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COP15 biodiversity commitments will have significant business and finance impact

Forest view with sun flare

Businesses should expect new policy and regulation to emerge and impact on their operations and supply and value chains as a result of commitments global leaders have made towards preserving biodiversity, an expert has said

At the conclusion of UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 in Montreal, Canada, 188 governments committed to meeting a series of new targets by 2030, including the preservation of at least 30% of land and water considered important for biodiversity. According to the UN, just 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine areas are currently protected.

The commitments are set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework (GBF) (14-page / 374KB PDF) and have been dubbed by prominent figures at COP15 as a “Paris moment for biodiversity” – a reference to the landmark Paris Agreement reached by global leaders in 2015 in respect of tackling climate change.

The GBF includes four long-term goals for 2050 and 23 ‘action-oriented’ global targets for urgent action over the decade to 2030. Among these 23 global targets is the commitment to “ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water, and of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognising indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable.”

The commitment extends to integrating those areas of land and water “into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean” and places restrictions on how those areas might be used – the text commits signatories to ensuring that “any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognising and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories”.

Countries also committed to “ensure that by 2030 at least 30% of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration, in order to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity”.

Among the other targets outlined in the biodiversity framework is a commitment to halve global food waste by 2030.

Underpinning the biodiversity commitments are funding targets which seek to mobilise by 2030 at least $200 billion per year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources, public and private, and raise international financial flows from developed to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing states, and countries with economies in transition, to at least $20 billion per year by 2025 and at least $30bn per year by 2030.

Agreements were also reached at COP15 on how the commitments outlined will be implemented.

Sharon Smith of Pinsent Masons welcomed the commitments made. She said they are “very positive overall for global biodiversity and will have a significant business and finance impact”.

“Amongst other things, the GBF requires countries to ensure the full integration of biodiversity into governmental policies and regulations, and progressively align all relevant public and private activities, fiscal and financial flows with the goals and targets of the framework. It also requires countries to take legal, administrative or policy measures to ensure that large and transnational companies and financial institutions regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios,” Smith said.

The next COP for biodiversity, COP16, is to be held in Turkey in 2024.

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