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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


19 December 2022  - The UN biodiversity summit in Montreal, under the presidency of China, has agreed a package that includes the world’s largest area-based commitment to biodiversity conservation ever made.

Within the 30 by 30 goal of the agreement, negotiated by more than 190 countries and setting out protection of 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans, another key breakthrough is the inclusion of indigenous people’s rights as an essential component of conservation. 

The progress made in the new Global Biodiversity Framework is a massive step forward to centre the protection and prioritisation of biodiversity on the global stage and create a new global consensus for action. However, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework failed to put in place key targets to ensure this ambition can be reached, leaving uncertainty about the credibility of the headline announcements. 

Clare Shine, CEO, CISL said: “Despite its flaws, COP15 is a turning point for humanity to forge a new relationship with nature. The fact we have managed to secure the ambition to halt and reverse biodiversity loss is testament to the clarity with which all nations understand the unprecedented challenge facing the planet. We believe this cornerstone agreement can and must herald a new era of collaborative leadership and action to restore the health, quality and abundance of nature globally while placing indigenous peoples and local communities at the heart of this transformation. 

"Key to the significance of COP15 has been the presence of progressive businesses and financial institutions, signalling the vital relationship between a thriving natural environment and our ability to maintain stable global and national economies. Much of what businesses have called for at Montreal was ahead of the political curve, urging governments and multilateral organisations to adopt bolder targets to drive the policies needed to accelerate and incentivise business action. However, for every gain made at COP15 there is a gap to fill. We still need a measurable bar for nature that is at least as ambitious as our targets for climate change. The real work to secure planetary health and human security is only beginning.” 

Eliot Whittington, Director of Policy, CISL said: “By establishing an ambitious, new global approach to protecting and restoring biodiversity, governments have sent a strong signal to business and financial institutions that the way the economy works will need to shift. Global governments have clearly established specific, numerical targets to restore degraded land and habitat and similarly to expand protected areas, to cut environmentally harmful subsidies and to expand resources available for protecting biodiversity. In each case the key will be in the implementation – governments need to buckle down and set out exactly how they will deliver these targets. 

“One of the most important measures for businesses and financial institutions will be target 15, which sets out clear requirements for business transparency and risk management when it comes to nature-related impacts and risks. Done well, this can and should prompt a new mandatory disclosure framework for larger businesses, delivered with an efficient and effective global approach – something the business community has supported vigorously at COP15. However, with complex language in the text and with the United States not even at the table, we risk a lack of a global level playing field if countries take different approaches, which could slow or even undermine action.” 

Grant Rudgley, Sustainable Finance Specialist, CISL said: “The global biodiversity framework (GBF) intends to be a plan for humanity to live ‘in harmony with nature’.1  Achieving this harmony requires the transformation of our economy, away from an extractive mode to a circular, regenerative future. The commitments of the GBF represent the correct direction of travel, with the target to conserve 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030 a seminal moment. However, the mandates do not look robust or supportive enough to achieve a regenerative future. 

“Businesses and financial institutions will not be mandated to disclose how they impact or depend on nature, and resources mobilised to support action are limited to the billions. This means we need to be as intelligent as possible about the public resources available, combine them with climate action funds where logical, and concentrate on creating an enabling environment that dramatically increases transparency about the relationship between economic activities and the natural world. This will help make decisions and investments in favour of nature the obvious choice, driving home the coming reality: that only those with access to the resilience, resources and other benefits nature provides can thrive.”  


Read the full COP15 Briefing here.


Zoe Kalus, Head of Media  

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