Greater ambition and country leadership needed at UN biodiversity talks, says WWF

Posted on 01 March 2020

ROME, Italy (29 February) – As the first set of negotiations over a draft global biodiversity agreement close in Rome today, WWF is concerned that countries are not displaying the level of urgency and ambition required to tackle the world’s nature crisis.

Human activities are currently destroying nature at a rate much faster than it can replenish itself. A landmark UN report published last year revealed that one million species are threatened with extinction.

This week’s talks, taking place under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), provided the first opportunity for countries to discuss a draft biodiversity plan published in January. The final plan is expected to be adopted in October in Kunming, China, representing a once-in-a-decade opportunity to secure a global agreement to address nature loss and degradation.

WWF is urging countries to secure a global biodiversity agreement as least as comprehensive, ambitious and science-based as the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Without urgent action on biodiversity, the world will be at risk of not achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said: “Our relationship with nature is dangerously unbalanced. One million species are threatened with extinction and the way we currently produce and consume is risking irreparable damage to the very natural systems that underpin human well-being and prosperity, from forests to oceans and river systems.

“With science and society calling for urgent action on nature, alongside climate, it is disappointing to see limited ambition and leadership displayed by countries in Rome. The world must not miss the chance this year’s UN talks provide to secure a ‘Paris-style’ agreement for nature that includes a clear 2030 set of science-based and measurable goals and targets. It will now be critical that countries step up to the challenge in the next round of negotiations and ensure the draft agreement arrives in Kunming with the necessary ambition to deliver a nature positive world by the end of the decade.”

Negotiations in Rome centred around the need for spatial targets to protect at least 30% of habitats by 2030, as well as targets to halt the loss of species and preserve genetic diversity. A number of countries also supported targets to tackle the main drivers of biodiversity loss, which include agriculture, infrastructure, fisheries, forestry and the extractives industry. In WWF’s view, a 2030 target to reduce by 50% the negative ecological footprint of human production and consumption is essential to tackling both the direct and indirect drivers of nature loss.

Guido Broekhoven, Head of Policy Research and Development at WWF-International, said: “Halting and reversing the loss of nature is fundamental to securing a sustainable future for people and planet. It is critical that we take action to protect and restore natural habitats, but we won’t be successful unless we also tackle the drivers of nature loss, such as food and agriculture.

“This week has seen some progress, but not enough. My message to negotiators is that they must both drastically pick up their pace and work to significantly increase the level of ambition. Time is running out. We need countries to show leadership in tackling the world’s catastrophic loss of nature.”

WWF believes progress has been too slow on funding mobilisation, which will be critical to ensuring the costs of implementing the framework are not felt most keenly by developing countries. It is essential that the negotiations produce a complete package that includes accountability and transparency mechanisms that support the urgent, transformative and inclusive action necessary globally to halt and reverse nature loss.

Countries will next meet in May in Montreal, Canada, for a scientific and technical review of proposed changes to the text, and to discuss the framework’s implementation mechanism, before a critical negotiating session in Cali, Colombia, in July to update the draft plan.


Notes to Editors:

For further information, and to arrange interviews with WWF experts, contact:

WWF’s response to the zero draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (released to the public on 13 January 2020) can be found here.

The second meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework took place at the FAO headquarters in Rome from 24-29 February. Further details on the meet, including agenda, can be found here.

An overview of the UN biodiversity negotiations leading up to the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD, taking place 15-28 October 2020 in Kunming, China, can be found here.

About WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.
Deforestation and fire wood collection are destroying natural habitats.
© WWF / Simon de Trey White