Historic biodiversity agreement reached at UN conference

Negotiators reached a historic deal to protect the world’s lands and oceans at a U.N. biodiversity conference Monday.

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Negotiators reached a historic deal to protect the world’s lands and oceans at a United Nations biodiversity conference Monday.

The agreement includes a commitment to protect 30% of land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030, and has been coined “30 by 30.” The percentage would be an increase on the 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine areas currently protected.

As part of the deal, $200 billion will be raised by 2030, along with plans to phase out or reform subsidies that could provide another $500 billion for similar causes.

Financing for poorer countries will increase to at least $20 billion per year by 2025, according to the agreement, set to increase to $30 billion annually by 2030.

The deal was reached on the final day of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, also known as COP15, in Montreal, Canada.

Most countries were in agreement that biodiversity should be prioritized in the face of changing climates, habitat loss and pollution, but there was disagreement across the 12-day summit as to exactly what should be done and how it would be financed.

“Many of us wanted more things in the text and more ambition but we got an ambitious package,” Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault said, as reported by the Associated Press.

“We have 30 by 30. Six months ago, who would have thought we could [reach] 30 by 30 in Montreal? We have an agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, to work on restoration, to reduce the use of pesticides,” Guilbeault said.

“This is tremendous progress,” he added.

‘A floor, not a ceiling’

While many see the agreement as progress, some argue “30 by 30” isn’t enough in itself to tackle the global biodiversity crisis.

“Governments will need to treat the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework as a floor, not a ceiling, for global action to halt the ongoing crisis of biodiversity,” Alfred DeGemmis, associate director of international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a press release.

“The framework sets out key actions that we will need to take … but it remains vague on the outcomes we need to achieve by 2030,” DeGemmis said.

And despite the name, many of the “30 by 30” actions have 2050 as a deadline rather than 2030, which isn’t urgent enough according to the society.

“That will be far too late for us to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and address related challenges such as climate change,” DeGemmis said.

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