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SSCA's reflections on COP15: UN Biodiversity Conference

Nick Read

10 Jan 2023

Not to be confused with COP 27 on Climate Change which was held in Egypt in November, Montreal has recently hosted COP 15 (or the 15th Conference of the Parties) to the United National Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention was signed in 1992 and adopted by every member state except the United States, which has signed but never ratified the treaty. COP 15 was due to be hosted by China, who still provided the Chair, but was held in Montreal because of the strict Covid-19 restrictions that China had been operating.

The most important outcome of the conference was a commitment to significantly extend the level of protection of ecosystems from the current 17% and 10% of the world’s terrestrial and ocean areas respectively to at least 30% of the world’s land, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans (sometimes referred to as the 30x30 target) by the year 2030.

Special attention is to be paid to areas deemed to be important for biodiversity, such as tropical rain forest.There were 23 targets agreed, including:

  • Halving global food waste by 2030

  • Reducing government subsidies that harm nature by $500 billion a year

  • Reducing to “near zero” the loss of areas of wildlife-rich habitat

  • Minimizing, reducing or mitigating the effects of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030

  • There is a also a commitment to support developing countries financially to help implement some of these measures.

Whilst broadly welcomed by environmental campaigners there is still concern that the words will not be matched by actions, but at least the words have been agreed.

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