COP15: UN summit reaches deal to protect world’s land and seas despite objections

key points
  • The COP15 conference reached agreement on an agreement that could protect 30% of the world’s land and seas.
  • China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment, Huang Runqiu, dropped the official gavel and declared a proposed deal approved.
  • This happened despite objections from key African nations.
A UN summit has approved a historic global deal to protect nature and direct billions of dollars towards conservation, but objections from key African nations, home to vast swathes of rainforest, have muddied the passage end
Reflecting the joint leadership of China and Canada, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is the culmination of four years of work to create an agreement to guide global conservation efforts through 2030.
Countries attending the UN-backed COP15 biodiversity conference had been negotiating a proposed text on Sunday and talks on the finer points of the agreement stretched into Monday morning.
Delegates were able to reach consensus around the agreement’s higher goal of protecting 30 percent of the world’s land and seas by the end of the decade, a goal known informally as 30 for 30.

However, questions about the financing contributions of developed nations to developing countries appeared unresolved when delegates met to consider adopting the text.

With China holding the presidency of COP15, Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu appeared to ignore the objections of the delegation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lowering the gavel and declaring that the agreement had approved just minutes after they said they could not support the deal.
“Parties that are developed nations should provide resources to developing parties,” the Congolese representative said through a translator.
Huang then acknowledged Mexican remarks supporting the final deal and declared shortly after 3:30 a.m. (local time) that the deal had been adopted, drawing angry comments from other African delegations.
A representative of Cameroon said through a translator that the agreement was approved by force.
A Ugandan representative stated that he did not accept the spirit and manner in which the hammer fell and asked for a record that Uganda did not support the proceedings, citing fraud.

A closing meeting will be held later on Monday.

In addition to providing 30-for-30 support, the agreement also directs countries to allocate US$298 billion ($200 billion) annually for both public and private sector biodiversity initiatives.
Developed countries will provide US$37 billion (US$25 billion) in annual funding from 2025 and US$45 billion (US$30 billion) per year by 2030.
The agreement, which contains 23 targets in total, replaces the failed 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets that were meant to guide conservation until 2020.
None of these goals were achieved and no country met the 20 Aichi Goals within its borders.

Unlike Aichi, the agreement contains more quantifiable targets, such as reducing harmful subsidies given to the industry by at least $744 billion ($500 billion) a year, which should make it easier to monitor and progress information.

People stand and applaud at a United Nations meeting on biodiversity.

Participants applaud at a plenary meeting of the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) in Montreal, Canada, on December 19, 2022. Source: Getty / LARS HAGBERG / AFP

More than a million species could disappear by the end of the century in what scientists have called a sixth mass extinction event.

Up to 40% of the world’s land has been degraded and the size of wildlife populations has declined dramatically since 1970.
The investment firms focused on a goal of the agreement that recommended that companies analyze and report how their operations affect and are affected by biodiversity issues.

The parties agreed that large companies and financial institutions would be subject to “requirements” to make disclosures about their operations, supply chains and portfolios, but the word “required” was removed from earlier drafts.

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