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Biodiversity negotiations await settlement text from China

China, the chairperson of the Biodiversity Summit currently being held in Montreal, will present on Sunday the text of a highly anticipated settlement, in an attempt to conclude a “Pact of Peace with Nature” that the world desperately needs.

Some cautious optimism began to spread on Saturday in the corridors of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 15), after a recent plenary session of environment ministers charged with breaking the impasse in negotiations over a roadmap to force humanity to stop the destruction of its vital environment by the year 2030.

Armed with the progress made, the Chinese presidency of the conference promised to present at 13:00 GMT a “text proposal” that would be “ambitious, balanced and applicable” despite the financial issue that is still thorny between the countries of the North and the South.

“It will not be a perfect document, and it will not be a document that satisfies everyone, but rather it is based on everyone’s efforts over the past four years, and it is a document that must be approved,” said Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, addressing his counterparts.

Later, he told reporters he was “very confident” about reaching an ambitious deal.

“We have made tremendous progress,” said Canadian Environment Minister Stephen Guilbo, who chairs this summit alongside China, which was unable to host it on its soil due to its strict anti-Covid-19 policy.

The goal for the 196 member states of the Convention on Biological Diversity is to reach an agreement by Monday of equal importance to the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.

Time is running out for the participants in the conference, as 75% of the world’s ecosystems have deteriorated, largely due to human activity, and more than a million species are threatened with extinction. The world’s prosperity is also at stake, as more than half of the world’s gross domestic product is linked to nature and the services it provides.

The text being negotiated constitutes a “global framework for biodiversity” and sets out some twenty targets that should be achieved by 2030 to live “in harmony with nature” in 2050.

Among these goals are protecting 30% of land and oceans by 2030, reducing pesticide use in half, restoring billions of damaged hectares, and forcing companies to publish their environmental footprint.
This framework will replace a ten-year plan signed in Japan in 2010, but which achieved almost none of its objectives. However, the implementation mechanisms that were lacking are now better spelled out.

But the devil is in the details, too. The details of the targets are still hotly debated, a matter of concern to environmentalists and indigenous peoples who account for 80% of the world’s current biodiversity.

“We cannot continue to demand compromises from nature,” warned New Zealand’s Minister for Nature Conservation Putuo Williams.

Many countries in the South fear that the adoption of very binding goals will interfere with their development and growth, or that these goals will be unattainable in the absence of funding sources.

In return for their efforts, these countries are asking rich countries to provide one hundred billion dollars annually, or almost ten times the value of current international assistance in the field of biodiversity.

The amount bears a political character, as it constitutes a request for solidarity and historical justice, similar to the hundred billion dollars promised to combat climate change, which has not yet been fully crystallized.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote Saturday, in a tweet, “The weakest countries contain treasures in the field of biodiversity. We have to increase funding to keep up with it,” he said, making an appeal to expand the donor pool.

Thursday indicators began. “We may define more precisely our financial ambitions when we look at the text,” said French Minister of Environmental Transition Christophe Piceau in Montreal.



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