World leaders have agreed to a deal that sets a framework for halting nature loss. This includes steps to meet the ambitious goal of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030.
Early Monday morning, a deal was struck by more than 190 countries at the United Nations’ COP15 summit in Montreal. The event was meant to be held in China, but with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed and ultimately moved to Canada, with both nations serving as hosts. The aim of the summit was to address the biodiversity crisis, which is putting more than 1 million species at risk of extinction.
In addition to the pledge to protect 30% of the world’s lands and seas by 2030, Monday’s deal includes framework for reforming $500 billion of subsidies that harm the environment, restoring 30% of degraded ecosystems throughout the world, halting human-caused extinctions, protecting the rights of indigenous people, and increasing biodiversity funding to developing countries.
The funding was a bit of a sticking point for other nations, though, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is home to large swaths of tropical forests. Its delegation argued that developed nations should send more biodiversity funding to developing nations. It also pushed for a separate fund for biodiversity, which was not included. The delegation did not support the deal, nor did Uganda or Cameroon.
As it stands, developed countries will contribute $25 billion in funding annually beginning in 2025, with the contribution increasing to $30 billion per year by 2030.
The deal aims to address a growing crisis. According to the UN, human land use is the main cause of biodiversity loss, with our activity already impacting more than 70% of all ice-free land. This can lead animal and plant species to lose their habitat, which, in turn, puts their survival at risk. However, climate change is also worsening the issue, impacting ecosystems on land and in water. IUCN says nearly 11,000 of the species on its Red List of Threatened Species are known to be impacted by climate change.
The COP15 summit had been dubbed a “last chance” to help address these issues and get nature on the path to recovery, so the hope is that the COP15 agreement is a good step forward.
After the deal was struck, UN Secretary General António Guterres tweeted, “We are finally starting to forge a peace pact with nature. Delegates at #COP15 have agreed on a new Global Biodiversity Framework. This is an important step for determined diplomacy and I urge all countries to deliver on their commitments.”
The commitments are not legally binding.
The United States was not a participant because it is not a member of the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that would protect 30% of the country’s lands and waters by 2030. White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory also released a statement following the COP15 agreement.
She said, “Turning the corner on the biodiversity crisis will require urgent and sweeping global action. Together with our international partners, we can cultivate a global ecosystem where biodiversity flourishes, lands and waters are protected, and people have equitable access to all of nature’s benefits. Under President Biden’s leadership, the United States will continue our progress towards broad, equitable, and strong environmental stewardship, with continued global cooperation as our shared goal.”