Negotiators reached the landmark agreement early on Monday, the last day of the two-week UN biodiversity conference. It includes a commitment to save 30% of land and water by 2030 as well as significant financing to protect biodiversity in the developing world. Like the 2015 Paris Agreement, the COP15 deal marks a ‘historic moment’ and a significant step forward in the fight to restore our planet and slow down climate change.

After two weeks of debates, negotiators and representatives from 195 countries and more than 1,300 organisations in Montreal reached a historic COP15 deal to protect the world’s biodiversity and provide finance to restore habitats in the developing world.

The agreement, which came in the early hours of Monday, the last day of the UN biodiversity conference, is the culmination of nearly four years of talks to create a global framework for conservation efforts through the end of the century. It is often compared to the UN landmark Paris Agreement, with which countries agreed to limit global warming to 2C and ideally keep it closer to 1.5C. 

“It is truly a moment that will mark history as Paris did for climate,” Canada’s environment minister Steven Guilbeault told to reporters on Monday.

COP15 took place just weeks after the controversial COP27 summit, which ended with a historic pact on loss and damage but also a disappointing final agreement that lacks any mention of fossil fuel phase-down.

Besides the 30×30 goal – an ambitious plan to protect at least 30% of the world’s land, inland waters, coastal areas, and oceans by 2030 – negotiators also agreed on allocating US$200 per year for biodiversity initiatives both from the private and public sector, while developed countries pledged to provide $25 billion annually starting in 2025 and $30 billion by the end of the decade to poorer nations through a new biodiversity fund that will be created under the Global Environment Facility.

The Montreal conference also sent a message to the finance world, highlighting biodiversity loss as a new, imminent risk for asset managers. The COP15 deal is “a signal the financial community cannot ignore,” said Andy Howard, global head of sustainable investment at Schroders Plc, adding that it “should make financial regulators sit up and listen.” 

The agreement comes at a crucial time in history. Biodiversity loss is happening at the fastest pace ever recorded, making boosting conservation and ecosystem management pivotal to safeguard our planet and humans, whose lives and survival depend on it. A grim report published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) earlier this year found that the world has lost about 69% of its wildlife population in the past 50 years. The study also suggests that freshwater species have also been “disproportionately impacted”, plummeting 83% on average in only half a century. Among the species most threatened by overfishing are pink river dolphins and harlequin frogs. 

The new 23 goals listed in the COP15 deal replace the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, 20 biodiversity targets set by the UN Convention of Biological Diversity in 2011 to provide a framework in which the world and individual countries can address the growing rates of biodiversity loss. According to the 2020 Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, none of the Aichi biodiversity targets has been achieved at a global level. Out of the 20 goals, only six were partially achieved, 38 have shown progress while 13 have shown no progress.

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