Montreal to host delayed Cop15 summit to end ‘alarming’ global biodiversity loss

The date for a key UN nature summit has finally been confirmed after more than two years of delay and amid fears the momentum to halt biodiversity loss across the world has been lost.

Ahead of the latest round of negotiations in Nairobi this week, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity has confirmed that the Cop15 biodiversity conference will now take place in Montreal, Canada, from December 5-17, after it became clear that China would not be able to host the event in Kunming due to the country’s zero-Covid policy.

It comes after several pandemic-related delays to the meeting, which was due to take place in October 2020, and amid intense frustration with Beijing, which holds the presidency of an environmental agreement for the first time. Major of the United Nations.

Fears were mounting over the prohibitive cost for smaller countries to attend COP15 if it was held in China, as well as restrictions on civil society, indigenous groups and the press.

At COP15 – the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – governments will negotiate new targets to protect biodiversity for this decade. The agreement, ‘a Paris accord for nature’, aims to slow the endemic loss of biodiversity around the world and is part of the UN’s global plan that humanity should live in harmony with nature here. 2050. The summit was originally scheduled to take place in Kunming, China in October 2020, but after several delays the first in-person meeting is scheduled for December 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

Why is this a big problem?
Time is running out to act. An international group of scientists, including Professor Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, warned in January 2021 that the planet faces a “dreadful future of mass extinction, declining health and climate disruption” that threatens human survival. The world has failed to meet a single target agreed to ten years ago to stem the destruction of wildlife and vital ecosystems.

Are only governments worried?
No. At the 2021 World Economic Forum, business leaders said biodiversity loss was the third greatest existential or long-term threat to the world and was among the top five risks in terms of impact, alongside infectious diseases, failed climate action, weapons of mass destruction and natural resource crisis.

What could the Kunming agreement look like?
In January 2021, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity released a 21-point draft agreement. It commits signatories to protecting at least 30% of the planet, controlling invasive species and reducing pollution from plastic waste and excess nutrients by 50%. Governments have yet to properly negotiate draft targets.

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Questions and answers

What is the Kunming Biodiversity Conference?

Spectacle

At COP15 – the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – governments will negotiate new targets to protect biodiversity for this decade. The agreement, ‘a Paris accord for nature’, aims to slow the endemic loss of biodiversity around the world and is part of the UN’s global plan that humanity should live in harmony with nature here. 2050. The summit was originally scheduled to take place in Kunming, China in October 2020, but after several delays the first in-person meeting is scheduled for December 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

Why is this a big problem?
Time is running out to act. An international group of scientists, including Professor Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, warned in January 2021 that the planet faces a “dreadful future of mass extinction, declining health and climate disruption” that threatens human survival. The world has failed to meet a single target agreed to ten years ago to stem the destruction of wildlife and vital ecosystems.

Are only governments worried?
No. At the 2021 World Economic Forum, business leaders said biodiversity loss was the third greatest existential or long-term threat to the world and was among the top five risks in terms of impact, alongside infectious diseases, failed climate action, weapons of mass destruction and natural resource crisis.

What could the Kunming agreement look like?
In January 2021, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity released a 21-point draft agreement. It commits signatories to protecting at least 30% of the planet, controlling invasive species and reducing pollution from plastic waste and excess nutrients by 50%. Governments have yet to properly negotiate draft targets.

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At a meeting on Tuesday, officials approved the plan to host COP15 near the UN biodiversity headquarters in Quebec City. China will retain responsibility for hosting and organizing the event, and will do so in coordination with the Canadian government.

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, said the country was proud to host the conference. “There is an urgent need for international partners to halt and reverse the alarming loss of biodiversity around the world,” he said.

The decade-long nature summit will take place after COP27 in Egypt but will clash with the World Cup in Qatar, raising fears of a lack of attention and participation from senior politicians and ministers, which was an element key to Cop26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The final global biodiversity framework agreement is expected to be negotiated in the hours before the World Cup final on December 18.

At a parliamentary committee on Monday, UK environment ministers Lord Goldsmith and George Eustice declined to confirm whether the prime minister would attend, but said he was likely to play a role.

In a statement, China’s Environment Minister Huang Runqiu said the country wanted to underscore its strong and continued commitment to working with all parties and stakeholders to ensure the success of COP15.

A two-week meeting was held from Kunming in October ahead of the key summit, but most delegates attended virtually. Photo: Xinhua/Shutterstock

Negotiations of the deal are due to resume this week in Nairobi, Kenya, with major divisions over proposals to protect 30% of land and seas, money for biodiversity protection and the use of information from digital sequence to produce cosmetics, medicine and other products.

Governments have never achieved the goal of stopping the destruction of nature and there are fears that this agreement could be a repeat of what has happened before, amid concerns of a standoff with the north and the south of the world on resources to protect natural places.

In March, the end of the talks in Geneva saw a dramatic intervention by Gabon on behalf of a group of developing countries calling for $100bn (£80bn) in biodiversity funding on top of the $100bn climate finance dollars that caused divisions before Cop27.

Despite clarity on the date for Cop15, Oscar Soria, campaign manager for activism site Avaaz, said the talks had lost momentum and it was a lost opportunity to show leadership on environment.

“2020 was supposed to be China’s super year for nature; two years later, Beijing’s indecision has seriously undermined a diplomatic process aimed at halting biodiversity loss.

“Now this super year of failure can only be averted by the leadership of the UN. We only have a few months and a lot of diplomatic work needs to be done. And although it is now known when and where the next Cop takes place, a big question remains about China’s ability to effectively secure the presidency towards an ambitious deal for nature,” he said.

Li Shuo, policy adviser for Greenpeace China, said: “Governments have finally made a decision on where and when COP15 will be held. This should now focus everyone’s attention on the quality of the transaction. This means ambitious targets to ensure strong protection both on land and at sea and a strong set of implementation measures.

“The next preparatory session in Nairobi should see the countries move the draft agreement forward. The remaining months until COP15 should be used effectively to unlock contentious issues such as finance. »

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