Three weeks before the start of the 26th UN World Climate Conference, COP26, which will be held in Glasgow in the first half of November, the 15th Conference of the Parties on Biodiversity (COP15) opens today in Kunming, south west China, and ends on Friday 15. The two events, COP15 and COP26, are closely linked. Indeed, it is not possible to solve the climate crisis without also addressing the loss of biodiversity, and vice versa, since the two phenomena are closely linked. Due to the pandemic, COP15 has been postponed twice. To avoid rescheduling, the meetings will be held by video conference, pending the in-person conference, scheduled for 25 April to 8 May 2022 in Kunming, where governments will make formal commitments on biodiversity protection. China chose to host the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, which covers only 4% of the country’s territory but is home to three quarters of all protected species.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was launched at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, together with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The CBD’s aim is to ‘work for the conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable exploitation and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources’. The CBD has been ratified by 195 nations around the world, but not by the United States (or the Vatican City).
Concrete answers to reverse the trend are expected from the negotiations that will start today and continue until next spring. A particularly significant first result is that, for the first time, China seems to want to position itself as a world leader on the issue of biodiversity. Delegates will try to establish a new package of actions, 21 in all, to be achieved by 2030. These include the protection of at least 30% of land and marine areas, and the reduction of at least two-thirds of the total amount of pesticides used in agriculture. But it also aims to reduce the amount of capital granted to sectors and activities deemed harmful to biodiversity by ‘at least USD 500 billion a year’.