By: Rene Wadlow
René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC.
In the early hours of 19 December 2022, the delegates to the 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 Non-governmental Organizations, 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 is the headquarters of the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity. 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 worldwide there is a loss of biodiversity due to a number of factors such as increase in monoculture 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 funding increases.
It is hoped that non-governmental organizations can play a vital role at the international level on biodiversity protection. At the national level in many countries, non-governmental organizations 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 all us if we don't deliver on the promise made today."