COP15: UN Biodiversity summit ends with global agreement on biodiversity protection, yet questions remain as to its implementation
by Vincent Diringer
Right on the heels of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD COP15) took place in Montreal, Canada between December 7th and 19th. Delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, COP15 was highly anticipated, especially considering the intrinsic link between climate change and biodiversity. “Biodiversity is affected by climate change, with negative consequences for human well-being, but biodiversity, through the ecosystem services it supports, also makes an important contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation,” notes the UN Convention on Biodiversity , “Consequently, conserving and sustainably managing biodiversity is critical to addressing climate change.”
Results of COP15
Heading into the CBD COP15 all eyes were on the 30 by 30 target, an ambitious goal that set out to protect 30% of the planet’s natural areas – both land and sea – by 2030 . With over 100 countries pledging their support to the 30×30 since it gained momentum at COP26, the UN CBD COP15 would provide an opportunity to set up the framework and details to meet it. Despite some initial disagreements on funding that saw one of the campaign’s co-chairs, France, allegedly block finance efforts, and representatives of Global South nations walk out of negotiations due to what they perceived as a lack of seriousness from its Northern counterparts – a deal was eventually struck [3,4]. The final agreement includes :
- Targets to protect 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade;
- Reform $500 billion USD of environmentally damaging subsidies; and
- Restore 30% of the planet’s degraded terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems.
This marks the first landmark deal to protect biodiversity at a global level, and could go a long way in helping reduce carbon emissions, mitigate climate change, and provide opportunities for developing nations to build blue/green economies focused on maximizing sustainable use of natural resources through conservation . There remain some questions and criticisms as to the role (or lack thereof) of indigenous communities, ambiguity as to finance gaps and relatively low overall funding as well as the monitoring and accountability for meeting key milestones towards goals .
References: Convention on Biodiversity, 2021, URL: “Climate Change and Biodiversity”, URL: https://www.cbd.int/climate/ ; [Accessed December 19, 2022].
 High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, 2022, “Why 30×30?”, URL: https://www.hacfornatureandpeople.org/why-30×30 ; [Accessed December 19, 2022].
 Kira Taylor, 2022, “Pressure mounts on EU to maintain ambition on biodiversity at COP15”, EURACTIV, URL: https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/pressure-mounts-on-eu-to-maintain-ambition-on-biodiversity-at-cop15/ ; [Accessed December 19, 2022].
 Patrick Greenfield & Phoebe Weston, 2022, “Walkouts and tensions as row over finance threatens to derail Cop15 talks”, The Guardian, URL: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/14/walkouts-and-tensions-as-row-over-finance-threatens-to-derail-cop15-talks ; [Accessed December 19, 2022].
 Patrick Greenfield & Phoebe Weston, 2022, “Cop15: historic deal struck to halt biodiversity loss by 2030”, The Guardian, URL: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/19/cop15-historic-deal-signed-to-halt-biodiversity-loss-by-2030-aoe ;
[Accessed December 19, 2022].
 Simon Stiell & Matthew Samuda, 2022, “Caribbean 30×30 target: Protecting nature to protect future”, Jamaica Gleaner, URL: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20220327/simon-stiell-and-matthew-samuda-caribbean-30×30-target-protecting-nature ; [Accessed December 19, 2022].
 Greenpeace International, 2022, “COP15 recognises Indigenous Peoples’ work, but won’t disarm the threat of mass extinction”, URL: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/57688/cop15-indigenous-peoples-rights-threat-mass-extinction-biodiversity-nature/ ; [Accessed December 19, 2022].