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COP15: Was it a success?

By Ava Zardynezhad, January 18 2022

Just before the start of the new year, delegates from roughly 190 countries gathered in Montréal for the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15). The conference — which was originally supposed to be held in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — was held in Canada after being postponed four times. At its conclusion, news broke of a “historic” agreement between nations to conserve and protect global biodiversity. However, under a stronger lens, it seems like, similar to the organization of the summit itself, the negotiations during the conference lacked urgency and the deal achieved is elementary at best. 

The major agreement made during the COP15 was to preserve 30 per cent of Earth’s biodiversity by the end of the decade. To break this down, the agreement targets decreasing the loss of biodiversity to a net value of zero and setting an effective restoration and conservation goal of 30 per cent by 2030. Targets also include the management of polluters, invasive species as well as the effects of climate change. 

However, this agreement was not reached easily. According to a source from The Guardian, negotiations were met with a lack of coordination, political division, a general lack of helpfulness and silence. A majorly disputed factor at the COP15 was the financial capacity of the countries involved in reaching these biodiversity goals. Many African and South American states walked out of negotiations due to a lack of cooperation and willingness to show financial support by rich, Western nations. Many of the walkout countries have complained about a disregard for equity when it comes to the financial propulsion of the goals of this agreement. 

“It’s everyone’s problem, but we are not equally responsible for the drivers that have led to the destruction of biodiversity,” a delegate from a walkout nation has said. 

Illustration by Mackenzie Ashcroft

Without a concrete plan for mobilizing financial support, all these negotiations and seemingly well-intentioned and revolutionary agreements will be nothing more than a moot point. 

Despite these shortcomings, the summit has been at the forefront of a few breakthroughs. First and foremost, Indigenous activism has been at the heart of the COP15. Through the persistent efforts of global Indigenous groups, Indigenous knowledge, traditions and sustainable practices

have been repeatedly recognized in the resulting Kunming-Montréal Agreement. Moreover, sustainability and the preservation of biodiversity has been framed through an environmentally equitable lens, which is an incredibly big and valuable step. 

Canada has also made important commitments at the summit. Along with other G7 nations, Canada has entered a sustainable mining alliance, which will be incredibly useful as we start moving towards clean energy — which is heavily dependent on minerals. 

This agreement also holds promise for an alteration in the operations of big businesses and the footprints they leave. If the promised and discussed disclosures and agreements are implemented, there is hope for a greener future for humankind.

That being said, there’s still a long way to go to reverse the damages that have already been done to our natural world and to reconcile the toll that the growing human population will take on our ecosystems.

This article is a part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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