Nearly two hundred countries have reached an agreement on Better Nature Conservation in the Canadian city of Montreal. Worldwide, many species are disappearing on land and in the sea and ecosystems are deteriorating rapidly. Therefore, by 2030, at least 30 percent of the Earth should be protected.
EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said: “We have made history with this.”
The expansion of protected areas has been the main commitment of the European Union from the outset. Yet an important part of the two-week conference was not about biodiversity or setting such goals, but about money. The summit was therefore reminiscent of the UN climate summit in Egypt in November.
Rich countries have pledged to allocate 20 billion dollars (18.8 billion euros) annually by 2025 to help poorer countries protect biodiversity. This amount should have risen to 30 billion dollars by 2030. The planned total funding of domestic nature policy is then about seven times as large.
In addition, by 2030, 30 percent of the land, freshwater areas and oceans should receive officially protected status. Now that share is only 17 percent on land and 8 percent at sea.
Negotiations were similar to recent climate summit
There is a strong agreement between the Montreal Biodiversity Summit and the Climate Summit held a month earlier in Egypt’s Sharm-el-Sheikh.
The summits are based on environmental agreements from 1992, when both the UN climate treaty and the UN biodiversity treaty were established. From that period comes a division into ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries. In doing so, the rich countries must help the poorer countries to achieve the common environmental goals.
Thirty years later, there are countries that like to keep this classification that way and other countries that point out that the world has changed a lot economically. In the meantime, there is a middle group that has become much richer and, on the contrary, receives a lot of nature funding. It concerns countries such as China and Brazil.
EU calls for ‘new rich countries’ to step up efforts
The EU pointed this out when poor countries called at the summit in Montreal for a new International Biodiversity Fund to protect ecosystems. A month earlier in Egypt, the call for a new climate damage Fund sounded.
The EU was initially against such a new fund, but is in favour if countries that have become rich after 1992 also participate in the funding. According to Sinkevicius, China and Brazil and rich oil states in the Middle East, among others, would have to pay for it.
“The European Union is by far the largest financier of biodiversity. Other countries could make a big breakthrough if they match those amounts. We must also be clear about the Arab countries. Some have reached very different economic levels since the agreements.”
A political agreement does not yet mean biodiversity restoration
With such stigma, it remains to be seen whether world leaders do not lose sight of what it is actually about: the rapid decline of plants, animals and other natural life. According to the political agreement, this decline should have stopped in seven years.
If the new nature goals are not realized and the decline in biodiversity continues, the Earth is heading for a mass extinction wave. There are also signs of this in the Netherlands, such as the dramatic decline of insects in just a few decades.