• In 2010, the international community adopted the twenty Aichi targets, to be achieved by the end of the coming decade, both to preserve biodiversity and ensure its sustainable use.

    None have been achieved.

  • COP15, which opens this Wednesday in Montreal, two years late, should launch the sequel, giving birth to a global framework for biodiversity, with a new battery of objectives to be achieved by 2030.

  • Enough to make this new summit crucial when a report by Ipbes – the equivalent of the IPCC on biodiversity – confirmed in 2019 the alarming decline in biodiversity.

    Hence the calls to set this COP15 in stone, as COP21 was for the climate.

It's a bit like trains: one COP can hide another.

Fifteen days after the closing of the 27th COP on climate change in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt), almost all the world's diplomats are meeting from this Wednesday, and until December 19, in Montreal.

It will be COP15 “biodiversity”, an international summit that brings together the 197 parties* to have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

This CBD, launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, also has its COPs.

They are less publicized than their climate cousins, although the erosion of biodiversity is an equally major environmental crisis, the two being very closely linked.

Will there be a surge in Montreal?

Calls are increasing to make this “biodiversity” COP15 the equivalent of what COP21 was, in Paris in 2015, for the climate.

In any case, the agenda has everything to make this summit go down in history.

States will have to commit to a new global framework to try to put an end, by 2030, to the destruction of ecosystems and the erosion of biodiversity.

Overview of the issues.

A COP15 in a complicated context?

The very organization of this COP was chaotic.

It was to be held in October 2020, in Kunming, China.

The Covid-19 led to a cascade of postponements, to the point of deciding to organize it in two phases.

A first took place virtually in October 2021. The second will therefore begin in Montreal, where the CBD has its secretariat.

But China keeps the presidency, which is not without posing difficulties.

“To date, China has not invited any head of state, Xi Jinping himself has not even planned to go there, points out Juliette Landry, researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (Iddri ).

Civil society is pushing for Justin Trudeau to issue the invitations, but that can be a source of tension between China and Canada, whose relations are already complicated.


Nor is this COP15 immune to the war in Ukraine and the new world order it has created.

Not hermetic either to the COP27 "climate" which ended with a very mixed record, without managing to completely restore confidence between countries of the North and the South.

Sébastien Treyer, managing director of IDDRI, mentions some good news all the same.

“Lula came to power in Brazil ** and China and the United States at least spoke to each other again at the last G20, he recalls.

The G7 recognized the massive need for investment from developing countries (DCs) to tackle environmental challenges, and there were calls in Sharm el-Sheikh, including by Emmanuel Macron, to reform global finance to allow the countries of the South to have easier access to them.

This question will also be crucial in Montreal.


What is this global post-2020 framework to be defined in Montreal?

Countries will have to agree on a strategic plan for biological diversity up to 2030, which aims as much to safeguard it as to ensure the sustainable use of the benefits it provides to people.

The last similar exercise dates back more than ten years, to COP10 in Nagoya (Japan).

It led to the adoption of the 20 Aichi targets to be achieved before 2020. None have been achieved.

“However, it was well written, believe Sébastien Treyer and Juliette Landry.

On the other hand, it did not provide for regular meetings to take stock of what had been undertaken in each country.


The post-2020 framework will have to correct the situation on the issue of monitoring.

This imperative figures well in the first drafts on which the delegations have begun to work, slips David Ainsworth, head of information at the CBD secretariat.

The text includes 21 targets grouped under four major objectives***.

But it is still filled with brackets, like so many points on which the 196 parties will have to agree.

"There were 2,000 at the end of the working meeting in Nairobi (Kenya) this summer," said David Ainsworth last Tuesday.

There are less than 1,000 left, and a final three-day working session, just before the opening of COP15, should further reduce the number.


"30% of protected areas by 2030", the main objective?

Target 3 sets the course to protect at least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030. This objective has every chance of appearing in the final agreement.

Without denying the importance of this target, Juliette Landry like Hélène Soubelet, Executive Director of the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity, recall that it is not enough.

“There is no consensus on what a protected area should be, and it is unlikely that this COP will achieve it, specifies the latter.

Therefore, it will be up to each country to define what protection criteria it applies in its areas.

In short, the risk is to protect perhaps more but not necessarily better.

It is also to forget to look at the remaining 70% of the globe, a crucial issue.

IDDRI lists other equally major targets present in this post-2020 framework, in particular two in agriculture, one of the main sectors impacting biodiversity.

Target 7, not easy to negotiate, on pollution.

The current text sets the objective of reducing by at least half, by 2030, the nutrients released into the environment [fertilizers in agriculture], by at least two thirds pesticides, and to eliminate any release of plastic waste.

The think-tank also ticks target 10, the commitment to ensure that all areas of agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably.

“Particularly thanks to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, a point on which the final text should insist,” says Juliette Landry.

The question of finances, also unavoidable?

The subject has tensed the negotiations of the last climate COPs, by dividing countries of the South and the North.

This “biodiversity” COP15 will not be able to oust it either.

While the need to significantly increase the resources allocated in the future framework is no longer the subject of debate, it remains to agree on the amounts.

“The minimum objective on the table is 200 billion dollars per year, but countries are pushing to increase this envelope to 600 billion”, specifies David Ainsworth.

Amounts that open, as for the climate, the debate on whether or not to create new resources to raise this money. 

Finally, just as much as the funding to be allocated to biodiversity, this COP15 will have to look at those who are responsible for its degradation


The amounts are even more astronomical, estimated at 3.800 billion dollars each year, says David Ainsworth.


“Living planet”: Climate change, a potential factor in species extinctions


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* That is 196 countries plus the European Union.

Only the United States and the Vatican have not ratified the convention. 

** Key country in CBD negotiations.

*** Juliette Landry divides these 21 targets into three large groups.

“The first aims to reduce threats to biodiversity and focuses on the five main pressures identified by Ipbes in its 2019 report, begins the researcher.

The second group of targets focuses on the sustainable use of elements of biodiversity.

The third, finally, dwells on the tools and solutions for the implementation of this post-2020 framework.

The decryption of the current text by the Foundation for Research and Biodiversity can also be found here.

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