Draft UN biodiversity agreement falls short, says WWF

Posted on July, 12 2021

In WWF’s assessment, the current draft agreement, published by the Convention on Biological Diversity, lacks both the ambition and urgency required to reverse biodiversity loss and secure a nature-positive world this decade.
  • UN publishes first draft of global agreement aimed at addressing the nature crisis
  • Draft plan lacks ambition and urgency necessary to reverse biodiversity loss, despite high-level commitments
  • One million species are currently threatened with extinction
GLAND, Switzerland (12 July 2021) - In response to the publication today of the first draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, WWF expresses concern that the world is failing to adequately respond to the nature crisis, thereby also jeopardising our ability to tackle the climate crisis and endangering the resources we all depend on for business and our very survival.

The draft agreement, published by the Convention on Biological Diversity based on discussions between governments, sets out proposed global goals and targets for nature. In WWF’s assessment, the current draft lacks both the ambition and urgency required to reverse biodiversity loss and secure a nature-positive world this decade.

Crucially, the low ambition of the first draft is at odds with the increasing number of world leaders signalling they are stepping up ambition on nature. To date, 89 world leaders have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, including through delivering a transformative post-2020 global biodiversity framework. In June, G7 leaders signed the G7 Nature Compact committing to halt and reverse biodiversity loss this decade by taking bold action for delivery of ambitious outcomes for nature in 2021.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said:
“While WWF welcomes the publication of the first draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework as a major step towards securing a crucial global biodiversity agreement, we are disappointed that the text, overall, does not reflect the ambition required to turn the tide on the nature crisis.
“We need the text to include a clear and measurable global goal for nature, similar to the one we have for climate. This is crucial to define adequate science-based targets and allow governments, businesses, investors and consumers to all contribute toward a shared goal. Eighty-nine world leaders have, to date, endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Yet the ambition and urgency contained in the draft agreement are significantly below what is necessary to secure a nature-positive world this decade. With human activities continuing to drive irreversible biodiversity loss, pushing species to extinction and ecosystems toward collapse, we urge leaders to step up and deliver on their commitments, instructing their negotiators to secure a transformational outcome.”

Human activities are currently driving an unprecedented loss of biodiversity, with one million species threatened with extinction. Last year, it was revealed that the world has not achieved any of its previous decade-long Aichi biodiversity targets.

WWF emphasises that the nature crisis requires a comprehensive, urgent and ambitious global response which includes both increased conservation action and a transformation of the drivers of biodiversity loss, including our agriculture, food system and infrastructure which all need shifts to sustainable alternatives.

As such, WWF welcomes the inclusion of a target to protect 30% of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030, which must be conditional to a rights-based approach which recognizes, secures and protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to their lands and waters. However, the lack of a milestone to halve the footprint of production and consumption by 2030, and an especially weak species milestone, are very concerning.

Guido Broekhoven, Head of Policy Research and Development at WWF International, said:
“The draft text contains many of the elements necessary to a successful nature agreement, but it falls short in several key areas. Action to protect ecosystems is vital, but we will not be successful in securing a nature-positive world unless we also address the drivers of biodiversity loss, moving to sustainable systems of production and consumption, and healthy and sustainable diets. Similarly, while the text does cover resource mobilization, the needs expressed are probably a significant underestimation.

“We urgently call on countries to work together to strengthen the text. The world must not miss this once-in-a-decade chance to secure a Paris-style agreement for nature.” 

WWF further notes that the language in the draft text on responsibility and transparency is particularly weak. It will be essential that parties work to strengthen this section, ensuring the inclusion of an effective implementation mechanism in the final agreement that holds countries to account. To avoid a repetition of the Aichi targets, a strong implementation mechanism is essential, including to support a whole-of-country and society approach, and sector engagement. 

Parties must now urgently work to strengthen the draft agreement at the next round of UN negotiations in August. To halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity, it is essential that a comprehensive package is adopted at COP15 in Kunming, China.
Lambertini added:
“We can’t risk another lost decade for nature. Science has never been clearer: action on nature is not just essential to reducing our vulnerability to future pandemics, it is critical to tackling the climate crisis and securing an equitable and prosperous future for all.”


For further information, please contact news@wwfint.org 

Notes to Editors:
  • Negotiations over the post-2020 global biodiversity framework began in 2019, with the final agreement currently scheduled to be adopted in 2021 at the UN Biodiversity talks (COP15) in Kunming, China. 
  • Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity met physically in Rome in February 2020 (Open Ended Working Group-2) for a round of negotiations, and technical meetings (SBSTTA-24 and SBI-3) were recently conducted virtually. The next round of negotiations (OEWG-3) is scheduled to take place virtually from 23 August to 3 September.
  • In January 2020, the Convention on Biological Diversity published a ‘zero draft’ - a preliminary and incomplete draft of the final global biodiversity agreement. In August 2020, the CBD published an update to the ‘zero draft’. The ‘one draft’ is the first comprehensive draft containing all the elements that the OEWG co-chairs are proposing to include in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The SDGs recognize that people and nature are interconnected.
© James Morgan
New Deal for Nature and People
Halting Biodiversity Loss
© Wild Wonders of Europe/Staffan Widstrand/WWF