First Draft of UN Biodiversity Agreement Aims High

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

This week, UN negotiators released a new set of draft goals to curb the drastic loss of nature and set member nations on a path to protect 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. These latest drafts were developed out of arduous scientific and financial negotiations in May and June. As Reuters reported,

  • The 21 proposals include targets for things such as reducing pesticide use, curbing plastic waste and a yearly fund to protect nature in developing countries.
  • They will be voted on by the 196 countries in the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity when it next meets in October for the CBD COP15 in Kunming, China.

Why This Matters: With 1 million species now threatened with extinction, scientists are wondering if the earth is going through its sixth mass extinction. This crisis is the result of centuries of agricultural production, mining, fossil fuel emissions, and pollution. 

Though the UN has set many targets to curb ecological destruction, the world has never met a single one.

  • For example, the world failed to meet any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan in 2010 to protect coral reefs, remove government subsidies that damage nature, and tackle pollution.
  • This was the second consecutive decade that governments failed to meet targets.

This set of agreements from CBD is crucial to averting further devastation of the world’s wildlife, especially because right now only 17% of land and 7% of seas fall under some sort of protection.

The Agreement: In addition to many countries’ 30 by 30 commitments, this new draft of the CBD’s agreement includes 21 major commitments to reducing pollution and restoring the earth’s ecosystems, like:

  • Reducing pesticide use by two/thirds
  • Halving the rate of invasive species introduction
  • Eliminating $500 billion harmful government subsidies a year
  • Cutting the extinction rate by a factor of ten
  • Channelling $200 billion a year towards protecting nature in developing countries

Some worry that these proposals will be too difficult to implement worldwide — countries may cherry-pick the easiest targets to achieve while disregarding the others. Some targets are also a bit vague, including a commitment to ensuring proper conservation management and respecting Indigenous rights. At the same time, Francis Ogwal, a co-chair of the Convention on Biodiversity, emphasized that having fewer targets, would “undermine how complex biodiversity isduring a virtual news conference.

The draft agreement should be finalized at the next global biodiversity conference, COP15, currently scheduled for October in Kunming, China.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the CBD, said: “Urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models so that the trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss will stabilize by 2030 and allow for the recovery of natural ecosystems in the following 20 years, with net improvements by 2050.”

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