COP15 has drawn to a close in Montreal, Canada – two weeks of debate and agreement about how to look after biodiversity on our planet. After a three year delay due to the pandemic, 96 countries came together to make progress on protecting the one million species threatened with extinction.
A decline in the number of plants, animals and other species has occured in recent years, caused by climate change and many human factors such as deforestation and the pollution of our oceans. As such, it is more important than ever to refocus on protecting our biodiversity – meaning all the living things on Earth, the habitats they live in, and how they all work with each other.
The key breakthrough at the event was an agreement made to protect 30% of the planet, land and sea, by 2030. This will help to maintain and restore ecosystems, like rain forests and wetlands, halt species extinction, and halve global food waste. The treaty will also ensure the benefits of natural resources, such as medicines we obtain from plants, are equally shared and that the rights of indigenous people are protected.
As 100 countries had already signed up before the conference, it was unlikely that the agreement wouldn’t be made, though there is still some doubt over how this will be funded and whether extra support should be given to developing countries. While some people have compared this step forward to the 2015 Paris deal to keep the global temperature rise to under two degrees, others are arguing that this isn’t enough and isn’t achievable by 2030. However it is an important step forward that this commitment is now official as many thought this was our last chance to make such an agreement.
The UK Government has pledged £34 million to these conservation efforts, including up to £29 million for developing countries. They have also announced £5.79 million in funding for wildlife conservation projects in UK Overseas Territories.
COP15 comes just a few weeks after COP27 took place in Egypt, focusing on reducing the scale and impact of climate change. You can read our summary of COP27 here.