COP15: A Historic Deal to Halt Biodiversity Loss by 2030

December 20, 2022
Authors
  • Laura Donnelly portrait

    Laura Donnelly

    Director, Nature

  • Juliette Pugliesi portrait

    Juliette Pugliesi

    Manager, Nature

  • Erin Leitheiser portrait

    Erin Leitheiser

    Associate Director, Nature and Climate

Key Points

  • The “30 by 30” target commits governments to conserve nearly a third of Earth for nature by 2030.
  • A human rights-based approach to Indigenous communities is at the heart of conservation efforts.
  • The first quarter of 2023 is critical, as the corporate community harnesses the momentum of the event, considers the implications of the Global Biodiversity Framework, and moves forward on new initiatives to protect nature.

Monday, December 19 was a historic day for nature and biodiversity, marking the adoption of a Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montréal (COP15). This global agreement—which many see as an equivalent of the Paris agreement for climate—commits the world to halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.

After two weeks of immense engagement from the world’s largest business and financial institutions, NGOs, governments, and indigenous communities—and following four years of negotiations and COVID-related delays—196 countries adopted the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework agreement. Notably, the United States did not sign the agreement, the only country besides the Vatican not to ratify the framework.

 

Notable Aspects of the Global Biodiversity Framework

 

  1. The "30 by 30" Target. Target 3 commits to conserving 30% of “terrestrial, inland water, and of coastal and marine areas” by 2030. Additionally, Target 2 calls for restoring at least 30% of degraded land and waterways. Governments are also committing to protect areas of high biodiversity importance and with critical ecosystems in the remaining 70% of land and waterways on Earth.
     
  2. Human rights-based approach. Indigenous communities are mentioned explicitly in four of the targets—including Target 3 (the ’30 x 30’ Target). The GBF acknowledges that indigenous-led conservation models must become a norm this decade, and mandates the rights of indigenous communities to their traditional territories when achieving Target 3.
     
  3. Nature disclosure for business. The role of the corporate sector in achieving the GBF’s policy goals was outlined in several targets. Most notably, Target 15 agrees to “legal, administrative or policy measures to encourage and enable business” to “regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity […] along their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios.” This also includes compliance in relation to access and benefit sharing.
     
  4. Reform of environmentally harmful subsidies. Target 18 requires governments to “Identify by 2025, and eliminate, phase out or reform incentives, including subsidies harmful for biodiversity, […] while […] progressively reducing them by at least $500bn per year by 2030, starting with the most harmful incentives, and scale up positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.” Currently more than $1.8tn in annual subsidies go to industries connected to biodiversity loss.
     
  5. Biodiversity and nature financing. The framework estimates a biodiversity finance gap of 700 billion dollars (USD). Target 19 outlines financial expectations including “by 2030, mobilizing at least 200 billion United States Dollars per year”. This includes “leveraging private finance”, innovation in nature related financial market schemes, and community led non-market-based approaches to conservation–all of which will require private sector engagement.

The first quarter of 2023 will be critical as the corporate community harnesses the momentum of the event, considers the implications of the GBF and moves forward on new and existing initiatives to protect nature and halt biodiversity loss.

In the meantime, as the BSR team considers COP15’s implications and how it will influence our work with business on nature, four key themes emerge:

  1. Nature disclosures as the new norm. One of the breakthrough points of the agreement calls for large and transnational businesses to disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature and biodiversity. Leading up to COP15, the initiative Business for Nature led a groundbreaking campaign calling for mandatory nature disclosure that garnered more than 380 business signatories across sectors from more than 55 countries. It’s clear that in both the voluntary and mandatory space, nature disclosure is the new norm and expectation, sending a clear signal to business that they should begin mapping, analyzing, and reporting on their nature-related impacts and dependencies. Frameworks and initiatives such as Science Based Targets Network and Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures will be key levers for business to employ in order to meet their obligations in relation to disclosure as outlined in the GBF.
  2. Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) are an essential part of protecting and restoring nature. The rights and contributions of IPLC’s are respected and codified throughout the framework. Complimented by the focus on loss and damage and just transition agreed upon at the UNFCCC 'Climate' COP27, it’s clear that business can integrate meaningful and continuous engagement with IPLCs when assessing impacts and implementing nature-based solutions. This includes directly integrating a human rights lens into strategies and interventions to protect nature throughout the value chain.
  3. Major business transformation is on the horizon. The GBF includes specific rules and provisions for priority sectors—particularly agriculture and finance. The agreement includes a call to phase out harmful agricultural subsidies, and for broad moves toward more sustainable modes of production and consumption. Businesses will need to re-evaluate and transform their business models—including transitioning to more circular systems and degrowth—topics BSR will explore in more depth in forthcoming blogs. 
  4. Mobilization of financial flows to protect nature. Much discussion has surrounded how to realistically achieve the financing needed to deliver on the targets. Of the $200B annually that the GBF agrees to mobilize by 2030, developed countries are expected to contribute $20B by 2025 with an increase to $30B by 2030. To supplement this and to fill the immediate gap, recent initiatives such as Nature Action 100 have been launched with the intent of accelerating action by financial institutions to enact pressure through their investments.

As we move into 2023, BSR is looking forward to driving corporate action on nature through 1:1 and collaborative engagements across sectors and geographies. We will be focused on helping our members better understand their business’ relationship with nature, prepare for and meet evolving voluntary and mandatory expectations, and advance progress at the intersections of nature, human rights, and climate change.

Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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