World must secure a Paris-style agreement for nature, WWF urges as UN negotiations kick off in Rome

Posted on 24 February 2020

WWF is encouraging countries meeting in Rome to step up to the challenge of halting and reversing our catastrophic nature loss

ROME, Italy (24 February) – As once-in-a-decade United Nations biodiversity talks begin today in Rome, WWF urges countries not to miss the chance to secure a nature agreement as least as comprehensive, ambitious and science-based as the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

This week’s talks, taking place under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), kick off formal negotiations on a draft global biodiversity plan published in January. The final negotiated plan is expected to be formally adopted in October at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Kunming, China.

The need to deliver an agreement to halt and reverse nature loss has never been greater, with a series of indicators showing that our relationship with the natural world is dangerously imbalanced.

Nature is currently declining at rates unprecedented in human history, with up to one million species threatened by extinction. Since 1970, wildlife populations have declined on average by 60%. Over the same period, we have lost more than half of the world’s coral reefs and over a third of all wetlands.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said:

Nature underpins our health, well-being and livelihoods, yet we are destroying it much faster than it can replenish itself. This year, we have a historic opportunity to change course for the sake of people and planet. Countries must come together to deliver an ambitious global agreement to recover nature, to complement the agreement we have for climate.

‘Tackling nature loss and degradation requires us to set science-based targets for nature similar to the carbon neutrality goal of the Paris Agreement. We must bend the curve on nature loss and commit to being nature-positive by the end of the decade.’

WWF is certain that a mission of halting and reversing biodiversity loss and placing nature on the path to recovery by 2030 is both necessary and achievable. It is therefore critical that negotiators in Rome work to increase the level of ambition in the draft plan while also ensuring the drivers of nature loss, such as unsustainable agricultural practices and deforestation are addressed.

Countries must negotiate a comprehensive nature agreement that spurs all sectors of society and governments into urgent and transformative action. This requires the final adopted text to contain sectoral targets to make areas such as food systems, fisheries, forestry and the infrastructure sector  sustainable.


Guido Broekhoven, Head of Policy Research and Development at WWF-International, said:

“This week’s talks are the first step toward securing a transformative agreement for nature. Countries must ensure that when the draft plan arrives in Kunming it contains the necessary level of ambition to place nature on the path to recovery by 2030.

“Rebalancing our relationship with nature requires action across society and is essential to securing long-term human well-being and development. To halt and reverse nature loss, it is essential we tackle its drivers. This means transforming our food and agricultural systems, and how we consume more broadly.”

WWF welcomes the set of goals presented in the draft UN plan, which have a clear link to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but encourages countries to push for bigger targets for 2030, including a net increase in the area and integrity of natural habitats, and at a minimum zero human induced loss of species. In order to address the drivers of biodiversity loss, including climate change, WWF further urges parties to adopt a goal or outcome to reduce the negative footprint of production and consumption by 50% by 2030.


With negotiations underway for a biodiversity agreement, upcoming action on climate, oceans, and plastics, as well as a renewed commitment to the environment planned under the SDGs, 2020 is being hailed by many as a ‘super year’, offering governments the chance to unite the environmental, climate and development agendas. 


WWF highlights that in order to ensure that the CBD delivers on the ambition of halting and reversing nature loss, political commitment is needed at the highest level. A critical moment will be the UN biodiversity summit, taking place during the UN General Assembly in September, where Heads of Government have the opportunity to place nature at the heart of our political, economic and social systems.

Rome, Italy
© WWF Intl. / Antonio Amendola / The Stand