U.N. summit puts forward new draft of global deal to protect nature

U.N. summit puts forward new draft of global deal to protect nature


FILE PHOTO: COP15, the two-week U.N. Biodiversity summit in Montreal

© Thomson Reuters
FILE PHOTO: COP15, the two-week U.N. Biodiversity summit in Montreal

By Gloria Dickie and Isla Binnie

MONTREAL (Reuters) -With U.N. negotiations on a new global deal to protect nature in their final 48 hours, China on Sunday released a proposed text that will shape any agreement on conserving the world’s wild places and species.

The presidency of the Montreal summit is held by China, which is responsible for releasing the draft text, based on the last two weeks of negotiations, as the best compromise for parties to discuss going forward.

Ministers from nearly 200 governments now need to hammer out the details by Monday. Policymakers hope this can provide a framework to conserve nature through 2030 similar to that which began with an international pact to limit planet-warming carbon emissions struck in Paris in 2015.

The text, containing 23 targets, reflects consensus on protecting 30% of land and coastal and marine areas by 2030, a target informally known as 30-by-30. This has come to be seen as a landmark goal for efforts to protect nature.

However, the 30-by-30 target does not contain a global goal and makes limited mention of the ocean, which could leave international waters unprotected.

Financial mobilization has remained another key sticking point at the talks, and the draft puts forward allocating $200 billion per year for conservation initiatives – a target seen as critical for the successful implementation of any deal.

Developing countries were pushing for half of that – $100 billion per year – to flow from wealthy countries to poorer nations.

It also notes that the money can come voluntarily from any country – a nod to developed nations’ desire that countries with large economies, such as China and Brazil, also contribute funds.

One of the greatest points of contention among delegates has been whether a new fund should be established for that money. On Wednesday morning, developing country negotiators walked out of a financing meeting in protest. The draft does not mention setting up a new facility.

The text does not specify whether harmful subsidies should be eliminated, phased out or reformed, but does suggest they should be reduced by at least $500 billion per year by the decade’s end.

Other proposed instructions include directing policymakers to “encourage and enable” businesses to monitor, assess and disclose how they affect and are affected by biodiversity, but does not say these processes should be mandatory.

Lastly, the text does not address slashing the use of pesticides but does say that the risks from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals should be reduced by at least half.

(Reporting by Gloria Dickie and Isla Binnie; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)