UN biodiversity talks open, billed as ‘last chance’ for nature

MONTREAL— High-stakes UN biodiversity talks open in Montreal Wednesday, in what is being billed as the “last best chance” to save the planet’s species and ecosystems from irreversible human destruction.

Delegates from across the world gathered for the Dec 7 to Dec 19 meeting to try to hammer out a new deal for nature: A 10-year framework aimed at saving the planet’s forests, oceans and species before it’s too late.

“With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction,” UN chief Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday at a ceremony ahead of talks.

Before he took the dais, a group of around half a dozen Indigenous protesters interrupted a speech by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a sign of the passions inflamed by biodiversity loss among the most impacted communities.

The official opening of the meeting, known as COP15, follows several days of pre-negotiations that saw very little progress on key issues, sparking fears parties may walk away without a good deal.

The summit “is probably the last best chance for governments to turn things around for nature, and to rescue our precious life support system,” Bernadette Fischler Hooper, head of international Advocacy at WWF, told reporters Tuesday.

Draft targets for the 10-year framework include a cornerstone pledge to protect 30 per cent of the world’s land and seas by 2030, eliminating harmful fishing and agriculture subsidies and tackling invasive species and reducing pesticides.

Finance is among the most divisive issues as developing nations are demanding increased funding for conservation.

Earlier this year a coalition of nations called for wealthy countries to provide at least US$100 billion annually – rising to US$700 billion a year by 2030 – for biodiversity.

Some countries want to set up a separate funding mechanism for biodiversity, which wealthy nations have largely resisted.

The meeting, delayed two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, follows crucial climate change talks in Egypt last month that ended with little headway on reducing emissions and scaling down the use of planet-warming fossil fuels.

China is chair, though it is being hosted in Canada because of Beijing’s long-standing zero-COVID policy.

Elizabeth Mrema, the head of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which oversees the talks, on Tuesday urged “give and take” among negotiators, calling for “flexibility, compromise and consensus”.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK