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COP15: Countries Call For Support Of 30x30 And Leaders Endorse Indigenous Rights But Finance Commitments Fall Short

At virtual kick-off of COP15, tepid pledges don’t match urgent need for global action on nature protection

At the much-anticipated virtual opening of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Chinese President Xi, heads of state and ministers from around the world came together to stress the critical importance of conservation and the protection of Indigenous Peoples and local communities who safeguard nature.

The meeting, which will be followed by meetings in Geneva and Kunming, China next year, underlined growing ambition to change our relationship with nature. It indicated an urgency to agree upon a transformative global vision and commit the financial commitments necessary to champion the critical infrastructure, which are lagging behind.

The meeting, during which China took over the COP leadership, featured the following moments.

President Xi pledged $230 million to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries.

  • Governments stressed the critical importance of protecting at least 30% of the world’s lands and oceans in their comments, making “30x30” the most highlighted target by parties in the meeting. Countries included India, which recently joined the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, a group of more than 70 countries rallying for the inclusion of 30x30 in the final biodiversity treaty. 
  • The Kunming Declaration was adopted. The pact noted the growing support from countries for 30x30 and committed to increasing area based conservation, improving the effectiveness of protected and conserved areas, and recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. 
  • More than a dozen participants recognized the importance to achieving biodiversity outcomes of granting rights to Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
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Upon this meeting’s conclusion, parties will reconvene in 2022 for further negotiations and to come to a final agreement on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. 

Brian O’Donnell, Director, Campaign for Nature, said:

China’s $230 million funding pledge is a welcome step, but our hope is that this is only the beginning of China’s financial commitment as the world’s second-largest economy and the host nation for COP15. Wealthy nations will need to commit at least $80B per year to support developing countries, Indigenous peoples and local communities to safeguard nature. It is clear that transformative action and commitments are necessary and China is uniquely positioned to take the lead.

China has made great progress on nature protection within its borders--the country has indicated it is on course to protect nearly 30% of its lands. As the lead and host of the biodiversity talks, China has an important role to play in rallying global support for 30x30 land and ocean, a key component of the draft biodiversity treaty.

India recently joined more than 70 countries in the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People in a global effort to protect 30% of land and ocean by 2030.

Priorities for the COP included adoption of the 30x30 target, advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and securing major new funding for nature conservation.

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