UK nature charities call on leaders to take global promises seriously

Curlew, Geltsdale Reserve  (c) RSPB-images

Today’s blog is written by Fiona Dobson, Senior Advocate, Global Policy, highlighting a letter from a group of leading nature charities which calls on the environment ministers from across the UK to commit to take their global nature commitments seriously.

A global action plan

In December 2022, the governments of almost 200 countries met in Montreal at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 to agree a new global plan to tackle biodiversity loss. The result was the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a landmark action plan with four global goals and 23 action targets, guided by a mission of halting and reversing the loss of nature by 2030. It’s not perfect (no international framework ever will be!), but it lays a critical foundation for turning the tide of nature loss.    

From global ambitions to national action

Crucially, success is only possible if countries turn their global promises into well-resourced national targets and action plans. Every country that is signed up to the CBD is now required to revise its plan – formally called a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) – to bring it in line with new global framework. The deadline is this October, ahead of the next big meeting of the CBD (COP16).

The UK’s chance to lead

The UK has said it wants to lead the pack, and is planning to release its NBSAP early; we’re expecting it this spring. Given that environmental policy is a devolved responsibility, each of the four countries of the UK are responsible for developing their own policy approaches towards meeting international biodiversity commitments together with their domestic priorities. This means developing the UK NBSAP requires collaboration between all the UK’s countries, as well as with the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. There’s certainly a lot of work to do: the four countries of the UK are amongst the most nature-depleted in the world. And WildLife and Countryside Link’s assessment of progress one year on from COP15 showed that decision makers have been ‘in hibernation’. But as a well-resourced nation with a history of environmental leadership, the UK has the potential produce an ambitious and coordinated NBSAP which sets a strong example for other countries.

Our joint call to the UK’s environment ministers

Today’s letter from environment NGOs called on environment ministers from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England, and those with responsibility for the UK Overseas Territories to:

  1. Champion a robust and ambitious NBSAP that sets the path for transformative action across the UK, its Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies, to recover species populations and protect and restore ecosystems.
  2. Commit to effective and timely delivery – including the proper resourcing and monitoring – of the UK NBSAP, and ensure longevity of this commitment
  3. Commit to taking action to fill any gaps that are identified between the KMGBF global targets and the national plans and strategies which comprise the UK NBSAP.
  4. Commit to taking a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in regular reviews of the UK NBSAP and the UK’s contributions towards the delivery of the KMGBF.

The letter welcomed the action going on in each of the UK countries and across the Overseas Territories, for example the proposals in Scotland and Wales to establish legally binding nature recovery targets, and the return of the Northern Ireland assembly which presents the opportunity to bring forward a similar legislative programme for nature restoration. But it’s crucial that the UK NBSAP, which brings together plans made at country level, adds up to a comprehensive whole that meets the scale of action needed for the UK’s contribution to the global targets.

With the 2030 deadline to halt and reverse global biodiversity loss less than 6 years away, now is the time for the countries of the UK to ensure that they’ve got a plan to turn promises into action.


More info: One year on from COP15: have promises turned into action for nature?  (