What is COP15?  Why it is important and what are the issues of the Montreal summit |  Radio-Canada News

What is COP15? Why it is important and what are the issues of the Montreal summit | Radio-Canada News

Thousands of delegates representing 192 countries will spend the next two weeks in Montreal crafting a once-in-a-decade agreement that will aim to build a more lasting relationship between humans and nature.

The UN biodiversity summit, known as COP15, officially kicks off on December 7 in Montreal. If all goes as planned, the conference will produce a new agreement outlining global biodiversity targets for the next 10 years.

The conference is supposed to end on December 19, but the negotiations could drag on.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the difference between COP15 and COP27?

COP, in United Nations jargon, simply means Conference of the Parties. It is a decision-making body made up of countries that have signed a convention.

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

The Montreal summit, COP15, is a meeting under the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 1992, 150 heads of government first signed this convention at the Rio Earth Summit.

While biodiversity and climate change are related issues, the two conventions are distinct.

This meeting marks the second part of COP15, sometimes referred to as COP Nature or the UN Biodiversity Summit. The first part was held last year as a mostly virtual conference based in Kunming, China.

Although it is organized in Montreal, the summit is chaired under the presidency of China.

Why should you care?

An endangered North Atlantic right whale is seen caught in a fishing rope with a newborn calf near Cumberland Island, Georgia, December 2, 2021. The UN framework on the biodiversity proposes more sustainable management of fisheries in a way that contributes to and restores biodiversity. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/The Associated Press)

The biodiversity summit is a big deal because it is likely to result in a new framework or agreement, setting 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 [comes from biodiversity]“, said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The ultimate goal is to halt biodiversity loss and build a lasting relationship with nature in response to unprecedented rates of nature decline and species extinction.

Why do we need a new plan?

Pressure is high to create a new deal with better oversight and funding after countries including Canada failed to meet the 2020 targets of the latest biodiversity plan, known as the Aichi Goals.

Basile Van Havre is helping to mediate the negotiations as co-chair of the open-ended working group of the Convention on Biological Diversity for a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

“The lesson of the Aichi system is that when you put in easy-to-understand numerical goals, they grab attention,” he said. “We need to put in place a much more robust system that allows progress to be measured as it happens.”

One of the main goals of the old Aichi Plan was to conserve at least 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

The new goal of the draft agreement is the famous 30 x 30 target: preserve 30% of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030.

Canada has already committed to honoring this commitment. The latest figures show that Canada has retained 13.5% of its land and freshwater and 13.9% of its marine territory.

What are the main objectives and challenges?

The draft agreement is still littered with items that need to be negotiated and finalized, but broadly speaking the key points include halting the loss of nature, preventing human-caused species extinction, reducing pollution, the sustainable management of agricultural and forestry industries, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of genetic resources. fairly.

There have been numerous calls from various environmental and indigenous groups for the framework to also recognize the leadership of indigenous communities as stewards of nature.

“The global community, in seeking to protect 30% of land and water, is in some ways catching up with Indigenous ambitions for conservation,” said Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and member of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, 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.”

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. (Submitted by Claire Farrell)

As for the sticking points in the negotiations, Van Havre said there were three main ones: how ambitious the plan should be, how it will be funded and how to ensure progress is measured and reported. transparently.

“The negotiation will be difficult, no doubt. There is a huge change at stake,” he said. “But I haven’t seen anyone say they don’t want a deal.”

When asked how likely there was a deal by Dec. 19, he said it was possible the talks could drag on.

“Will we be done on the 7 by 6 p.m.? Maybe not. Will I have granola bars in my pocket that day? Lots.”

Who is present?

A total of 15,723 people, including government officials, NGO members and journalists, have registered to attend the UN biodiversity summit in person, although the actual number of people who show up may be lower.

While the summit is hosted in Montreal, it is chaired by China. The only head of state expected is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. China will be represented by its environment minister and COP 15 president Huang Runqiu.

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

Mrema said heads of state need not attend, as long as they signal they are committed to the process.

“Hopefully at the end of the day there will be an agreement, a consensus … that is transformative and ambitious,” she said.

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