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UN Biodiversity Summit Opens in Montreal

FILE: Biodiversity is the focus of the COP15 summit that opened December 7 in Montreal. Illustrated are elephants grazing in the in Loango Park on March 15, 2022.
FILE: Biodiversity is the focus of the COP15 summit that opened December 7 in Montreal. Illustrated are elephants grazing in the in Loango Park on March 15, 2022.

UN COP15 biodiversity talks opened in Montreal on Wednesday, in what is being billed as the "last best chance" to save the planet's species and ecosystems from irreversible human destruction.

A key United Nations summit to halt nature loss began December 7 in Montreal, Canada.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries will spend two weeks hashing out a new global deal to protect the world's struggling species and fast-vanishing wild places.

There are currently more than 1 million species threatened with extinction, as plant and animal species vanish at a rate 1,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate.

In Montreal, negotiators are considering 23 new targets, tackling everything from pesticides and noise pollution to corporate disclosures around the use of natural resources.

Of the 23 proposed targets, one has garnered more attention and ambition than others. Known informally as "30-by-30," this target would see countries commit to protecting 30% of their land and sea territories by 2030.

Already, more than 110 countries, including the United States and Canada, have pledged support for this goal, though the United States is the only country to have never signed onto the CBD. COP15 host China has so far committed to 25%.

Another of the 23 proposed targets would require all businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature by 2030. From there, they would have to reduce their negative impacts by at least half.

While this target could see some resistance from some industries including agriculture or mining, there is also widespread support among many businesses that rely to some extent on natural resources. More than 330 business and finance institutions with combined revenues of some $1.5 trillion have urged world leaders to adopt this goal.

The hoped-for conservation agreement would see countries commit to ensuring that, at the end of this decade, the world holds more "nature" — animals, plants, and healthy ecosystems — than there is now.

A robust agreement would include goals that are easy to measure and monitor, with countries reporting regularly on their progress in protecting nature. So aside from deciding which targets to set, countries will also be debating how much oversight they will commit to.

As part of the talks, countries will discuss ways of raising money and redirecting funds toward conservation goals. These could include rethinking subsidies for industries that pollute or in other ways harm nature.

A draft of the deal being negotiated includes a call for slashing these so-called harmful subsidies by at least $500 billion annually from the estimated $1.8 trillion given to activities that degrade nature. It also envisions increasing both public and private sector financing to at least $200 billion per year.

This report was prepared with data sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse