Joseph Lewis
December 2022

COP15: Can the biodiversity summit meet expectations?

canopy of trees

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) summit on biodiversity, COP15, has now begun, and will be taking place from 7th December to 19th December 2023 in Montreal, Canada. The summit was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but was significantly delayed, principally due to COVID-19. The summit will be tasked with negotiating a post-2020 framework for the global governance of the biodiversity crisis, as well as targets and other objectives under that framework.

What is COP15?

COP15 is a global summit for the parties to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity, which is its key environmental treaty for addressing biodiversity loss at a global level. Summits for the CBD are less frequent than for the equivalent climate change treaty, the UNFCCC, though no less important in securing positive environmental and social outcomes.

The summit being held now, COP15, is particularly important as it will be responsible for creating the post-2020 framework of targets and rules to address biodiversity loss. The first set of targets under the CBD, set out in 2010 in Aichi, Japan, were due to be met in 2020 and none were fully met. COP15 was scheduled to take place in line with the expiry of the first set of targets to negotiate a new series of targets and to advance action on biodiversity loss. As a result of delays, this work has not yet been completed.

COP15 is now tasked with creating what some commentators are referring to as a ‘Paris Agreement for nature’, creating an equivalent framework for global cooperation as the one that exists for the linked crisis of climate change. The ambition is to halt or reverse the decline of nature by 2030 at the latest.

In-depth: how can policy address biodiversity loss?

The UK Government and its international partners should seek to achieve transformative change by addressing the unsustainable systems which embed pressure on nature. Nature does not recognise political or national borders, so our approach must be global. The global community should agree a post-2020 framework which recognises the nature of interconnected systems and their potential for positive or negative effects on nature.

Click the sections below to see more recommendations from the IES.

What next?

Over the next two weeks, COP15 will become the crucible through which the future of global action to address biodiversity loss is decided. The IES will be following the negotiations with interest and a view to the successful implementation of targets and plans. As we do so, the interdisciplinary perspectives of IES members will be a crucial part of the network of insights necessary to ensure better outcomes for humanity and the natural world.

Add your voice to the conversation by becoming a member of the IES, of if you support environmental science but don’t work in the environment sector, considering joining as an affiliate