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Biodiversity: A Pledge, Now Action

In Current Events, Environmental protection, Human Development, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on December 22, 2022 at 8:22 PM

By René Wadlow

In the early hours of December 19, 2022, the delegates to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biodiversity (COP 15) reached an agreement on a Biodiversity Framework after 12 days of intense negotiations. The theme of COP 15 was “Ecological Civilization: Building a shared future for all life on earth”. There were some 15,000 persons present during the meetings: government delegates, some 70 Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), academic research institutes and business companies. The global biodiversity framework, to be called the “Kunming-Montreal Framework”, sets out to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and water by 2030. Montreal, Canada, is the headquarters of the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, and Kunming is the city in the People’s Republic of China where the conference was to be held but was changed because of COVID 19 restrictions.

There is general agreement among specialists that world-wide there is a loss of biodiversity due to a number of factors such as increase in mono-culture agriculture, livestock grazing, the loss of forest lands through lumbering and firewood gathering, overuse of pesticides and the growth of urbanization. Many ecosystems are under stress and facing degradation. The tree and plant cover of the world have been taking increasing losses in almost all parts of the world. There is also the impact of climate change and a lack of rainfall in some parts of the world.

As with many UN conferences, a key issue of discussion is finance. The protection of biodiversity and the restoration of degraded areas costs money without necessarily bringing in new financial wealth. There is a Global Environment Facility which is called upon to manage increase funds.

It is hoped that NGOs can play a vital role at the international level on biodiversity protection. At the national level in many countries, NGOs have played an important role in the creation of national parks and protected areas. Can they play a vital role at the international level? While there are some long-standing international ecological organizations, none yet have been able to mobilize a wide international public opinion. However, what was new at Montreal was the concerted effort of women’s organizations to have a gender focus put into the Framework for the first time. They were successful, and the Framework states that the Framework should “ensure gender equality in the implementation of the Framework through a gender-responsive approach where all women and girls have equal opportunity and capacity to contribute to the objectives of the Convention, including by recognizing their equal rights and access to land and natural resources and their full, equitable, meaningful and informed participation and leadership at all levels of action, engagement, policy, and decision-making related to biodiversity.”

There is also a growing movement among young people for the safeguard of biodiversity who may watch closely at the ways the Framework leads to action. As Marco Lambertini, Director General of World Wildlife Fund International, said, “The agreement represents a major milestone for the conservation of our natural world, and biodiversity has never been so high on the political and business agenda, but it can be undermined by slow implementation and failure to mobilize the promised resources. Governments have chosen the rights side of history in Montreal, but history will judge us all if we don’t deliver on the promise made today.”

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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