COP 15 opens with 10-year hope to halt and reverse biodiversity loss

Accra, Dec, 07, GNA – The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has opened in Montreal, Canada.

The meeting has brought together global leaders to set out new goals and develop an action plan for plant and animals over the next decade.

COP15, which is being organised by UN CBD Secretariat, from December 7 – 19, 2022 will focus on protecting nature and halting biodiversity loss around the world.

More than 10,000 people, from 196 countries including government representatives, NGO members and journalists, have registered to attend the UN biodiversity summit in person, though the actual number of people who show up may be less.

Speaking at the opening of COP 15 Mr António Guterres, UN Secretary General, told delegates at the biodiversity-focused event that there must be “no excuses, no delays” for measures that would prevent the global population from “waging war on nature”.

The UN Secretary-General said humanity was a “weapon of mass extinction” that is “hellbent on destruction”.

He said: “We are out of harmony with nature. In fact, we are playing an entirely different song.

“Around the world, for hundreds of years, we have conducted a cacophony of chaos, played with instruments of destruction. Deforestation and desertification are creating wastelands of once-thriving ecosystems.

“Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics. Our addiction to fossil fuels has thrown our climate into chaos — from heatwaves and forest fires, to communities parched by heat and drought, or inundated and destroyed by terrifying floods.”

The UN Chief said the COP 15 meeting must result in humanity making peace with the natural world, instead of destroying it in the pursuit of profit.

“Multinational corporations are filling their bank accounts while emptying our world of its natural gifts,” he added.

“Ecosystems have become playthings of profit. With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction. We are treating nature like a toilet. And ultimately, we are committing suicide by proxy.

“The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B. We must fix the world we have. We must cherish this wonderous gift. We must make peace with nature. I urge you to do the right thing. Step up for nature.

“Step up for biodiversity. Step up for humanity. Together, let’s adopt and deliver an ambitious framework — a peace pact with nature — and pass on a better, greener, bluer and more sustainable world to our children.”

More than 1 million species are now threatened with extinction, vanishing at a rate not seen in 10 million years. As much as 40 per cent of Earth’s land surfaces are considered degraded, according to a 2022 UN Global Land Outlook assessment.

“We need governments to adopt a clear and urgent mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030,” said Eva Zabey, executive director of Business for Nature, a global coalition of businesses and conservation groups.

Like many other campaigners, Zabey called for “an ambitious, clear and enforceable international agreement” similar to the Paris Agreement on climate change. “We cannot afford to squander what could be a historic moment” in Montreal.

The UN biodiversity talks, held every two years, have never garnered the same attention as the world’s main environmental focus – the annual UN talks on climate change.

But there is increasing awareness that protecting nature and controlling climate change go hand-in-hand.

Healthy ecosystems such as forests and seagrass beds are key to controlling global warming. At the same time, rising global temperatures are increasingly threatening many ecosystems as well as species unable to adapt quickly or to move to cooler climes.

Overall, the UN hopes to persuade all countries to pledge to put at least 30 per cent of their land and sea areas under conservation by 2030 – a target often referred to as the “30-by-30” goal. Currently, only about 17 per cent of the world’s land area falls under some sort of protection, while less than 8 per cent of the global ocean is protected.

Another 22 potential targets are also being considered, from curbing pesticide use to canceling some $500 billion in subsidies for activities that cause damage to nature.

Source: Ghana News Agency