What you need to know about the UN Biodiversity Conference 2022

COP 15 is currently taking place in Montreal, Canada.

Highly anticipated after two years of delays due to COVID-19, there is high hopes for renewed agreements and new targets to meet the various crises our planet currently faces.

But, what is COP 15? Learn more here, courtesy of our Science and Conservation Advisor, Georgina.

What is COP 15?

COP 15 is the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). This conference has been delayed twice because of Covid but is currently taking place in Montreal, Canada where representatives and negotiators from the 196 countries party to CBD are currently gathering. 

COP15 will review the previous commitments under the CBD; CBD’s Strategic Biodiversity Targets 2011-2020 (i.e. Aichi Targets) and agree on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. 

Why is COP 15 special?

There are high hopes that COP15 will be a “Paris Agreement moment” for biodiversity. This is partly because the urgency of the hour and the opportunity to produce a new agreement in the wake of the 2011-2020 targets. This is seen as a key moment to meet the current biodiversity (and climate) crisis in a way that protects and restores biodiversity and supports human societies. 

The loss of biodiversity has reached an unprecedented rate on the history of mankind & as a result of our human activities we have caused the planet to reach this dire state it is in now. We have altered 97% of the ecosystem worldwide


What is being negotiated?

A key focus of COP15 is “30 by 30”. This would be a commitment by all member states to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030.

This is seen as a key commitment to tackle our current biodiversity loss and the climate crisis. The IPCC have outlined that to meet our narrowing target of limiting global warming to 1.5C we need to stop destruction of biodiversity by 2030.

However, 30X30 is also a point of contention at COP15. This is because negotiators and activists must grapple with ensuring this protection does not further restrict the rights and access of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC’s).

Remaining indigenous peoples support the protection of 80% of the world’s biodiversity. Yet they have seen their rights and access to ecosystems diminish under tradition conservation models. One vital challenge of COP 15 is to ensure rights-based conservation is at the heart of their commitments.

We are currently in the UN decade of restoration. Consequently, those of us working in ecosystem regeneration are happy to see this on the agenda for COP15. The ambitious but important target of 1 billion hectares of land and ocean restored is seen as a way to benefit both biodiversity and climate change action.

Other vital issues on the table include: commitments to reducing plastic pollution in line with the UN treaty on plastic pollution currently under development, reductions to environmentally harmful agriculture subsidies and commitments to halt the dramatic rate of species extinctions.

What next?

Show your support for COP 15 and learn more about the conference by following the hashtag #COP15, and key organisations such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Share your thoughts and discuss key topics such as climate change with friends and family, or even take action! You could sign petitions, reduce your carbon footprint or donate to a charitable organisation. 

WiseOceans Marine Biologist Louise at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

WiseOceans Marine Biologist Louise at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora