A United Nations conference has concluded with a global agreement to protect 30% of earth’s land area and 30% of its marine area by 2030.
The agreement also includes a commitment to reduce harmful government subsidies, halve food waste, and provide tens of billions of dollars a year to support conservation in developing countries.
However, the country home to one of the world’s largest rainforests objected.
Here’s what happened.
The conference was the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
It’s separate to the climate change summits also called COPs, focusing specifically on environmental conservation.
The conference was led by China but was held in Montreal, Canada due to Chinese COVID restrictions.
What was agreed?
The conference set a number of targets for 2030, including a commitment to protect 30% of the world’s land and marine areas. More than 100 countries had already made this commitment, including Australia.
Other targets included halving food waste, cutting $US500 billion per year in “harmful” government subsidies, reducing loss of highly biodiverse areas to “near zero” and reducing the use of pesticides and hazardous chemicals.
There was also a commitment for developed countries to provide at least $US30 billion a year for conservation in developing countries by 2030.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agreement showed the world was “finally starting to form a peace pact with nature,” although he warned it was crucial for countries to actually follow through on the commitments.
A deal was developed with the agreement of Brazil and Indonesia, two countries with large rainforests.
However, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to a large portion of the Congo rainforest, said proper process had not been followed and claimed their objections had been disregarded by the conference president.
Congolese Environment Minister Ève Bazaiba said the country would write to the UN Secretary-General registering disagreement.
“We didn’t accept it,” Baizaba said after the agreement was made.
“We don’t need people to tell us to conserve [our land]. Those who are asking us to protect our rainforests, to help humanity, we are asking those responsible for pollution for compensation. If they refuse, we are going to manage our own biodiversity.”
Uganda and Cameroon also raised objections.
Australia’s Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, who attended the conference, welcomed the agreement.
“History has been made,” Plibersek said in a statement. “We didn’t get everything we wanted. Others didn’t either. But with a bit of cooperation, compromise and common sense, we have achieved a lot for the world.”