UN biodiversity summit COP15: Midway point

12 December 2022


Born Free reports on the countdown to the adoption of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

A photo of a sea turtle in a coral reef.

The world’s governments move ever closer towards agreeing a new global biodiversity framework at COP15 in Montreal, Canada. This will shape global and national policy on nature policy for the coming decades and Born Free remains concerned that the outcomes might not reflect the urgency, level of ambition and transformative changes needed to reshape our relationship with the natural world.

With the finish line now in sight, we are doing all we can to ensure the governments negotiating here in Montreal show courage and truly step up to the task of using this once in a decade opportunity to address the biodiversity crisis before us, which is closely intertwined with the health and climate crises.

In the first week of text-based negotiations, consensus on most issues proved hard to reach, resulting in heavily contested provisions, and too many major blocks. While some progress was made, including completion of the section on the purpose of the framework, it is worrying to see a long list of issues yet to be resolved, with very little time to do so.

As it stands, the draft agreement fails to incorporate the necessary actions required to prevent the risk of pathogen spillover from wildlife exploitation and other key risk factors for zoonotic disease emergence in the cluster of targets relating to the reduction of threats to biodiversity.

“The only draft target designed to address a leading driver of biodiversity loss, namely the direct exploitation of wildlife through use and trade, risks being seriously weakened by this omission,” reports Born Free’s International Policy Specialist Adeline Lerambert. “Have government delegates already forgotten about the impacts of the global pandemic on society’s economy, health and well-being? A proposal for a standalone target on implementing the holistic One Health approach tabled by the UK, which holds strong potential to reduce those risks to the health and well-being of humans, animals and ecosystems, must be supported. However, its fate remains highly uncertain.”

Ms Lerambert continued: “It is equally disappointing that governments do not appear to agree on the need to immediately halt human-induced species extinctions and significantly reduce extinction risk, on the value of ecological restoration, or on eliminating the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity.”

“When delegates considered targets on meeting people’s needs, they engaged in lengthy discussions which revealed persistent points of divergence on the concepts of sustainability and benefit-sharing. We are encouraging governments to ensure that the new agreement promotes ecological sustainability by prioritising the conservation, health and welfare of wild species and by ensuring the equitable sharing of benefits derived from any use of wildlife, with a focus on respecting traditional knowledge and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.”

“At this point in time, it is still possible to make COP15 the positive landmark for nature and wildlife that the watching world expects. As the negotiations enter their final stages. Born Free and our partners including the World Federation for Animals remain fully engaged and determined to fight for the protection of all life on Earth. We hope that ministerial presence can help untie the knots and generate the political ambition required for a successful outcome.”

Born Free will report back soon on COP15.


Image: © richcarey (Getty Images Pro)