COP15: Historic deal to protect a third of the world’s biodiversity

Photo: EEAS

Negotiators reached a landmark agreement Monday at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) to protect 30 percent of the planet’s lands, coastal areas and inland waters by 2030.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework “represents but a first step in resetting our relationship with the natural world,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), speaking during the closing plenary. 

The Framework aims to cut food waste in half.

“Now is our chance to shore up and strengthen the web of life, so it can carry the full weight of generations to come,” she added. 

“Actions that we take for nature are actions to reduce poverty; they are actions to achieve the sustainable development goals; they are actions to improve human health.” 

The head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, described the agreement as “historic”, urging countries to take it forward. 

“This agreement means people around the world can hope for real progress to halt biodiversity loss and protect and restore our lands and seas in a way that safeguards our planet and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities,” he said. 

Steiner underlined commitment to “turning this blueprint into reality” through the ‘UNDP Nature Pledge’, which will support more than 140 countries. 

“We are ready for action. UNDP is there to deliver the systemic changes that can shift the needle on our nature crisis,” he said. 

“Biodiversity is interconnected, intertwined, and indivisible with human life on Earth. Our societies and our economies depend on healthy and functioning ecosystems. There is no sustainable development without biodiversity. There can be no stable climate without biodiversity.” 

Speaking to reporters in an end-of-year press conference in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agreement showed that “we are finally starting to form a peace pact with nature”, urging all countries to deliver on their promises. 

COP15 also saw the launch of a platform to help countries to ramp up implementation of the Framework. 

Twenty-three countries, led by Colombia and supported by Germany, signed a declaration establishing the Accelerator Partnership to support governments in fast tracking implementation of their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).  

Aims include facilitating access to financial and technical support, developing institutional capacity tailored to different levels and national needs, and promoting dialogue. 

Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity Convention, welcomed the development. 

“Urgent action is needed to, not only jumpstart implementation of the new global biodiversity framework, but also to continue to accelerate and upscale implementation of NBSAPs as we work together towards realising the shared vision of living in harmony with nature and securing a sustainable future for all,” she said. 

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