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Countries Agree to Landmark Deal to Protect World’s Ecosystems


The UN biodiversity negotiations (COP15), held in Montreal, Canada and jointly hosted with China, concluded with delegates reaching an agreement to conserve 30 percent of the world’s land, ocean and waters by 2030.

Under the agreement, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, countries also agreed to restore 30 percent of the world’s degraded ecosystems by 2030, eliminate or phase out $500 billion of harmful environmental subsidies, and mobilize $200 billion annually by 2030 for biodiversity action, including $30 billion from wealthy countries to developing countries. Critically, the framework aims to ensure that Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ rights and knowledge are respected, including through their participation in decision-making.

Following is a statement by Craig Hanson, Managing Director of Programs, World Resources Institute:

“It’s a landmark moment to have nearly every country on Earth agree to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, which today faces an unprecedented crisis. Nature sustains all human life, underpins countries’ economies, and is vital to reining in climate change. We cannot achieve the 1.5 degrees climate goal without changing how humans treat nature. Yet the agreement is only as strong as countries’ political will to implement it, and countries now face the urgent task of turning these commitments into action.

“If implemented, the framework’s cornerstone goal to conserve at least 30 percent of the world’s land, ocean and waters could play a critical role in halting species loss and protecting ecosystems essential to addressing climate change. The High Ambition Coalition helped unite countries around this goal and is now well-positioned to help countries deliver on it, including by rallying political will, mobilizing funding, aligning technical assistance, and supporting countries on the ground.

“The new target to restore at least 30 percent of the world’s degraded ecosystems, focused on enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services, is another big bright spot. But achieving it will require getting funding for restoration to the local communities who manage much of the world’s land. 

“The pivotal shift toward respecting Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ rights and participation in decision-making is significant, and countries must ensure it is reflected in their domestic policies. WRI research shows that forests managed by Indigenous peoples and communities often store more carbon and have deforestation rates 2 to 3 times lower than other forests.

“And parties made some progress on addressing the major finance gap for nature, including wealthy countries agreeing to deliver $30 billion annually to developing countries for biodiversity action by 2030, and all countries agreeing to eliminate $500 billion in annual harmful environmental subsidies by 2030. Yet this is a drop in the bucket compared to the total finance needed to protect nature at scale.

“Countries’ failure to set robust systems in place for monitoring progress on the biodiversity targets is one notable weakness in the outcome. Monitoring progress with robust, credible systems is critical to ensuring that countries’ actions are delivering the intended impact and unlocking finance for nature-based solutions.

“As countries turn to implementing the Global Biodiversity Framework, they must address the drivers of biodiversity loss, with global food systems and climate change at top of the list. There is no silver bullet. Countries must simultaneously shift how they produce food, reduce wealthy countries’ exorbitant consumption levels, and protect and restore ecosystems.”

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