The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework explained

Posted on October, 01 2023

People marching for nature at a protest in Frankfurt

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is a historic agreement committing nations to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.

The agreement, which was adopted in Montreal on 19 December 2022, commits 196 countries to tackling nature loss. Biodiversity is in crisis. In the last 50 years wildlife populations have declined by 69%.
The new Global Biodiversity Framework was negotiated for over four years and marks the start of a fresh global commitment to tackle nature loss and move to a world where nature and people live in harmony together.

This is a crucial step in the right direction if we are to be nature positive by 2030 - meaning that we end the decade with more nature than we started with, not less.

Why do we need a global biodiversity framework?

Our world is in crisis. One million species face extinction. Human activities have already significantly altered three-quarters of the land on Earth and two-thirds of the ocean.

The speed at which we are losing nature is faster than ever before, with disastrous consequences for people and the planet.

Nature loss exacerbates climate change, undermines food security and puts people and communities at risk. We must act fast to reverse biodiversity loss - time is not on our side.

If things don’t change by the end of the decade, we risk even greater - and potentially irreversible - harm to our planet, and us.

Mangroves help defend coastal communities against natural disasters and provide a home for hundreds of species

Tackling an issue as big and as urgent as nature loss requires change across all areas of society - and across the world. In the same way the Paris Agreement of 2015 united nations against the climate crisis, the new global biodiversity agreement must set in motion a wave of action and awareness for nature on a global scale.

The Global Biodiversity Framework unites our efforts to meet the challenge of reversing the decline of biodiversity by 2030.

However, it is important to remember that it is just the first step, and now it is up to all of us to work together to ensure that it is implemented effectively.

Committing to reverse nature loss also helps us tackle another existential - and inter-related - threat to humanity: the climate crisis.

Nature is one of our biggest allies against climate change - forests, grasslands, wetlands, and the ocean itself all pull carbon and other greenhouse gasses from the air, while mangroves and coral reefs protect us against floods, hurricanes, and extreme weather events that occur more frequently due to our changing climate.

We need nature more than nature needs us. Dzame Shehi collects firewood for cooking, Kwale, Kenya.

What have countries agreed to do to tackle nature loss?

The new global agreement holds countries accountable for reversing their impact on our natural world. It aims to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 - helping secure a nature-positive world for all and ensuring that we end the decade with more nature not less.

With the existential threats nature loss poses, this is not just important but necessary.

But reversing biodiversity loss will only be possible if all countries work together and play their part in protecting and restoring nature.

The agreement’s 23 targets include a global target to conserve at least 30% of the world’s land, freshwater and seas by 2030, as well as a target to restore 30% of degraded places, also by 2030.

This must be done with the full participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities - the custodians of much of our remaining intact biodiversity - with recognition of their rights, roles and responsibilities.

Addressing our unsustainable use and abuse of nature is also a vital part of the new agreement, including moving to sustainable agriculture, fisheries, and forestry.

WWF believes that we must halve humanity’s footprint of production and consumption globally, moving towards producing food with nature and not against it by applying methods such as agroforestry, planting trees on farmland to bring nature back in nature depleted places, and reducing food waste and overconsumption.

Also included is a target to halt species loss caused by humans by 2030.

Biodiversity is a delicately balanced network of relationships and when we lose one species it has knock on impacts on other species and the goods and services they provide to people across the world. For example if we lose bees our ability to produce food is impaired.

These ambitious targets mean nothing unless they are backed up by the necessary finance.

Fortunately, the new Global Biodiversity Framework commits countries to mobilize $200 billion in financial resources by 2025, as well as the phasing out or redistribution of subsidies that are harmful to nature.

It goes further: developed countries have also acknowledged their responsibility to support conservation efforts in poorer countries that are rich in biodiversity and commit in the agreement to provide $20 billion of international finance per year by 2025 to developing nations.

How will the global biodiversity framework be put into practice?

The world’s future is at stake. 196 countries have demonstrated leadership and ambition in adopting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Although it is not legally binding, the global goals and targets in this agreement give countries a set of markers to guide action equal to their ambition, from targets for protecting and restoring ecosystems to halting the loss of species and working with a human-rights based approach.

Countries must now translate this overarching global plan into national actions for implementation on the ground.

They are required to update their national biodiversity plans - the plans at country level that will describe the actions that collectively add up to achieve the global goals set in the framework - and submit them to the United Nations by the next global biodiversity conference in 2024.

These plans must comply with all targets in the Global Biodiversity Framework and, importantly, be accompanied by a biodiversity financing plan that includes opportunities for private finance mobilization.

WWF is pushing for governments to be as ambitious as possible with their national biodiversity plans, including by developing a guide to support countries in updating their plans, drawing on expertise in conservation and offering advice for best practice.

Is this the decade of action for nature? 

This has to be a decade of action for nature. There is no going back - we have already lost too much.

Governments have stood and been counted, they have committed and now the time has come to put this ambition into action.

The Global Biodiversity Framework does not only commit governments to take action for a nature-positive world. It requires action across society. Organizations, businesses and individuals must all play their part.

The movement is growing and WWF is spreading the word. With wide support for a strong nature agreement, countries will see that there is no space for excuses.