Last month, I offered a view about the future direction of nature conservation.  I argued that the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity targets provide the best framework for  the tackling the loss of nature and ultimately helping it to recover. Given that existing biodiversity commitments expire in 2020, this week, my colleague Georgina Chandler, the RSPB's International Policy Officer, is in Montreal working with to BirdLife International team to influence the next stage in the crucial process of agreeing new global ambition for the next decade.  Below, Georgina outlines what she hopes will be achieved this week.

Mist lifting off reedbed at dawn, Minsmere RSPB Nature Reserve. Sites such as this will be crucial in helping nature adapt to a changing climate (Ben Andrew;

This week the French Government announced a 500 million pound a year plan to kick-start a global effort to save nature.  This comes after a series of reports showing shocking declines in wildlife, and a growing public recognition that whether it is the loss of insects from our fields and gardens, or the slaughter of elephants for ivory, we cannot continue to abuse our living planet without putting both its beauty and our own survival at risk. 
In 2020, leaders will come together in Beijing to sign a new agreement under the UN’s nature treaty – the grandly named Convention on Biological Diversity – in an effort to turn this gigantic problem around.  The CBD (as it is known) was signed in Rio at the same time as its sister convention on climate change.  But whilst the UN climate pact signed in Paris in 2015 is now famous around the world, the CBD is relatively unknown.  Despite countries having made some bold promises under its auspices in 2010, these pledges have never packed much of a punch amongst law-makers and particularly amongst treasury ministers.  As a result, we could argue that they have made limited difference to the continuing collapse in the abundance and diversity of non-human life on earth. 
If we are going to pass on our planetary home to our children in anything like a state of good health, this will have to change; the Beijing 2020 meeting will have to mean something.  Which is why I am attending a two-week meeting of scientists and officials in Montreal this Summer, to start to lay the groundwork for what a powerful agreement might look like, and what we need to do between now and 2020, to make this moment count for nature.  
The meeting has a broad agenda, but amongst its most important elements will be an effort to understand why little progress was made in meeting some of the last CBD goals. It turns out that whilst governments have worked hard to identify new areas that should be protected for nature, they’ve done little to tackle some of the wider causes of wildlife loss, from agricultural intensification to unsustainable fishing and habitat loss. 
If we are going to create a strong agreement in 2020, we need to understand how to set goals and targets that governments will take seriously.  This might mean having a much clearer set of national commitments pledged in the run up the 2020 summit, for example, and a system that allows governments everywhere to be held account for their successes and failures.   
It might also require us to have a clearer long-term goal for all of us to rally around.  Many people are attracted to the idea of a pledge to dedicate half the earth to nature, with sustainable human activity focussed in the remaining half; indeed, Boris Johnson, whilst he was still Foreign Secretary, referenced this idea only this week a speech on the illegal wildlife trade.  Now is the time to come together and work out if radical ideas like this can also support the lives and livelihoods of the millions of people, including Indigenous Peoples, for whom the worlds nature-rich places are home, and who are the stewards and custodians of their wealth of wildlife. 
Others are working on concepts of a global nature index which can allow us to track the ‘state of nature’ - its variety and abundance – and then set ourselves the goal of halting its downward slide and putting it back on the road to recovery.  
Let us hope that the biologists and policy makers, the diplomats and community representatives in Montreal throw all their energy into these discussions; because whilst they may seem technical, this is literally an ideas laboratory for saving life on earth. 
If all goes well, we should begin to see countries around the world coming forward with national pledges and offers of support for a global mission for nature.  The French government announced a series of actions at home to match their investment in the diplomacy needed to secure a strong agreement in Beijing.   
Back home in the UK, all four countries must now do the same.  In Westminster, we have new environmental legislation coming forward in the Autumn which will enshrine environmental principles in law and establish a new green watchdog.  Imagine if it also committed the government to ensure the recovery of the natural world?  That would be a something worth shouting about.
The journey to 2020 is a long one, and we will only get governments to make ambitious commitments if their public demand it.  In the run up to 2020, we’ll be offering our supporters opportunities to add their voice to this debate and show that they care enough to demand action.  You can start today, by telling the Westminster Government that their Environmental Watchdog needs to be much stronger than they’ve proposed.