Landmark biodiversity deal at Montreal - GulfToday

Landmark biodiversity deal at Montreal

The leadership of the UN-backed COP15 biodiversity conference applaud after passing the The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Reuters

The leadership of the UN-backed COP15 biodiversity conference applaud after passing the The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Reuters

The United Nations biodiversity summit at Montreal on Monday reached a landmark deal where it was agreed with a few murmurs of protest from African, Latin American and Asian developing countries about funding, that 30 per cent of land and water habitats will be protected by 2030. At the moment, there is provision for protecting 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of maritime natural resources.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of the global economy depends on natural resources, and it is important that these resources should be protected and nurtured for humanity to flourish and survive. Chinese environmental minister Huang Runqiu, chair of the COP15 nature declared the agreement adopted. The agreement also called for raising $200 billion by 2030 for biodiversity. But there are problematic parts of the agreement as well. It demanded that subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity should be phased out or reformed which could save $500 billion for nature. The major demand has been to cut down on pesticides and other chemicals in agriculture, and asking for better management of pests. As part of the financial package, there is a demand that there is a need to increase financing to poor countries to maintain biodiversity to $20 billion by 2025 and to $30 billion by 2030.

Pierre du Plessis from Namibia, the coordinator of the African group, described the deal as a bitter-sweet one when he said, “All elements are in there for a balance of unhappiness, which is the secret to achieving agreement in UN bodies.” The criticism is whether the developed countries will contribute to the funding needed to achieve the goal of preserving 30 per cent of land water habitat. On many of the issues involving finances, the rich countries had just failed to meet their end of the bargain. If the poorer countries were to preserve 30 per cent of the natural habitat – land and water – then it would adversely affect their own survival. The need is to make protecting nature an economically attractive proposition.

And it is not just the poor countries which are responsible for the depredation and depletion of natural sources. Even developed like the United States with their industrialised agriculture are causing as much harm as the poor people in the poor countries who destroy forests and fauna to survive. There is then need for a more holistic policy of conservation than has been achieved through the setting up of mere targets.

Andrew Deutz, director of global policy, institutions and conservation finance for The Nature Conservancy pointed out the real challenges and how much the agreements fall short of being effective deal. He said, “It contains some strong signals on finance and biodiversity but it fails to advance beyond the targets of 10 years ago in terms of addressing drivers of biodiversity loss in productive sectors like agriculture, fisheries, and infrastructure and thus still risks being fully transformational.”

While reaching an agreement is a landmark, but it is not sufficient unless the goals are met and necessary action, including funding, is taken. If there is recognition that half the global economy depends on natural resources, then sufficient care has to be taken to preserve and protect the natural resources. Agriculture will need to follow either inter-cropping or let half the cultivable land in the world lie fallow, and the other half should produce the food grains and other products. Similarly, international fishing needs to be regulated because depleting the fish leads to disaster. But this requires international cooperation, and national rivalries will have to be set aside. Habitat loss is one the main reasons for climate change. So saving habitat is a way to contain or push back the effects of climate change.

Related articles