Draft UN biodiversity deal calls for protecting 30% of the planet by 2030

Draft UN biodiversity deal calls for protecting 30% of the planet by 2030

MONTREAL – Countries gathered at a United Nations (UN) meeting on biodiversity in Montreal on Sunday (December 18th) were closing in on an agreement to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 and pay out US$30 billion (S$40.7 billion) in annual aid to developing countries to save their ecosystems.

Tough talks to seal a ‘peace for nature pact’ came to a head when summit chair China presented a long-awaited compromise text that was greeted with caution by many, although some countries said that more work was needed.

The plan sets out actions for the next decade to roll back the habitat destruction, pollution and climate crisis that scientists say threatens one million plant and animal species with extinction.

It calls on rich countries to increase financial aid to the developing world to US$20 billion a year by 2025, rising to US$30 billion a year by 2030, while ensuring that 30% land and sea areas are effectively conserved and managed by the end of this period. decade.

The text includes language protecting the rights of indigenous peoples as custodians of their land, a key demand from campaigners, but has been watered down in other areas – for example, by only encouraging companies to report their impacts on biodiversity rather than forcing them to do so.

The project must still be approved by the 196 signatories of the Convention on Biological Diversity before being finalized.

Environmentalists say the “30 by 30” target is the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit long-term global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The meeting, called COP15, is being held in Canada due to China’s strict rules on Covid-19.

RISK OF PUSHBACK

“Six months ago, we didn’t even know if we would have a COP this year, let alone a Parisian moment for biodiversity, and that’s sincerely where I think we’re headed,” said the Canadian minister for the environment Steven Guilbeault in enthusiastic remarks. .

But EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius took a more cautious note, warning that the funding figures being discussed could be problematic.

“If we have other countries that are committed to these goals, like China, I think that can be realistic,” he said, also calling on Arab states to play their part.

Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said she was “optimistic that the main objectives have been achieved”, calling the project “an important step forward”.

However, Mr Braulio Dias, speaking on behalf of the new Brazilian government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, called for “better mobilization of resources” – a technical speech for more aid to developing countries, a concern echoed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Conservation groups said the text was a mixed bag.

“The draft text represents the largest commitment in history to ocean and land conservation,” said Mr Brian O’Donnell of the Campaign for Nature.

But Ms Georgina Chandler, from Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said she was concerned about the lack of numerical “milestones” for restoring ecosystems by 2050.

“We basically don’t measure progress until age 28, which is insane,” she said.

FUNDING DISPUTE

Developing countries, led by Brazil, had called for the creation of a new fund to signal the global North’s commitment to the cause. But the draft text instead suggests a compromise: a “trust fund” within the existing mechanism, called the Global Environment Facility.

Colombian Muhamad said her country would accept this as a stopgap measure.

The more than 20 goals also include reducing environmentally destructive agricultural subsidies, reducing pesticide use and tackling invasive species.

But the question of how much money rich countries will send to the developing world, home to most of the planet’s biodiversity, has been the biggest sticking point.

Low-income countries point out that developed countries have grown rich exploiting their natural resources and therefore demand to be paid well to protect theirs.

Current financial flows for nature to the developing world are estimated at around $10 billion per year.

Beyond the moral implications, there is the question of self-interest: $44 trillion in economic value creation—more than half of global GDP—depends on nature and its services. AFP

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