EU at COP15: Final stretch to global deal to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, for people and planet

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today starts the United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP15 meeting in Montréal. From 7 to 19 December, countries will aim to reach a global agreement for the protection of nature and the planet with long-term goals by 2050 and milestones for 2030. The Commission, representing the EU, will work with all Parties to conclude an ambitious global agreement to protect, restore, sustainably use and invest in biodiversity and ecosystems. At the High-Level Segment from 14 to 17 December, Commissioner Sinkevičius will represent the Commission and lead the EU negotiating team.

After more than two years of negotiating, the Commission wants to turn COP15 into a ‘Paris moment’ for biodiversity, referring to the landmark climate summit where the world agreed to limit climate change to 1.5°C. High ambition is also needed to address the dual crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss and if we want to maintain our planet’s capacity to sustain 8 and soon 10 billion people, fight climate change and protect our livelihoods. As a first step, it will be essential to leave the world’s nature in a better shape in 2030 than it was in 2020.

EU at COP15: priorities for a global biodiversity framework

The Commission together with EU Member States will work towards the adoption of an ambitious, comprehensive and transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework. An agreement at COP15 should include:

  • A target to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030, especially those areas that are most valuable for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Protected areas would need to be well-connected and effectively managed.
  • A target to restore 3 billion hectares of degraded land and freshwater ecosystems and 3 billion hectares of ocean ecosystems. By restoring those areas, they can be more productive than today and more resilient to droughts, floods and pests. 
  • Targets to address the direct drivers of biodiversity loss, including pollution.
  • Commitments  to promote sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems, in particular through agro-ecology approaches, reducing pesticide use, stopping deforestation and by mainstreaming nature-based solutions into our economy. Sustainable use of biodiversity can meet people’s needs, for example for food, fibre, fuel, medicine or tourism, while supporting conservation.
  • Solid monitoring framework with a set of headline indicators and a robust mechanism for the review of national targets in support of the implementation of the framework making sure that the agreement is fully implemented.

Mobilising biodiversity finance

The required ambition will need the mobilisation of substantial financial resources for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. As President von der Leyen announced in her State of the Union address, the European Union is doubling its global biodiversity financing to EUR 7 billion over the period 2021-2027, especially for the most vulnerable countries, and is encouraging all international donors to live up to the same level of ambition. In Montréal, the Commission will also support a strong package to mobilise resources from all sources, domestic and international, public and private

As a priority, existing resources need to be used more effectively, including by aligning all financial flows with nature-positive objectives and by addressing harmful subsidies. Businesses play a major role in that. This starts with monitoring, assessing and disclosing their impacts and dependencies on nature. The EU supports the global business coalition calling for mandatory reporting by companies and financial institutions

A key negotiating issue is the access to and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources (Digital Sequence Information, or DSI). The Commission urges that any solution should be practical and easily implementable. It should ensure legal certainty and clarity, and generate more benefits than costs. In particular, open access to this information should be guaranteed, and scientific research cannot be hampered.

As we cannot manage what we cannot measure, the Commission will also advocate for the strengthening of capacity building and development, and is committed to develop a Global Knowledge Support Service for Biodiversity to support our partner countries in the implementation of the future global agreement.

Background

With half of the world’s economic output dependent on nature, protecting biodiversity means safeguarding the fundamental building blocks on which we all depend. Global food security, which relies on pollination by insects and on healthy soils, is acutely at risk if biodiversity decline and ecosystem degradation continues at its current speed. Loss of biodiversity jeopardizes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and other international goals and targets.

At the same time, nature is our best ally in the fight against climate change and resulting natural disasters. Nature-based solutions are also among the cheapest and most effective climate change measures, but to play that role our environment needs to be in a healthy state. Currently,

•   one million species are at risk of extinction, caused by human activity. Among those species are 40% of all insects

•   tropical forests are being cut at a rate of 13 million hectares, or the equivalent of Greece or Nicaragua, per year

•   a third of our planet’s land is severely degraded and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are being lost every year.

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