Wildlife & Biodiversity

‘COP15 is our chance to start protecting and repairing the web of life’: UNEP chief

Post-2020 GBF with clear targets will help address multiple crises facing planet, said Inger Andersen, executive-director of UNEP

By Shuchita Jha
Published: Wednesday 07 December 2022

The cost of biodiversity loss goes way beyond financial losses and impacts human health and development, said Inger Andersen, executive-director of United Nations Environment Programme, at the inaugural ceremony of the 15th Convention of Parties (COP15) being held in Montreal, Canada.

In the two-week summit that started December 7, 2022, parties will negotiate the 23 targets for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (Post-2020 GBF). 

“We cannot afford to continue thrashing a path through the fragile web of nature and biodiversity to clear the way for human development,” said Andersen, adding: 

Species, ecosystems and the benefits that they provide, upon which we all depend, are degrading and slowly dying. The loss and degradation of biodiversity comes with a cost we measure in not just dollars but in livelihoods, hunger, disease, vulnerability, well-being and deaths.

She added that there was a need for an ‘ambitious and effective’ Post-2020 GBF, with clear targets and benchmarks that helps address the wider triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss as well as pollution and waste mismanagement. 

“Once adopted, the Global Biodiversity Framework will serve as a plan to conserve, sustainably use and rebuild the web of life. The negotiations must succeed here at COP, Andersen said. “If the web of life falls, we will fall with it. But if we shore it up and make it stronger, it will carry the full weight of humanity for centuries to come.”

Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, said while the two weeks of COP15 will be tough, an ambitious GBF negotiated in COP15 will aim to halt and reverse the destruction of nature, conserve 30 per cent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030 and mobilise resources. These include those from the government, philanthropy, private sector and multilateral institutions for the same working in partnership with indigenous people. 

In a three-day meeting, negotiators came together to clean up the text for the post-2020 GBF from December 3-5. The idea was to ensure that the draft for the framework has as few square brackets as possible so that it is accepted without further delay. Though very little progress was made in these three days, the texts for targets 20, 21 and 22 were cleaned up. 

After the 22nd target on Gender Equality was added after the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (Part I) in Costa Rica, a new target, Target 23 of ‘adopting a human / animal / ecosystem ‘One Health’ approach’ was introduced to the text of the framework. 

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