EGA Five Facts to Know: The COP15 Biodiversity Pact 

To address the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention (COP15) adopted on December 19 the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The GBF comprises four goals and 23 targets for 2030. Here are five facts to know about the COP15 Biodiversity Pact:

1. The deal creates a new framework to overcome past inaction. 

  • UNCBD COP15 was chaired by China and hosted by Canada – and proved that China-Canada relations could be constructive after hitting a low at the Bali G20 summit.
  • Global biodiversity financing to date has been inadequate to halt biodiversity loss. A 2020 Paulson Institute report highlights that the biodiversity financing gap—the difference between what the world currently spends and what is needed to reverse biodiversity decline by 2030—is roughly USD700bn.
  • The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was signed by 200 countries and will replace the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which were set in 2011 and were never met. The GBF highlights that “Without [pursuing the outlined] action, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times bigger than it was averaged over the past 10 million years.”

2. It adopts global targets for 2030.

The key global targets adopted include:

  • Effectively conserve and manage at least 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans. This represents a 17% increase from current levels.
  • Complete or initiate restoration on at least 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland waters, and coastal and marine ecosystems.
  • Cut global food waste in half and significantly reduce overconsumption and waste generation.
  • Reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals
  • Progressively phase out or reform by 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least USD500bn per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity’s conservation and sustainable use
  • Require large and transnational 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

3. It sets four overarching global goals. 

  • Goal 1:
    • Halt human induced extinction of known threatened species
    • Maintain the genetic diversity within populations of wild and domesticated species
  • Goal 2:
    • Biodiversity is sustainably used and managed and nature’s contributions are valued, maintained and enhanced – with those currently in decline being restored.
  • Goal 3:
    • Fairly share the monetary and non-monetary benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, and digital sequence information on genetic resources
    • Protect traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in accordance with internationally agreed access and benefit-sharing instruments (ABS)1.
  • Goal 4:
    • Secure financial resources to close the biodiversity finance gap of USD700bn per year and align financial flows with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

4. Funding is once again at the core of the tensions between developed and developing countries. 

  • Developing countries are more impacted by biodiversity loss than rich countries. Yet only an estimated 20-25 percent of financing is being channeled to the Global South. The GBF addresses this challenge in Target 19, which specifically highlights the need to:
    • “implement national biodiversity strategies and action plans, by 2030” – mobilizing at least USD200bn per year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources – public and private. This includes raising international [public] financial flows from developed to developing countries from USD20bn per year in 2025 to USD30bn per year by 2030.
    • “Optimiz[e] co-benefits and synergies of finance targeting the biodiversity and climate crises”

5. The deal has its shortcomings.

  • The GBF was hailed as complementing the Paris Agreement on Climate, however, unlike the latter the former is not legally binding.
  • The agreed funding is far below the resources sought at the outset and will be accounted for under a new global biodiversity fund under the already existing Global Environmental Facility. No new fund (comparable the Green Climate Fund as the instrument for climate finance under the UNFCCC) was created.
  • Where is the US?
    • The US is still not a party to the UNCBD and hence (like the Holy See) only attended COP15 as an observer
Implications for Business
Businesses should monitor the following:
  • Subsidies: According to Business for Nature, USD1.8tn – around 2% of global GDP - in annual subsidies go to industries connected to biodiversity loss. Watch for increased focus on:
    • the agribusiness sector – which is thought to benefit from USD520bn per year in “illogical” and “perverse” subsidies.
    • on food waste regulation
  • Compliance and reporting: Target 15 of the GBF specifically addresses the responsibilities of large and transnational companies and financial institutions to:
    • Regularly monitor, assess and transparently disclose their biodiversity -related risks and impacts on biodiversity along their value chains and portfolios.
    • Provide information to consumers to promote sustainable consumption patterns
    • Report on compliance with access and benefit sharing (ABS) regulations.
  • Financial disclosures: Regulatory pressures to measure biodiversity footprint are likely to increase