Our key takeaway: The 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) have adopted the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), which replaces the 2010 Aichi biodiversity targets. This is the equivalent for biodiversity of the Paris Agreement for climate (although the GBF is not legally binding). This new biodiversity framework includes four goals, and 23 targets for achievement by 2030. Of particular note, governments agree to safeguard at least 30 per cent of the world’s land, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans by 2030 (we are currently at 17 per cent of land, and 10 per cent of marine areas under protection). Companies - stand ready for significantly more focus on biodiversity. The framework calls on companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios. Although the biodiversity framework is not legally binding on governments (unlike the Paris Agreement), or on companies (just like the Paris Agreement), it will influence stakeholder expectations and accelerate policy changes. The excellent news here is that the inter-connections between biodiversity and climate, and biodiversity and human rights, is made in the framework which calls for taking a human rights-based approach, and recognises the many ways in which people—especially indigenous peoples, local communities, women and girls and other vulnerable groups—may be adversely impacted by declining biodiversity. It also puts people at the crux of actions to preserve and restore nature, especially indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, and seeks to ensure that nature-based solutions to promote biodiversity do not negatively impact human rights.
In December 2022, governments convened at the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), with more than 190 states ultimately agreeing on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (18 December 2022). This new framework replaces the 2010 Aichi biodiversity targets:
- Four long-term biodiversity goals for 2050, with 23 action-oriented targets: The agreement outlines four overarching goals designed to help the world meet the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity, supported by 23 urgent targets to meet by 2023. Goal A envisions that “[t]he integrity, connectivity and resilience of all ecosystems are maintained, enhanced, or restored, substantially increasing the area of natural ecosystems by 2050.” Goal B envisions that “[b]iodiversity is sustainably used and managed and nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem functions and services, are valued, maintained and enhanced, with those currently in decline being restored, supporting the achievement of sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations by 2050.” Goal C focuses on shared benefits of biodiversity, specifically that “monetary and non-monetary benefits from the utilization of genetic resources … are shared fairly and equitably, including, as appropriate with indigenous peoples and local communities … while ensuring traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources is appropriately protected.” Goal D seeks “[a]dequate means of implementation, including financial resources, capacity-building, technical and scientific cooperation, and access to and transfer of technology to fully implement the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework.”
- Spotlight on targets to reduce threats to biodiversity: Eight of the 23 targets centre on actions to reduce harm to biodiversity, with respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Several of these actions call for responsible management and conservation of ecosystems, in a participatory manner and in line with human rights imperatives. Additional targets seek to halt human-induced extinction of threatened species and to responsibly manage the harvesting, use and trade of wild species, while protecting ecosystems from harms caused by invasive species. Furthermore, several targets urge action to prevent harm caused by human activities, including pollution and—critically—climate change and related ocean acidification.
- Spotlight on targets to meet people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing: Another group of targets highlights and seeks to preserve the interconnections between the well-being of people and planet. This includes the sustainable management of wild species, “thereby providing social, economic and environmental benefits for people, especially those in vulnerable situations and those most dependent on biodiversity.” Governments should also “[e]nsure that areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry are managed sustainably,” in an effort to ensure the resilience of food production chains and protect food security. Several targets focus on preserving and restoring ecosystems that people depend on, underpinning fundamental human rights including the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. For example, governments are called upon to regulate “air, water, and climate, soil health, pollination and reduction of disease risk, as well as protection from natural hazards and disasters, through nature-based solutions” and to put in place legal, policy, administrative and capacity-building measures to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources and traditional knowledge.