WWF: World must not miss its chance to secure a ‘Paris’-style agreement for nature at COP15

By World Wide Fund for Nature

WWF: World must not miss its chance to secure a ‘Paris’-style agreement for nature at COP15

In the face of accelerating biodiversity loss and growing food insecurity, WWF is urging world leaders to secure an ambitious global agreement to save our life support systems at the COP15 UN biodiversity conference.

Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history, with one million species now threatened with extinction. People are becoming increasingly aware of this crisis. New WWF research published shows the amount of people concerned about rapid nature loss in the world’s top global biodiversity hotspots, has risen to nearly 60% – reflecting a 10% increase, since 2018. In addition, nature and climate change were seen as the most important policy areas for people (81%), across the thousands surveyed.

WWF will be pressing governments in Montreal to adopt a ‘Paris’-style agreement capable of driving immediate action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for a nature-positive world. This means having more nature at the end of the decade than is now. To date, more than 90 world leaders have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

“We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. We’ve lost half of the world’s warm water corals, and forests the size of roughly one football field vanish every two seconds. Wildlife populations have suffered a two-thirds decline globally in less than 50 years. The future of the natural world is on a knife’s edge. But nature is resilient – and with a strong global agreement driving urgent action it can bounce-back…” says Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.

“Nature holds the answers to many of the world’s most pressing challenges. Failure at COP15 is not an option. It would place us at increased risk from pandemics, exacerbate climate change make it impossible to limit global warming at 1.5C, and stunt economic growth – leaving the poorest people more vulnerable to food and water insecurity. To tackle the nature crisis, governments must agree on a nature-positive goal that unites the world in protecting more of the nature left on the planet while restoring as much as possible and transforming our productive sectors to work with nature, not against it. After many pledges and commitments, it’s crunch time in Montreal for leaders to deliver for people and the planet.”

WWF stresses the importance of countries agreeing to a goal of conserving at least 30% of the planet’s land, inland waters, and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach that recognizes the leadership and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

At the same time, action is needed to ensure the remaining 70% of the planet is sustainably managed and restored – and this means addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss, with the same level of urgency. Science is clear that global production and consumption rates are completely unsustainable and are causing serious damage to the natural systems people to rely on for their livelihoods and well-being. WWF believes a commitment to half the global footprint of production and consumption by 2030 while recognizing huge inequalities between and within countries, is desperately needed in the framework to ensure that key sectors, such as agriculture and food, fisheries, forestry, extractives, and infrastructure, are transformed to help deliver a nature-positive world.

Despite a large and growing number of world leaders committing to secure an ambitious global biodiversity agreement, key issues remain unresolved, including how to mobilize the necessary finance. Currently, the biodiversity finance gap is estimated to be US$700 billion annually. WWF is calling for countries to substantially increase finance, including international public finance with developing countries as the beneficiaries, and align public and private financial flows with nature-positive practices, including through the elimination or repurposing of harmful subsidies and other incentives.

The talks are the finale of what has been an incredibly challenging four years of negotiations, with the pandemic delaying any agreement on the global biodiversity framework under the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) until now.

“Leaders must send the message loud and clear that the existential nature crisis can, and must, be addressed at the same time as current pressing socio-economic needs. They must mandate their ministers and negotiators to translate existing commitments into ambition in the negotiation room and find common ground on tricky issues such as finance. The June round of negotiations left the chances of an ambitious nature agreement on life-support but it can still be reached if all step up to the plate in Montreal,” says Lin Li, Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International.

“In 2020, we saw the devastating results of the ten-year ‘Aichi Targets’ – the second consecutive decade in which the world failed to meet any global biodiversity targets. We cannot afford another lost decade for nature, which would be tantamount to dereliction of duty by governments and only cause more human suffering. This means negotiators coming to the table ready to sign up to a clear blueprint to deliver the necessary finance – with developed countries supporting the conservation efforts of developing countries – and a strong implementation mechanism to hold countries to account.”

WWF notes that a strong implementation mechanism that requires countries to review progress against targets and increase action as required is an essential mechanism to ensure real action is delivered on the ground.

This proposal is underlined by WWF’s research, which found 56% of people surveyed believe government action to protect biodiversity is insufficient. The research, which surveyed more than 9200 people across regions with staggering rates of biodiversity loss, found that people also perceived policy-related actions to be more impactful than individual consumer action.