30×30: the global biodiversity agreement reached at COP15 aims to protect 30% of nature by 2030

Global Bio Stripes with birds. Data: Living Planet Index (http://stats.livingplanetindex.org/).
Global Bio Stripes with birds. Data: Living Planet Index (http://stats.livingplanetindex.org/).

After two weeks of negotiations, the commitments made at COP15 have today been published in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a global agreement to safeguard Earth’s biodiversity. Named after the Canadian city hosting the conference and the Chinese city chairing it, the framework sets out a package of 23 targets intended to reduce biodiversity loss and restore natural ecosystems by 2030. Three of the most striking are to protect at least 30% of nature, to halve food waste, and to reduce subsidies harmful to biodiversity by a minimum of 500 billion US dollars per year.

What conclusions can be drawn in relation to the framework? Alícia Pérez-Porro, CREAF’s scientific coordinator, is feeling optimistic.

“This is a historic agreement because it establishes a commitment to halting and reversing biodiversity loss in under ten years and provides unprecedented funding for protecting nature.”

ALÍCIA PÉREZ-PORRO, CREAF’s scientific coordinator.

“It also calls for the protection of 30% of the planet and the restoration of 30% of degraded ecosystems,” she explains. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, the scientific community included,” she adds.

The global agreement calls for the protection of 30% of the planet and the restoration of 30% of degraded ecosystems.

One way in which this global agreement differs from others is that it reflects the connection between human activity and the wellbeing of nature, something CREAF-based CSIC researcher Lluís Brotons also points out: “This is not a Paris Agreement for biodiversity, but it is clearly a step in the right direction. If we fail to conserve biodiversity and the natural processes that sustain it, the future of humankind itself is at risk. The new global biodiversity framework explicitly recognizes that and sets targets to turn the situation around.” That approach is very much in keeping with Catalonia’s environmental policies: re-establishing natural processes and restoring ecosystems damaged by climate change and human activity. The policies in question have been chosen on the basis that Catalonia has already achieved the goal established in the agreement of protecting 30% of its territory, making restoration its priority.

Four goals for restoring nature and managing it sustainably and fairly

The 23-target package approved in the framework has four overarching global goals. They are long-term objectives, the fulfilment of which is envisioned for 2050. 

Goal A. Greater protection and restoration of biodiversity. For 2050, ecosystem integrity, connectivity and resilience is to be maintained, in the case of healthy ecosystems, or enhanced or restored, in the case of less healthy ecosystems. At the same time, the area of natural ecosystems must be substantially increased and the human-induced extinction of threatened species halted. The rate of extinction and risk affecting all species must be reduced tenfold

Goal B. Sustainable management of nature. By 2050, biodiversity must be sustainably used and managed, including the functions and services of the ecosystems that support it. Such functions and services are to be valued, maintained and enhanced; those currently in decline are to be restored. 

Goal C. Fair, equitable sharing of the monetary and non-monetary benefits of nature, including, where applicable, with indigenous peoples and local communities. Examples of those benefits include the use of genetic resources and sequence information on such resources, be they digital or associated with traditional knowledge. Additionally, the benefits in question must be substantially increased by 2050, in accordance with internationally agreed access and benefit-sharing instruments.

Goal D. A framework feasible for all.Adequate means of fully implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, including financial resources, capacity-building, scientific cooperation, and access to technology, must be ensured and equitably available to all parties, particularly countries with economies in transition. By 2050, the biodiversity finance gap of 700 billion US dollars per year must be closed and financial flows among the signatories aligned.

Il·lustració que representa les principals conclusions d'un estudi realitzat sobre l'evolució de la biodiversitat d'acord amb diferents estratègies. Autor: Adam Islaam (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2705-y).
Illustration representing the main findings of a study on the evolution of biodiversity in different scenarios. Image: Adam Islaam. Data: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2705-y.

Ten basic commitments 

Ten of the most relevant of the 23 targets to be fulfilled by 2030 are set out below. 

Related to protection: 

  1. Biodiversity must be more effectively conserved and managed so as to protect at least 30% of the planet’s terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas, especially those of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services. 
  2. At least 30% of degraded ecosystems must have been restored (or be under restoration).
  3. The loss of high-biodiversity areas must be reduced to close to zero. 

Related to our system of consumption and way of life: 

  1. Food waste must be halved, and overconsumption and waste generation significantly reduced. 
  2. The introduction of the alien species most likely to become invasive must be prevented, and the rates of introduction and establishment of other known or potential invasive alien species reduced by at least 50%. There must be greater emphasis on eradicating or controlling invasive alien species on islands.
  3. The excess of nutrients in ecosystems (attributable, in many cases, to pollution close to urban areas and imbalances in aquatic ecosystems) must be at least halved, as must the overall risk from pesticides and other highly hazardous chemicals.

Related to economic and financial management: 

  1. The subsidies harmful to biodiversity which some governments currently issue must be reformed or eliminated, with a progressive reduction of at least 500 billion US dollars per year. Incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity must be scaled up.
  2. At least 200 billion US dollars per year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from public and private sources alike must be mobilized. 
  3. International financial flows from developed to developing countries must be raised to at least 20 billion US dollars per year by 2025 and at least 30 billion US dollars[PT1]  per year by 2030. This measure must prioritize countries with economies in transition and small island developing states. 
  4. Large financial institutions and companies must be required to monitor, assess and transparently disclose the impacts on biodiversity of their operations, supply and value chains, and portfolios.
The CREAF delegation at COP15: Dani Villero, Sergi Herrando, Lluís Brotons and Alícia Pérez-Porro (from left to right). Photo: CREAF.

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