Nearly a third of the planet will be protected by 2030 under a new agreement reached at the UN’s COP15 biodiversity summit.
“Last chance” delegates conferencein Canada, have pledged that at least 30% of the world’s land, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans will be subject to conservation action over the next eight years.
As part of the commitment, particular attention will be paid to areas deemed important for biodiversity, including tropical rainforests.
Currently, 17% and 10% of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas respectively are under protection.
Countries participating in the UN biodiversity The conference agreed on a total of 23 targets, including halving global food waste and reducing or phasing out more than £400 billion of nature-damaging government subsidies a year by the end of the day. end of the decade.
This follows a late objection from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose delegates raised concerns about contributions from developed countries to fund conservation in developing countries.
The African Nation delegates had suggested that developed countries should “provide resources” to developing countries to help them in their conservation efforts.
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But the agreement was adopted by the chairman of the conference, the Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment, Huang Runqiu, on Monday morning.
The conference was chaired by China, but is being held in Canada due to strict COVID-19 restrictions in the host country.
The main commitments of the COP15 biodiversity summit
- Protect 30% of the world’s land, seas, coasts and inland waters by 2030 – especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions
- Halve global food waste by 2030
- Reducing the loss of wildlife-rich habitat areas to “almost zero”
- Cut $500bn (£411.7bn) a year in government subsidies that harm nature
- Eliminate, minimise, reduce and/or mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity and the establishment of other known or potential invasive alien species by at least 50%, by 2030
The deal was welcomed by some, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Sue Lieberman, who said it had “some really positive elements”, while the Green Party welcomed the deal but warned the UK government and others now had to “come to terms”. making promises a reality”.
But others wondered if he had gone far enough. Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, called the deal “too weak”.
He tweeted: “Endgame in Montreal, but plans too weak, of which 30% target, of which now not 30% protected on land & 30% on sea but 30% overall.
“Also, the species content is too low in terms of extinction and abundance. Calls for ambition in funding must be accompanied by stronger ambition for nature restoration.”
Meanwhile, Will McCallum, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Governments like the UK that fought for stronger language under the 30×30 target must channel any frustration with the outcome by giving The example.
“We need properly protected ocean sanctuaries and large tracts of land managed for nature, to show the world that restoring biodiversity unlocks jobs in rural and remote areas, keeps our food system resilient and ensures we are all more able to withstand the impacts that climate change is already having.”
Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive of WWF International, added: “Agreeing on a shared global goal that will guide collective and immediate action to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 is an exceptional feat for those who negotiated the global biodiversity framework, and a win for people and planet.
“It sends a clear signal and must be the launching pad for action by governments, business and society to shift to a nature-friendly world, in support of climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals. “
He said the agreement represented “a major step for the conservation of our natural world”, but warned that the agreement could be “undermined by slow implementation and failure to mobilize promised resources”.
Biodiversity deal comes just in time for nature
Nature is not only nice to have, it is our life support. Our food depends on pollinating insects, our oxygen comes from trees and plankton, and many of our medicines are derived from plants.
So the agreement reached at the United Nations Biodiversity Summit in Montreal really matters.
There are 23 goals in all, but the most eye-catching is the protection given to 30% of land and oceans by 2030, with priority given to areas most important for biodiversity.
This should mean that ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activity are beginning to recover. And the decline in the abundance and variety of life on our planet should stop and begin to reverse by 2030.
The deal came just in time. Wildlife populations have fallen by almost 70% in the past 50 years, according to the latest Living Planet Index from conservation charities WWF and Zoological Society of London.
One million species are threatened with extinction, potentially the greatest loss of life since the dinosaurs. And humans and their livestock now make up 96% of all mammalian biomass on Earth. Yes, only 4% of all mammals by weight are wild.
Humanity has indeed trampled all of nature. But having an agreement is not the same as acting. The agreement could be undermined by countries that drag their feet.
They will need to quickly identify and set aside conservation areas. And richer nations will have to fulfill their pledges of money to help developing countries protect biodiversity.
On paper, this is a landmark deal for nature. But it is in the forests, rivers and coral reefs that it must make the difference.