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The countries conclude a comprehensive agreement to protect nature

The countries conclude a comprehensive agreement to protect nature

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Nearly 200 nations reached a landmark agreement to protect biodiversity early Monday morning, pledged action on more than 20 targets ranging from land protection to invasive species and the use of pesticides to stem the world’s rapid degradation of nature.

The global deal brokered at the recent United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada, comes at a critical time: a recent UN report found that plants, animals and ecosystems are being degraded at an “unprecedented” pace due to human activity that around 1 million species could become extinct within decades.

The main goal of the congress – to protect 30 percent of the planet’s land and waters by 2030 – received the most attention during the meeting’s two-week runtime. The goal came from famed biologist EO Wilson, who argued that in order to reverse the extinction crisis, half the planet must be set aside “for nature.” Some countries, such as Colombia and the United States (the only country other than the Vatican that is not an official member of the international Convention on Biological Diversity), had already begun adopting a scaled-down version of the target, dubbed “30×30,” within their own borders. But now countries have a new global pact known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework to protect land and sea, which some have likened to the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2, 7 degrees Fahrenheit).

“It is a milestone that almost every country on earth agrees to halt and reverse biodiversity loss,” said Craig Hanson, executive director for programs at the World Resources Institute, in a press statement. “But the agreement is only as strong as the political will of countries to implement it, and countries now face the urgent task of turning those commitments into action.”

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Ahead of the international gathering, indigenous groups had expressed concern about 30×30 and its potential to take lands and resources away from tribal control in the name of conservation. “The dominant concept of protected areas is ‘fortress protection,’ exclusionary spaces based on the vision of wilderness without people,” said Jennifer Corpuz, a member of the Kankanaey Igorot people of the northern Philippines and negotiator for the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, a group of activists, academics and representatives of indigenous governments and NGOs organized around international environmental meetings. Studies have consistently shown that tribal peoples are the best stewards of biodiversity, but they are often hampered by the expansion of protected areas and the associated displacements and livelihood restrictions.

“We saw the negotiation of a new framework as an opportunity to address these issues,” Corpuz said. The final text of the agreement calls for “protected area systems and other effective area-based protection measures that recognize indigenous peoples [sic] and traditional territories,” and Aboriginal rights are also mentioned in strong language in numerous places throughout the pact, according to Corpuz. While indigenous groups had called for their lands to be recognized as a distinct path to biodiversity conservation, Corpuz said, “We believe the language is ambiguous enough to accept.”

The biggest sticking point in the biodiversity negotiations or the Conference of the Parties or COP15 was who would fund conservation efforts in the most biodiverse parts of the world, mainly the Global South. Developing countries are demanding a $100 billion fund from wealthy nations, similar to the fund set up by the UN Climate Change Convention for mitigation and adaptation. Last week, delegates staged a strike on the issue. The final deal calls for wealthy countries to allocate $30 billion a year to small island nations and developing countries through 2030, although research has shown about $700 billion a year is needed to reduce species decline. objection On Monday morning, the DRC and other African nations were suspended over insufficient funding when Huang Runqiu, the President of COP15 and China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment, banged the gavel to end the conference.

Overall, the final agreement contains 23 targets, including commitments to halve the risks from pesticides and the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture, halve introduction rates of invasive species, and reform government subsidies linked to biodiversity destruction.

The wording, which requires companies to disclose their impact on nature and their financial risks related to species extinction, was watered down in the final version of the text. Developing countries and indigenous peoples had also demanded that countries of origin receive a fair share of the benefits of research when countries extract genetic resources from their biodiverse ecosystems, such as rainforests and peatlands, to make medicines and other products. Although no mechanism has been put in place, the language in the final text sets out a two-year process to create a way to fund the communities and countries from which biodata is taken; Indigenous communities call to be the main beneficiaries.

Countries now have eight years to meet their new targets, which some observers have criticized for prioritizing economic interests and lacking an enforcement mechanism. As it stands, the 30 percent target is global, not specific to individual countries, and the commitments will be voluntary, similar to the Paris Agreement. At the 2002 biodiversity conference in the Netherlands, the parties agreed to reduce species loss by 2010 and failed. The last major wave of biodiversity target-setting took place in Aichi, Japan in 2010, and not a single one of the meeting’s targets had been met by the 2020 deadline. Given the track record, it remains to be seen whether countries will honor their ambitious new commitments.

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