Squirrel on top of a tree trunk

COP15 review - Major commitments achieved on biodiversity

Stewart Lenton Operations Manager
Stewart Lenton

Stewart Lenton is Operations Manager at SLR, having responsibility for a number of teams across the European region - one of which is the ecology team. Stewart’s background is in planning and EIA, working client side before moving into consultancy over 20 years ago. Stewart is also one of the Natural Capital leads within SLR, and also a member of EIC Natural Capital Task Force.

Stewart’s background in planning, coupled with his responsibility for the ecology team, enables him to engage with and guide clients with respect to the new mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain requirements which are part of our planning legislation. As a member of the EIC Natural Capital Task force Stewart interacts with the policy influencers involved in Natural Capital, such as DEFRA, and is able to share this insight about the future horizon for Natural Capital with clients.

In December 2022, COP 15 brought together the parties to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity for a two-week summit in Montreal. Where COP 27’s aim before it was to further efforts to limit climate change impacts, the goal of COP 15 was the protection of biodiversity. Fortunately, we’ve seen a number of major commitments achieved from COP 15.  

It is increasingly recognised that nature and biodiversity are critical to the health of our planet, greater society, and our economies. And while most businesses have substantial impacts and dependencies upon nature and biodiversity, much of this critical relationship is not well understood by these same business and financial institutions.

Supply chains are incredibly complex and often rely on practices that deplete biodiversity, similarly financial flows are often towards nature negative outcomes, despite the many counter claims from products and companies. Put simply, humans are exploiting and destroying nature on an unprecedented scale, with overconsumption, population growth, and intensive agriculture, as well as climate change, all contributing to this decline. Globally, biodiversity intactness is already significantly below the safe threshold required for processes such as pollination and nutrient cycling that we rely on for survival[1].

And whilst climate change is impacting biodiversity, we also face the double impact of nature and biodiversity being critical in meeting sustainable development goals and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Fortunately, events such as COP15 aid in bringing the global community together, to work to improve these bleak facts and statistics. Delivering a more optimistic outlook, the key outcome from COP 15 is the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). This landmark agreement will drive action on nature through to 2030 and will address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems, and protect indigenous rights.

The key outcomes within the GBF are the following global targets, to be achieved by 2030:

  • Conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s land, coastal areas, and oceans. (Currently, 17% of land and only 8% of marine areas are under protection.)
  • Restoration of 30% of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
  • Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance and high ecological integrity.
  • Halving global food waste.
  • Phasing out or reforming subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least US$500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
  • Mobilising at least $200 billion per year from public and private sources for biodiversity-related funding.
  • Raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries to at least $ 30 billion per year.
  • Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply, and value chains.

This final point will require all transnational companies to start to consider their interactions with nature, especially through their value chains; there are currently an increasing number of reporting frameworks both specifically for nature such as the Taskforce for Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) but also as components of carbon and other climate related reporting.

There are only seven years between now and 2030, the deadline for achieving the Global Biodiversity Framework targets. The message repeated frequently at COP15 was start now, we don’t have time to waste.

SLR works with organisations to help them understand their environmental impacts, reduce these, and identify opportunities to move towards a positive environmental impact.  We have expertise across all areas of sustainability, environmental impacts, climate change, ecology and biodiversity. Please get in touch to discuss the relationship between your business and biodiversity, and what we can achieve together.

 

Image credits: Ida Bailey Natural Capital & Nature Lead - Europe

 

[1] Analysis warns global biodiversity is below 'safe limit' ahead of COP 15 | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk)

Want to know more?

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss a project, our team would be happy to hear from you. Find out more