The following update was issued by the Wildlife Conservation Society upon the start of the second and final phase of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (Convention on Biological Diversity CoP15) in Montreal which opens Dec. 7.

The 196 Parties (195 national governments and the European Union) to the Convention on Biological Diversity are negotiating a Global Biodiversity Framework which is to provide a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade. WCS, with a delegation from around the world in attendance, brings years of research and practical experience to inform the decisions by the Parties, working with partners in government, Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, and other stakeholders.

Dr. Susan Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society said at the start of the meeting:

“After four years of negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, it is still not clear if the Parties at CoP15 will adopt the ambitious targets needed to reverse the world’s biodiversity emergency. The negotiations have been underway since CoP14 in 2018. The outcomes are vital for wildlife and people alike – for all life on Earth.

“While it is challenging to find optimism in the current negotiations, here are 5 current developments which could lead CoP15 to a successful Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: 1) There is significant support from governments on including ecosystem integrity (the function, composition, and structure of an ecosystem); 2) There is strong momentum to adopt a target to equitably protect and conserve 30 percent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030; 3) The GBF has more quantitative targets and a monitoring framework to help ensure targets are met; 4) There are stronger ties being made to the climate and pandemic crises; 5) Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, now more than ever, are at the table influencing the framework.

“For CBD CoP15 to be successful, the Parties needto ensure that the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework contributes meaningfully to tackling the world’s interrelated biodiversity collapse, climate change, and pandemic crises. Governments must commit to: conserving and protecting ecological integrity and highly intact ecosystems (from forests to coral reefs); equitably protecting and conserving at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030; and to eliminating exploitation, trade and use of wildlife that is illegal, unsustainable, or that poses a risk of pathogen spillovers to humans, wildlife, or other animals.

“The CBD CoP15 will end on Dec. 19. Even though it is just about two weeks away, it is hard to predict the outcome. We are looking for signals that the Parties are willing to adopt strong and actionable targets, and to move beyond business-as-usual and commit to changing our fraught and destructive relationship with nature. Governments need to negotiate for conservation and not against it; our future and that of our planet is in the balance.”