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What is COP15? Why it matters and what’s at stake at the Montreal summit

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Thousands of delegates representing 192 countries will spend the next two weeks in Montreal to hammer out a once-in-a-decade agreement aimed at building a more sustainable relationship between humans and nature.

The United Nations Biodiversity Summit, known as COP15, officially kicks off in Montreal on December 7th. If all goes according to plan, the conference will produce a new consensus outlining global biodiversity goals for the next decade.

The meeting is scheduled to end on December 19th, but negotiations may take place after hours.

Here’s what you should know:

What is the difference between COP15 and COP27?

COP is a UN terminology that simply stands for Conference of the Parties. It is a decision-making body made up of countries that have signed the treaty.

COP15 is different from COP27, the climate change summit recently held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The conference was under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Montreal Summit, COP15, is a conference under the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 1992, his 150 government leaders signed the treaty for the first time at the Rio Earth Summit.

Although biodiversity and climate change are related issues, the two conventions are separate.

The conference is part two of COP15, sometimes called the Nature COP or the United Nations Biodiversity Summit. The first part was held last year as a near-virtual conference based in Kunming, China.

Although it will be held in Montreal, the summit will be chaired by China.

why should you care?

On December 2, 2021, an endangered North Atlantic Right Whale is seen tangled in a newborn calf and fishing line near Cumberland Island, Georgia. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Associated Press)

A biodiversity summit is a big deal because it will likely lead to a new framework or agreement outlining goals for how the world should protect nature and use it more sustainably and equitably.

“The food we eat comes from biodiversity, the water we drink comes from biodiversity. The air we breathe is [comes from biodiversity]said Elizabeth Maluma Murema, Executive Director of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The ultimate goal is to halt biodiversity loss, respond to an unprecedented rate of decline in nature and species extinction, and build a sustainable relationship with nature.

Why do we need a new plan?

After countries including Canada failed to meet the 2020 targets of previous biodiversity plans, there is pressure to create a new agreement that incorporates better oversight and financing. Aichi target.

Basile Van Havre is co-chair of the Open-Ended Working Group for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity, helping to mediate negotiations.

“The lesson of the Aichi prefectural system is that if you set easy-to-understand numerical targets, you will attract attention,” he said. “We need to put in place a more robust system that allows us to measure progress as we go.”

The main goal of the former Aichi Plan was to conserve at least 17% of land and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

A new target under the draft agreement is the much-talked-about 30 x 30 goal of protecting 30% of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030.

Canada has already committed to that pledge. According to the latest statistics, Canada protects her 13.5% of its land and freshwater and her 13.9% of its ocean waters.

What are your main goals and challenges?

of draft contract Items that need to be negotiated and finalized are still scattered, but generally speaking, the key points are: halting natural loss; preventing human species extinction; reducing pollution; proper management, fair sharing of the benefits of genetic resources, and equitability.

There have been many requests from various environmental and indigenous groups for a framework that also recognizes the leadership of indigenous communities as stewards of nature.

Valerie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and member of the Innu community of Mashtuiaş, said: Quebec.

“We understand that our very survival depends on the health of these landscapes…We know that if we take care of the land, it will take care of us.” I know.”

Boreal forests like the one pictured here help store carbon and purify air and water. Sustainable forestry practices are one of the issues being negotiated at COP15. (Courtesy Claire Farrell)

As for the sticking points in the negotiations, Van Avre said there are three key points: how ambitious the plan should be, how it will be funded and how progress will be measured to ensure transparency. said that there is

“Negotiations will definitely be difficult. Big changes are happening,” he said. “But I haven’t seen anyone say they don’t want an agreement.”

Asked how likely he was to reach a deal by December 19, he said negotiations could go into extra time.

“Will it be ready by 6 p.m. on the 19th? Maybe not. Will I have a granola bar in my pocket that day?

who is attending?

A total of 15,723 people, including government delegates, NGO members and journalists, registered to attend the UN Biodiversity Summit in person, although the actual number of people attending may be lower.

The summit will be held in Montreal, but chaired by China. The only head of state expected to attend is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. China is represented by Huang Runqiu, the environment minister and his COP 15 presidency.

Traditionally, world leaders do not attend biodiversity summits, instead sending ministerial representatives to the negotiations.

Mrema said there is no need to attend as long as state leaders show they are committed to the process.

“Hopefully there will be agreement, consensus in the end…this is transformative and ambitious,” she said.

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