The 196 states that are signatories to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity have agreed to halt biodiversity loss by 2030. State environment ministers and their negotiators have pledged to take “urgent action” to protect 30% of the planet, restore 30% of ecosystems and double resources for nature protection within 8 years.
“The agreement has been adopted,” Huang Runqiu, Chinese president of COP15, said in Montreal overnight as he sounded a hammer.
After four years of difficult negotiations, ten days and a night of diplomatic marathon, an agreement was finally reached this Monday, December 19 in Canada. This “pact of peace with nature” called “Kunming-Montreal agreement” aims to protect lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and the climate crisis.
The text adopted meets expectations on the whole, even if ambiguous terms and vague formulations can leave the door open to interpretations.
Negotiations were still skating on Saturday, December 17, during the second plenary. But the Chinese presidency, hitherto criticized for its lack of initiative and transparency, took the lead by presenting a compromise text on Sunday, December 18. And he managed the feat of satisfying almost all negotiators.
But after the applause that followed the deal, there was a tense moment. The Democratic Republic of Congo has indeed expressed its opposition to this agreement because of the absence of a dedicated fund for the countries of the South. It was one of the big requests. They denounced a financial “lack of ambition” while the DRC in particular, and the countries of the Congo Basin, will have to spend a lot of money to protect biodiversity in their natural spaces.
After several minutes of pause, the Chinese minister returned to the podium and had all the texts submitted to the vote adopted in a handful of seconds. Cameroon denounced a “forced passage”, like other delegates. Still, legally, in the absence of formal objections, the agreement was adopted, which was confirmed a few minutes later by the secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The texts contain three major decisions, which are accompanied by dynamic clauses providing for regular progress reports, a first in this field. They are considered “historic” by the French Minister of the Environment, Christophe Béchu, as well as by his Canadian counterpart, Steven Guilbeault.
“This is a historic agreement because we are setting an ambitious framework, in which nothing is at a discount, supported Christophe Béchu. Everyone will now have to prove that they are up to this text and that it is not a paper agreement, the work begins. »
COP15 also approved the creation of a new branch of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), dedicated to the application of the Kunming-Montreal agreement: an alternative to the separate fund that many countries of the South still hope to obtain in the future.
The outcome of this COP15 is a surprise. Most delegations were very pessimistic until Thursday, December 15, when environment ministers from many countries arrived and high-level negotiations began. Deemed to be failing in the first days of exchanges to the point that the host country, Canada, must take over in many exchanges, the Chinese presidency imposed its rhythm on Friday, including on Western delegations yet experienced in international negotiations.
The importance of indigenous peoples in the preservation of biodiversity in the agreement
Expelled from their territories when protected areas were created in many places around the world, indigenous peoples gave a voice during this COP15 in Montreal and they were heard. The new international roadmap to protect biodiversity gives guarantees to these communities that protect 80% of the planet’s biodiversity.