and encouraging businesses to ensure transparency and disclosure of their impacts on nature – but are disappointed that this did not go further, in terms of requiring this from the corporate sector. We also welcome the fact that Target 18 still has a clear focus on removing the harmful subsidies that undermine the protection of nature, although the wording incorporates some compromises. 

Explicit references to the significance of ocean health 

More than three billion people worldwide rely on the ocean to provide their main source of protein. It is vitally important that the abundance of marine resources is sustained, particularly through the sustainable management of fisheries. 
It was positive to see governments agree to mention fisheries explicitly in Target 10, emphasising the need for these to be managed sustainably, alongside agriculture, forestry and aquaculture. Given the overwhelming planetary importance of ocean health, there could have been more explicit marine references – nonetheless, most targets will be relevant to marine biodiversity, just as much as on land. 

Sustainable blue economy

The sustainable management of fisheries is vital for the health of ocean ecosystems. Credit: Otto Mejía

What needs to happen to ensure the new targets are met?

The biggest risk in the new COP15 framework will be delivery. Countries have failed to deliver against previous targets, and it is not clear that this will be any different, given that the same basic infrastructure for delivery and reporting is being employed, and clarity is lacking about the timescale for mobilising initial implementation plans. This could potentially jeopardise 30×30, as well as the 22 other targets in the framework that are critical for putting biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030.  

How will the targets be financed?

The biggest hurdle to effective delivery will, as always, be finance, and we noted a distinct lack of ambition in this regard. While recognising the need to be applying some $700 billion a year to protect and restore nature, the agreed target of mobilising some $20 billion rising to $30 billion of financial flow from developed to developing countries seems paltry by comparison. This is to be balanced by a range of complementary funding mechanisms – private finance and innovative funding – leaving a great deal hanging on the success and scalability of such approaches. 

 Ultimately, the extent to which the Global Biodiversity Framework succeeds in halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity and helping to combat climate change depends on the commitment and goodwill of government, corporates and individuals to live up to the spirit of the framework’s ambitions, and change the way decisions are currently being made about nature.