COP15 Kunming: UN biodiversity summit set to be delayed a fourth time

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The COP15 summit on the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, due to be held at Kunming in China during April and May, will now be held in August instead, New Scientist understands



Environment



8 March 2022
, updated 8 March 2022

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Xinhua/Shutterstock (12538561d) Photo taken on Sept. 26, 2021 shows an exterior view of the Fuligong Greenhouses at Kunming Botanical Garden in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province. China Yunnan Kunming Cop15 Botanical Garden Fuligong - 26 Sep 2021

Kunming Botanical Garden in Kunming, China, where COP15 is due to take place

Xinhua/Shutterstock

A crunch United Nations summit to agree a new global deal to arrest declining biodiversity and the destruction of nature will soon be postponed for a fourth time, New Scientist understands.

A senior UN source said that the COP15 conference, which was due to be held at Kunming in China during April and May, will now start at the end of August instead. Past delays have been blamed on the covid-19 pandemic, despite similar major meetings on climate change going ahead.

The latest postponement means that COP15 will now take place almost two years later than originally scheduled, and leaves the world without targets for stemming extinctions and stopping habitat losses this decade. An official announcement hasn’t yet been made, but is expected when negotiations resume in Geneva, Switzerland, on 14 March.

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A spokesperson for the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN body behind the COP15 summit, told New Scientist: “The COP [conference of the parties] bureau, at its last meeting, discussed that the UN Biodiversity Conference could be moved to the third quarter. However, the official decision on this has not yet been taken.”

One of the key parts of the deal being negotiated, known as the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, is a goal to make 30 per cent of Earth’s land and seas into protected areas by 2030. Other issues include the ecological integrity of those areas and the agricultural subsidies that are a key driver of biodiversity loss.

While conservationists and economists regard a new global biodiversity deal as essential, the world has a poor track record in this area. None of the 20 goals that governments set in 2010 for 2020, including halving the rate at which natural habitats are being lost, were fully met. The UK government last year paused publishing new data monitoring the state of the country’s wildlife and ecosystems.

Sue Lieberman at the Wildlife Conservation Society, a US-based non-profit organisation, says: “Though it’s unfortunate that the COP in Kunming won’t take place until late August, we agree with many governments that such negotiations cannot take place productively through virtual means, and that governments and other stakeholders need to meet in person. Hopefully, the postponement will give governments sufficient time to adopt a strong, meaningful Global Biodiversity Framework.”

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