The Importance Of COP15 And The 30×30 Target

By Vincent Diringer

Lacking the fanfare and media reach of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) that was held in Montreal just weeks later was a more lowkey affair. Created at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the CBD’s role is to promote sustainable development by protecting worldwide biodiversity and the ecosystem services they support [1]. Although the complex relationships that dictate the world’s ecological balance are still far from being completely understood, the link between nature and climate has been clear for some time [2, 3]. 

With the UNFCCC COPs steadily building on international climate policy and tackling issues related to finance and governance, the CBD COPs have taken on more importance as the awareness about the link between biodiversity and climate grows. As Zoë Quiroz Cullen, Director, Climate & Nature Linkages at Fauna & Flora International explains, “Because of the inextricable connections between climate and nature, many of the actions needed to meet the 2030 action targets around biodiversity loss, will, if implemented effectively, also work towards climate change targets” [4].

2022 Biodiversity Conference

Delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBD COP15 was highly anticipated by those within the conservation sector and the emerging nature-based solutions industry. On the agenda were several discussions on pollinator protection, agricultural practices, forestry, and marine spaces — but the biggest item was an ambitious plan to protect 30% of the world’s natural areas by 2030 [5]. With worldwide conservation levels at 17% for land and 8% for oceans, this so-called 30 by 30 (30×30) target would require a large amount of tangible commitments from national governments worldwide – including frameworks for funding, monitoring, reporting, and active protection of natural areas.

The benefits however were very clear, with a successfully implemented 30 by 30 potentially:

  • Safeguarding 500 gigatonnes of carbon stored in vegetation and soils;
  • Reducing the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks like COVID-19;
  • Supporting 30 million jobs and US$500b of GDP in ecotourism and sustainable fisheries; 
  • Restoring depleted fishing grounds and fish populations by 600 per cent; and 
  • Increasing food security and improving local economies. [6]

This, in addition to building up the resilience of Global South nations (where most biodiversity hotspots are found) by maximizing blue/green economic opportunities helped drive support for the project, which was eventually agreed to in Montreal at the end of CBD COP15. 

The 30×30 Target

Questions remain as to how to implement the agreed upon protection area targets. However, the biggest hurdle could be finance. While some funds were unlocked, targeted investments must be made to help nations transition towards sustainable practices and nature-based solutions; initial estimates put the funding gap at roughly $700 billion [7].

As Tijn Tjoelker, an Executive at Climate Cleanup tells ClimaTalk, finance for sustainable solutions aren’t always straightforward, instead “it’s a fundamental challenge of financing [nature-based solutions], a lot of financial institutions look at risk and working with nature there is an inherent uncertainty – you cannot control nature” [8]. With major financing and accountability gaps elsewhere within international climate action, will the 30×30 target fall prey to similar issues [9]? Only time will tell, but based on other major projects like REDD+, results will fall on both ends of the spectrum.

Fundamentally however, the new biodiversity target has the ability to tackle the multi-faceted and intertwined threats of biodiversity loss and climate impacts in vulnerable countries. “The 30×30 goal allows our nations to inject much needed resilience into our natural ecosystems to ensure that our people, culture and economies have a fighting chance in responding to climate change,” expressed Caribbean diplomats Matthew Samuda and Simon Stiell in the months leading up to the summit “Effectively managing our natural assets also ensures that our nations collectively build and learn together to advance beyond our current vulnerabilities and lay the foundation urgently needed to support achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” [6].

Climate action cannot happen without protecting and conserving biodiversity. Failing to act on biodiversity is a failure of leadership to act on climate, and vice versa — especially considering how the environment underpins every system on earth [10]. COP15 and the 30×30 target are taking an ambitious step towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. When considering the link between climate and biodiversity and the policy-based nature of the Paris Agreement, there has been an inherent need for biodiversity-centric climate action [2, 3, 5, 10]. In this regard, the 30×30 target has the capacity to be one of the most impactful policies undertaken.

[1] Convention on Biological Diversity, 2023, “The Convention on Biological Diversity”, URL: [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[2] Hautier, Y., Tilman, D., Isbell, F., Seabloom, E. W., Borer, E. T., & Reich, P. B., 2015, “Anthropogenic environmental changes affect ecosystem stability via biodiversity”. Science 348 (6232), pp. 336–340,   
[3] Fjeldsaå, J., Lovett, J.C., 1997, “Biodiversity and environmental stability”, Biodiversity and Conservation 6, 315–323. 
[4] Zoë Quiroz Cullen, 2023, “On climate & biodiversity, where are we, post-COP15?”, Mongabay, URL: [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[5] High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, 2022, “More than 100 Countries Now Formally Support the Global Target to Protect at least 30% of the Planet’s Land and Ocean by 2030”, URL: [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[6] Simon Stiell & Matthew Samuda, 2022, “Caribbean 30×30 target: Protecting nature to protect future”, Eyewitness News Bahamas, URL:×30-target-protecting-nature-to-protect-to-future-we-want   [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[7] Catrin Einhorn, 2022, “Nearly Every Country Signs On to a Sweeping Deal to Protect Nature”, The New York Times, URL:×30.html  [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[8] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “In Conversation With: Tijn Tjoelker”, ClimaTalk, URL: [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[9] Jocelyn Timperley, 2021, “The broken $100-billion promise of climate finance — and how to fix it”, Nature, URL: [Accessed January 31, 2023]
[10] Vincent Diringer, 2020, “The Link between Climate Change, the Environment, and our Health.”, Impakter, URL: [Accessed January 31, 2023]

Categories Biodiversity

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