WWF: Crunch UN talks must place world on course for ‘Paris’-style agreement for nature

Posted on June, 20 2022

NAIROBI, Kenya (20 June 2022)With government representatives meeting in Nairobi this week for UN talks aiming to reach consensus on a global biodiversity plan to address the world’s catastrophic loss of nature, WWF believes it is “mind-boggling” that governments have so far failed to reach common ground on an ambitious agreement that secures a nature-positive world by 2030.

The crunch talks, running 21-26 June, come ahead of the COP15 biodiversity conference scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, later this year, and take place under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “In the face of accelerating nature loss that is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, affecting entire economic sectors and undercutting our efforts to tackle the climate crisis, it is mind-boggling that governments have so far failed to reach common ground on an ambitious global biodiversity plan with all the ingredients necessary to secure a nature-positive world by 2030.

“Preserving and sustainably managing natural resources and nature’s services has become a security issue for our economy and society. This week’s negotiations in Nairobi will reveal whether governments are truly serious about tackling the nature crisis. It is essential that they knuckle down, negotiate, and produce a draft action plan that is able to reverse nature loss by the end of the decade, close-to-final, and can be adopted in Kunming later this year. We cannot afford another missed opportunity or a drawn out process - sticking points such as action to tackle unsustainable agriculture, and the mobilization of funding must be addressed head-on.”

The COP15 conference, where the final plan will be formally adopted, represents a once-in-a-decade opportunity for world leaders to deliver a ‘Paris’-style agreement for nature. With more than one million species now threatened with extinction, deforestation rates alarmingly high, and overfishing impacting marine life globally, science is clear that the world is running out of time to take the decisive action needed to safeguard the health of the planet’s critical ecosystems.

The Nairobi talks were only announced in March after the previous round of UN negotiations in Geneva failed to make sufficient progress, with countries disagreeing on issues such as biodiversity finance and the equitable sharing of benefits. They therefore represent a decisive moment when governments must step up their efforts to secure an ambitious plan capable of reversing biodiversity loss this decade, or risk a failure in Kunming.

Lin Li, Director, Global Policy and Advocacy at WWF International said: “It is concerning that the draft text currently on the table does not include provisions for a strong implementation mechanism. This is essential to hold countries to account and ensure commitments are followed up by increased action over time. Negotiators should take inspiration from the ‘review-and-ratchet’ mechanism included in the Paris Agreement on climate change. At the same time, they must secure agreement to redirect existing and mobilize new financial resources to accelerate implementation at the global level. Without a strong implementation mechanism and sufficient finance, a global plan is just that - a plan.”

WWF stresses the need for strong leadership in the talks and for negotiators to concentrate on finding common ground on key issues so that a clean text arrives in Kunming for adoption at COP15, which has itself been delayed by more than two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In WWF’s view, Nairobi must be the moment when countries converge around a shared mission of reversing biodiversity loss for a nature-positive world by 2030. This ambitious global goal is both necessary in the face of unprecedented biodiversity loss and essential to drive action across society, in the same way as the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement does for climate. Its adoption at COP15 would be historic - provided it is part of a comprehensive package of commitments to drive immediate action on the ground.

WWF is calling for governments to include a goal of halving the footprint of production and consumption by 2030. A WWF report, published last year, outlines the significant economic and health benefits of action. The world currently spends at least US$520 billion annually on harmful agricultural subsidies.

Alice Ruhweza, Regional Director for Africa, WWF International, said: “With the world facing increased food insecurity, and food prices soaring here in Africa as well as globally, negotiators must ensure that the draft plan includes stronger commitments to transition to sustainable food systems. Our broken food systems currently drive 70% of biodiversity loss on land and 50% on water. Fixing them, as well as urgent shifts in the way we produce and consume, is critical to enhancing resilience and bending the curve on nature loss."


Notes to Editors
  • For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact news@wwfint.org 
  • WWF spokespeople on the ground in Nairobi include Marco Lambertini; Lin Li, Director of Global Policy and Advocacy at WWF International;  Alice Ruhweza; and Guido Broekhoven, Head of Policy, Research and Development at WWF International. 
  • WWF recommendations for the WG2020-4 meetings in Nairobi are available to view here.
The Nairobi talks are expected to also see a continued push for a goal of protecting 30% of land and water globally by 2030 to be included in the UN plan. WWF strongly supports such a goal, provided it is conditioned on the rights and roles of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. New research by University of British Columbia, WWF and the University of Colorado published in Nature maps for the first time how animals move between existing protected areas, and introduces a first-of-its-kind index for measuring the connectivity of protected areas which could prove crucial in informing future spatial conservation efforts. WWF experts are available to discuss the findings.