15th Meeting of United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Kicks Off in Canada

multiple screens at cop15 opening ceremony
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Montreal, Canada

15th Meeting of United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Kicks Off in Canada

Canada welcomed delegates from around the world to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Delegates from across the world gathered for the December 7-19 meeting to try to hammer out a new deal for nature: a 10-year framework aimed at saving the planet’s forests, oceans and species before it’s too late.

“With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction,” UN chief Antonio Guterres warned at a ceremony ahead of talks.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau highlighted Canada’s commitment to ensuring COP15 is a success by working with international partners to reach an agreement on an ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

The GBF would provide a collective roadmap that will guide worldwide efforts on biodiversity conservation until 2030.

In support of this goal, Prime Minister Trudeau today announced that Canada will provide a new contribution of $350 million to support developing countries – home to the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity – to advance conservation efforts. This funding will support the implementation of the future GBF.

This is in addition to the more than $1 billion Canada has already pledged to support climate action projects that address the effects of climate change on biodiversity loss in developing countries.

Today’s new investment further positions Canada as a global leader in protecting nature. It is in addition to billions of dollars in historic investments we have made since 2016 to conserve nature and biodiversity here at home and around the world.

By stepping up and bringing the world together in Montréal, we can stop biodiversity loss and build a healthy planet for future generations.

“When people think of Canada, they think of our landscapes and the richness of our nature – parts of who we are. Today, we welcome the world to Montréal to continue working together to make sure the planet we leave to our kids and grandkids has clean air, clean water, and an abundance of nature to enjoy.”

The official opening of the meeting, known as COP15, follows several days of pre-negotiations that saw very little progress on key issues, sparking fears parties may walk away without a good deal.

guterres on multiple screens at cop15
Antonio Guterres at the opening ceremony / Credit: Stella Paul. 

Observers called for negotiators to urgently unblock sticking points on difficult items like finance and implementation, with only five out of more than 20 targets agreed so far.

Elizabeth Mrema, the head of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which oversees the talks, on Tuesday urged “give and take” among negotiators, calling for “flexibility, compromise and consensus.”

The talks come amid a dire warning from scientists that the world is facing its biggest mass extinction event since the dinosaur age, with more than one million species at risk.

Human activity has decimated forests, wetlands, waterways and the millions of plants, animals and insects that live in them, with half of the global GDP in some way dependent on nature.

With so much on the line, observers are calling for a “Paris moment” for nature — an ambitious deal in line with the landmark climate accord.


This story was produced as part of a Virtual Fellowship to the CBD COP15 organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network. It was first published by eNews on 7 December 2022 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: The opening ceremony of COP15 / Credit: Stella Paul.

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