Shortly before the start of the World Nature Summit in Montreal, Canada, the participating state representatives are hoping for substantial progress in global species protection. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) emphasized on Tuesday in Berlin the urgency of immediate measures against the mass death of animals and plants. The host country Canada expressed optimism shortly before the start. "We have the momentum on our side right now," Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said a few hours before the official opening ceremony.
Organizers, scientists and representatives of non-governmental organizations are hoping that meetings starting Wednesday will lead to a landmark global agreement on species protection. One of the main goals of the conference is to protect at least 30 percent of the world's land and sea areas by 2030. A solid financial basis for global species protection also plays an important role in the forthcoming negotiations. Germany recently pledged to provide 1.5 billion euros a year for this until 2025. Environmentalists consider this sum and the previous protection efforts to be too little.
trend reversal necessary
A global agreement must set "measurable goals" and bring about a turnaround, emphasized Lemke, who will also take part in the negotiations on site from December 14th. In addition, effective implementation and control mechanisms would have to be in place at the end. Humanity is currently destroying vital ecosystems at a "breathtaking pace". An adjustment to this is "no longer sufficiently guaranteed," she emphasized. "We are losing biodiversity at a terrible, rapid rate - up to 100 times faster than the average for the past 10 million years."
As one of the main concerns of the negotiations scheduled until December 19, Lemke named a global framework that must name all the main causes of species extinction - including the overexploitation of land, the exploitation of natural resources and global environmental pollution. In addition, progress is urgently needed on the protection goals for land and sea areas. So far, only a small proportion of the areas have been protected. If the target for 2030 were to be achieved, that would mean doubling the protected areas on land and quadrupling them in the seas, explained Lemke.
quality not quantity
It is expressly not only about setting numbers, but also about quality standards. Your goal is to define areas that should not be used at all, such as sea zones that would be excluded from fishing. There is scientific evidence that fish stocks could recover so significantly, said Lemke. The minister also advocated reducing state subsidies that endanger species protection and restoring areas that had already been degraded. These two points are also part of the negotiations.
The Greens politician conceded that the current geopolitical situation, including the energy price crisis, is "an extremely bad prerequisite" for the protection of global biodiversity. Overall, however, she sees room for progress. "The negotiations over the next few days will show how far we can get."
None of the agreed goals achieved
Shortly before the start of the nature conservation COP, other Green politicians and environmental organizations also campaigned for substantial progress. The Greens parliamentary group leader Britta Haßelmann pointed out that the world community had already agreed on goals for global species protection in the past, for example in Japan in 2010. "Not one of these goals was fully achieved," she told the dpa. She hopes for a sharpening in Montreal.
Meanwhile, the UN representative for biodiversity, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, emphasized the connection between species protection and the climate crisis: "The success of the framework or all of the goals here will have an impact on climate change." To do this, however, compromises must first be reached on all goals.
Overall, the expectations for the summit are high - many experts, however, were skeptical beforehand that they could be fully met. At present, all 22 points of the planned final document are at least partially disputed.
Originally, the 15th World Summit on Nature - which also goes by the abbreviation "COP-15" - should have taken place in China in 2020, but was then postponed and divided due to the ongoing pandemic situation there. The first part of the negotiations took place mainly online in Kunming last October.
Information about the conference