(C) Mike Muzurakis, IISD ENB Photographer

Today’s blog is written by Fiona Dobson, International Policy Officer, and Georgina Chandler, Senior International Policy Officer, in reaction to the announcement of a new date and location for the vital Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 summit.


There is finally agreement on a new date and location for the all-important UN biodiversity summit, COP15. The summit will be held in Montreal, from December 5th to 17th 2022. The countdown is now on – 166 days to go – to the moment the world will adopt a new framework to save nature this decade.


The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international treaty where global decisions are made on how to conserve nature, sustainably use its resources, and fairly share the benefits that arise from biodiversity. Usually countries meet at a COP (Conference of the Parties) every two years to take these important decisions, but due to severe delays because of the Covid pandemic, we haven’t had one of these meetings for four years. 


Why is COP15 such a crucial moment for nature?

This upcoming COP – COP15 – is a particularly crucial one. It is where we’ll adopt a new ‘global biodiversity framework’ – which will set out a plan for how countries will work together to halt and reverse the loss of nature to achieve a Nature Positive world by 2030. The framework will include a set of goals and targets, ranging from how countries will protect and conserve areas for nature (famously the ’30 by 30’ target), to how they will address harmful subsidies, tackle pollution and more. 


Looking at China to lead 

The COP was meant to be held in Kunming, China, back in 2020, because the Presidency of the CBD is currently held by China. However, the Covid pandemic has made hosting a large-scale meeting in China very difficult, hence the decision to move location. Despite the meeting now set to take place in Montreal, Canada (which is where the UN Secretariat for the CBD is based), China will still retain the presidency, and we’ll be looking to them for continued leadership as we move to a final decision. 


A welcome decision 

RSPB welcomes this decision, which came shortly after a letter we co-signed to environment ministers calling for the date and location for COP15 to be formalised. We were clear that the lack of date was stalling progress, momentum and interest in this critical global agreement, and that all the while the biodiversity crisis is accelerating. This decision will now give the global community a moment to rally around – to call for our leaders to step up and take action. 

Our CEO, Beccy Speight, said it best: After over two years of delays to this vital global summit, we welcome the news that the Convention of Biological Diversity (COP15) is set to go ahead in Montreal in December 2022. At a time where almost half of our species here in the UK are declining, finding shared solutions to tackle the Nature and Climate Emergency cannot wait any longer.  

Nature is in crisis around the world and that is bad news for people too. Underpinning the ecosystems we all need in order to live, nature can provide clean air and water, healthy soils, pollination for growing food, and help us with mitigation and adaptation to climate change.  

With this revised date in place, we must now see the urgency required to drive ambitious new targets to halt and restore the loss of nature by 2030. There is no better time for the UK to push forwards the global framework needed to help protect some of our most-loved and important species and habitats. We urge the Prime Minister to show leadership for biodiversity on the world stage this December” 


What next? 

The new December date leaves just under 6 months to go. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to ensure that we arrive at COP15 ready to agree a framework that is ambitious, clear, measurable, and backed by the resources required to deliver it. 

This week, an intercessional meeting is taking place in Nairobi, Kenya to progress negotiations on the goals and targets for the new framework. This is picking up from where the last set of meetings left off in Geneva, which resulted in a lengthy, complicated draft framework. There is a vast amount to do in the six days of meetings to turn the draft into a clear text which reflects consensus. The announcement of a date for the COP itself should inject urgency into this week’s negotiations. We now have a hard deadline to drive momentum and political will towards. With the clock now ticking, these crucial negotiations are not the time to expand lists of asks but to build consensus and agree on ambitious outcomes.   


Reaching our destination 

This week’s decision is momentous: the long road to COP15 finally has a clear destination. There are still many miles to go, but with the right determination, enthusiasm, and support, we’re confident that we can get there, and head into 2023 with a robust action plan for the delivery of a Nature Positive world. 


Watch this space  

Next week we’ll report out on progress from the meetings in Nairobi, and look ahead to the next stops on the road. We’ll be particularly looking to UK government to show leadership and drive ambition.  


Further reading  

Check out this page on the BirdLife International website to learn more about our policy positions for the development of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: https://www.birdlife.org/projects/the-post-2020-global-biodiversity-framework-a-now-or-never-opportunity-for-nature/