WWF: Dire lack of leadership and blockers in UN biodiversity talks make risk of failure at COP15 real
The talks in Nairobi this week aimed to help governments reach consensus on agreeing an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework ahead of COP15 under the Convention of Biological Diversity – now scheduled for 5-17 December in Montreal, Canada. Governments have, however, made limited progress in Nairobi, leaving the chance of securing a transformative global agreement capable of tackling the world’s accelerating nature crisis hanging by a thread.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “In the face of catastrophic nature loss and the tragic consequences this is having on humanity, countries are failing to show the necessary urgency – it’s been groundhog day in Nairobi, with all the crucial decisions again kicked down the road. There is a huge amount of work to do at COP15. We’ve seen more of the same, as we did in Geneva, and if we are to see success in Montreal, it is essential that leaders place much greater priority on the negotiations. If we’re to have any chance of surviving the drastic environmental changes human activities are driving globally, the natural world on which we depend must remain productive and resilient - for mitigating climate change impacts, increasing food security, and reducing our vulnerability to pandemics.
“A step change in political will is needed if we are to resolve the huge differences on key issues in the talks, including the overall level of ambition across all goals. At the same time, we need leaders to counter the influence of a small number of countries, Brazil first and foremost, that are actively working to undermine the talks. Heads of State who have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 must now drive forward ambition to secure a transformative, nature-positive agreement in Montreal - otherwise the prospect of a failure at COP15 is incredibly real.”
WWF welcomes the strong support in the Nairobi round of negotiations for an overarching goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, but stresses this is not enough. Ending the decade with more nature than we had at the start is essential to securing a sustainable future for both people and the planet. WWF emphasizes that a clear, nature-positive mission is vital to guide the direction of travel for the entire framework, and also ensure that the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change remains within reach.
WWF remains concerned with the lack of commitments in the draft agreement to tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss, most notably our broken food systems. Not only do our food systems drive 70% of biodiversity loss on land*, but a transition to sustainable agriculture is essential to delivering long-term food security and resilience.
Despite frustrating progress across much of the framework, WWF welcomes the strong support for a target on gender equality in the Global Biodiversity Framework as well as wide support for the recognition of the rights and roles of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. To avoid repeating the failure of the Aichi Targets, however, the final agreement must include a strong implementation mechanism that allows countries to review progress against targets and increase action over time.
Lin Li, Global Policy and Advocacy Director of WWF International, said: “Although we saw much welcome support for a target on gender equality here in Nairobi, it feels like little to no progress has been made in key areas such as action on the drivers of biodiversity loss, finance, and the inclusion of a strong implementation mechanism. A target of halving the footprint of production and consumption by 2030 is essential, but is being held hostage by a small number of blockers more interested in defending short-term vested interests.
“For an ambitious global biodiversity agreement that can deliver a nature-positive future for all life on Earth, it will now be vital that the Presidency and all countries work to find solutions ahead of COP15.”
With the talks in Nairobi witnessing a weakening of language on aligning financial flows to support rather than harm nature, and countries failing to find compromises to bridge the biodiversity financing gap, WWF stresses that finance remains the key sticking point in the negotiations. An increase in financial resources from all sources, especially international biodiversity finance, is essential to implement the framework. WWF emphasizes that engagement at the necessary higher political level will be essential to unblock this key issue.