UN Biodiversity Conference CBD-COP15 Scores Historic Goal for Nature

Deep into extra time, long-awaited Global Biodiversity Framework finally makes it across the line - now the real work begins...

Chinook salmon leap upstream during their fabled migration.
Chinook Salmon Adult chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) jump up waterfall on their journey home to spawning waters. © Jeffrey Rich

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While the eyes of the billions were fixated on events on the soccer field in Qatar, thousands of miles away in Montreal, an even more momentous result was secured at UN Biodiversity Conference COP15. Years of painstaking negotiations culminated in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework – our shared international roadmap out of the crisis of nature loss and towards a more nature-positive world – which was finally approved in the early hours of the Canadian morning.

Commenting on this positive outcome from a meeting that was mired in deadlock last week, Andrew Deutz, Director of Global Policy, Institutions and Conservation Finance of Nature United’s global affiliate:  

“If more people grasped the pace, severity and long-term implications of biodiversity loss, the eyes of the world might have been focused on Montreal rather than Qatar over these two weeks.  

“Against a backdrop of dramatic ecological declines in the face of human-driven pressures, the world badly needed CBD-COP15 to deliver – and it did just that, scoring a win for people and nature. 

“The pandemic may have ultimately delayed China’s plans to host the full COP in Kunming after much perseverance – but it feels fitting that its delegation was still able to get the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) across the line.

“Make no mistake: this is an historic result for nature. The resulting Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework GBF provides a long-needed international blueprint to guide our collective turnaround of nature’s fortunes within this crucial decade.

“The highlights reel includes the adoption of the 30x30 target to secure the effective conservation of 30% of the world’s lands, seas and inland waters, and the make-or-break area of resource mobilization – put simply, securing the funds necessary to finance our transition towards a more nature-positive world by plugging the ~US$700B annual gap in nature finance and ensuring that all public and private financial flows become nature-positive over time. 

“The target within the finalized Framework on corporate disclosure of biodiversity risk also sends a powerful signal to companies that they should adjust their business models and investment strategies towards a nature-positive economy.

“On this note, it was heartening to see such momentum building in Montreal around biodiversity finance via initiatives like the High Ambition Coalition, Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, 10 Point Plan, and Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) movements.

“None of this is to sound downbeat about the breakthrough moment that the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework represents. At a time of such international flux, we should rightly celebrate the achievement of negotiators and civil society in delivering this agreement – while also recognizing that it represents the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, of the nature crisis.

“I saw first-hand in Montreal just how much effort negotiators, civil society and NGO allies invested in achieving this breakthrough. To return to World Cup metaphors – it really did feel like a championship game heading into extra time in knife-edge fashion. The big difference is that while Leo Messi and teammates now get to hang up their boots and luxuriate in a hard-fought victory – for the global biodiversity community, the next phase of hard work already beckons: mainstreaming the framework’s architecture into country-level policy that will deliver meaning progress where it matters most: across the imperiled ecosystems that represent our planet’s collective life-support system.

“Nature United’s global affiliate stands ready across our global network to support what I hope will be a giant leap forward in humanity’s relationship with the natural world via the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.”

Elaborating further on the outcome from Montreal, Shaughn McArthur – Associate Director of Government Relations for Nature United commented:

“In welcoming the world to COP15 in Montreal, Canada stepped up to inspire collaboration towards a Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework that could offer a foundation to governments, civil society, Indigenous communities, and businesses that are committed to a more nature-positive world. This included commitments to Indigenous leadership as a vehicle of reconciliation, and to hold itself legally accountable for tackling biodiversity loss.

“Nature United looks forward to working with Canada to achieve these ambitions, in a way that upholds the spirit of the Framework and offers an example to people, governments and businesses worldwide.”

The full text of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework can be accessed here

Nature United was founded as a Canadian charity in 2014, building on decades of conservation in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, our organization has field staff located across the country. Nature United supports Indigenous leadership, sustainable economic development and science and large-scale conservation, primarily in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba. Our organization is also working to accelerate Natural Climate Solutions at national and regional scales. To learn more, visit or follow @natureunited_ca.

We are the Canadian affiliate of The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization with more than a million members and a diverse team that includes more than 400 scientists. Our global organization works in 79 countries — either directly or through partnerships — to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press.