Hopes revive for COP15 on biodiversity as move to Canada mooted

The much-delayed conference may now take place in December 2022, reports suggest.

The much-delayed UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) could finally take place in Montreal, Canada, in December, according to news reports.

The conference, which it is hoped will do for biodiversity what COP21 in Paris did for climate, aims to achieve sign-off on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – an international agreement on how we can “live in harmony with nature” by 2050.

Originally scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, in October 2020, it has been beset with delays due to Covid-19. 

When it proved impossible to convene the full conference last year, COP15 was divided into two parts. The first leg was held in October 2021 and saw the adoption of the Kunming Declaration; a “statement of political will”, committing the world’s governments to develop and execute the framework.  

The second part was scheduled for May, but was pushed to August and then October due to China’s ongoing covid restrictions. 

Then on Sunday, The Energy Mix pointed to tweets by Li Shuo, senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace East Asia, that suggested it would now take place in Canada in December.

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity told Responsible Investor: “We are expecting to make an announcement soon that will sort out all these details.” They added that this would likely be before the opening of negotiations in Nairobi, which start on Tuesday.

Roel Nozeman, senior adviser on biodiversity at ASN Bank and programme director at Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials, told RI: “It’s good that after two years of postponement we now have the much desired clarity that COP15 will take place in Montreal, Canada. We hope that Montreal will become known as the Paris conference for biodiversity and will prove to be a turning point in our relationship with nature. PBAF and its members will contribute to a successful COP.”

Anita de Horde, co-founder and coordinator Finance for Biodiversity Foundation, struck a less optimistic note. “I have mixed feelings,” she said. “It is disappointing that COP15 will be postponed again, because the world needs a Nature Agreement with ambitious goals and targets to reverse nature loss in 2030. Since the Aichi targets expired in 2020, we have wasted two precious years.”

She continued: “But at the same time we are very happy that the CBD secretariat is going to organize this COP15. Hopefully this is the last time it will be postponed and the remaining time will be used to build the most ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework and already look at means to implement the goals and targets.”

Just last week, a coalition of civil society groups and businesses urged environment ministers to formalise the date and location of the negotiations. 

Meanwhile in the UK, the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee will this afternoon join forces with the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee to question ministers on the government’s approach to COP15.