30-by-30 – Key takeaways from the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference COP15

By Denzil Prato

05 January 2023

The UN Biodiversity COP15 is vastly similar to UNFCCC COP27. Many delegates from countries all over the world attended this conference held from 7th – 19th December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The attendees came together worldwide to agree on new goals to guide global decisions and actions through 2030 to halt and reverse nature loss. The conference was yet again perplexing, with its complexity to keep up with, but the end result was that the attending has adopted four goals and twenty-three targets for 2030 in a landmark UN Biodiversity agreement. These might seem daunting to keep track of but the purpose of this article is to help you understand the major highlights of the Biodiversity COP15. The aim of this global deal is to protect the ecosystem that the world economy depends upon and to prevent further loss of the already ravaged plant and animal populations on the planet.

Conservation, Protection and Restoration

This is one of the major takeaways of the conference, a historical deal to be kept by the delegates. IT essentially means that all the agreed parties have committed themselves to protect 30% of the land and 30% of the coastal and marine areas by 2030. This agreement is also known informally as 30-by-30. Indigenous and traditional territories will also count toward this goal, as many countries and campaigners pushed for during the talks.

The deal also aspires to restore 30% of degraded lands and waters throughout the decade, up from an earlier aim of 20%.

The world will strive to prevent destroying intact landscapes and areas with many species, bringing those losses “close to zero by 2030”.

The delegates fulfilling the highest-profile goal of this conference settled this major deal.

Money for Nature

All the signatories aim to ensure that $200 billion per year is to be channelled to conservation initiatives, from all sources including public and private sources. Wealthier countries should contribute at least $20 billion of this every year by 2025, and at least $30 billion a year by 2030.

This appeared to be the Democratic Republic of Congo’s main source of objection to the package stating that the parties, which are developed nations, should provide resources to parties, which are developing.

Big Companies Report Impacts on Biodiversity

Companies should analyse and report how their operations affect and are affected by biodiversity issues. The parties agreed to large companies and financial institutions being subject to “requirements” to make disclosures regarding their operations, supply chains and portfolios.

This reporting in the long term is intended to progressively promote biodiversity, reduce the risks posed to businesses by the natural world, reduce the impact of businesses on wildlife and the ecosystem and encourage sustainable production.

Harmful Subsidies

Countries have committed to identifying subsidies that deplete biodiversity by 2025, and then eliminate, phase out or reform them. They agreed to slash those incentives by at least $500 billion a year by 2030, and increase incentives that are positive for conservation.

Pesticides and Pollution

One of the deal’s targets that are more controversial sought to reduce the use of pesticides by up to two-thirds. However, the final language to emerge focuses on the risks associated with pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals instead, pledging to reduce those threats by “at least half”, and instead focusing on other forms of pest management.

Overall, the Kunming-Montreal agreement will focus on reducing the negative impacts of pollution to levels that are not considered harmful to nature, but the text provides no quantifiable target here. This will mostly have to be decided by the governments of the signatories exactly how much can be considered harmful.

Monitoring and reporting progress

Processes to monitor progress in the future, in a bid to prevent this agreement from meeting the same fate as similar targets that were agreed upon in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, and never met will support all the agreed aims.

National action plans will be set and reviewed, following a similar format used for greenhouse gas emissions under U.N.-led efforts to curb climate change.

Some observers objected to the lack of a deadline for countries to submit these plans. But we are hopeful that the UN Biodiversity COP15 will create a long-lasting effect due to the 30-by30 landmark goal.