Governments collectively failing on nature pledges, finds new WWF report

Posted on 08 March 2022

WWF's latest report finds that despite world leaders publicly committing to secure an ambitious and transformative global biodiversity agreement, they have not yet collectively delivered on these promises in the negotiation room

GENEVA, Switzerland (9 March 2022) – Ahead of UN biodiversity talks kicking off on Sunday, a new WWF report reveals that the unambitious and limited draft global biodiversity agreement being negotiated by governments does not go far enough to reverse nature loss, falling far short of their recent commitments to tackle the world’s nature crisis.

WWF’s report, ‘Bridging the Gap: Translating political commitments into an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework’, assessed major international commitments which explicitly cover the negotiation of the global biodiversity agreement. It found that, despite world leaders publicly committing to secure an ambitious and transformative global biodiversity agreement capable of reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, they have not yet collectively delivered on these promises in the negotiation room.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said:

“Today’s catastrophic loss of nature is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, exacerbating climate change, and threatening both livelihoods and the global economy. World leaders have promised to act to protect nature and people by securing an ambitious global biodiversity agreement, but our new analysis reveals that much more needs to be done for actions to match words - and urgently.

“Leaders face a crisis of credibility and risk failing on their nature pledges if they do not act now to bridge the gap between nature-positive commitments and the unambitious and limited draft agreement. They must instruct their ministers and negotiators to ensure they deliver a science-based draft, with measurable goals and targets, embracing a unifying and clear global goal for nature - net-positive- like we have for climate. We need a strong agreement capable of uniting the world in reversing nature loss by 2030 and achieving a nature-positive future. More nature by 2030, not less.”

Crucially, the existing high-level commitments assessed in the study will not turn the tide on nature loss.

Taking place 14-29 March, the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, are the final opportunity for governments to negotiate on the once-in-a-decade global agreement before it arrives in Kunming, China, for adoption at the UN CBD COP15 biodiversity summit later this year.

The report finds nine areas in which the draft agreement is lacking. For example:

  • The current draft only requires that the “increase in the extinction rate [to species] is halted or reversed, and the extinction risk is reduced by at least 10 per cent”. Instead, countries should push for urgent action to prevent the extinction of threatened species from 2022 (i.e. immediately) and for the population abundance of species to be recovered by 2030;

  • A strong review and ratchet mechanism is lacking to ensure governments regularly review progress and increase action to hit targets;

  • The actions proposed to address unsustainable patterns of production and consumption in large part responsible for nature loss are insufficient; 

  • Commitments to halt or repurpose ALL subsidies harmful to nature are missing; 

  • No explicit reference ensuring the implementation of a rights-based approach.

The analysis indicates that the draft global agreement must be significantly strengthened if it is to match up with leaders’ promises to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030; as set out in a number of commitments, including the Kunming Declaration, the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and the G20 leaders communique.

The lack of specific and detailed targets for tackling the drivers of biodiversity loss is an area of particular concern, revealing a failure to follow through on high level commitments such as the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature; a joint statement by 113 countries, and the Kunming Declaration. WWF stresses that action to transform the key productive sectors driving biodiversity loss, most notably agriculture and food systems, is essential to tackling our escalating nature emergency.

Lin Li, Director, Global Policy and Advocacy at WWF International, said:

“The fact that leaders are currently n0t doing enough to turn the tide on nature loss, and in some instances are regressing on commitments in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi targets, should keep us all awake at night.

“With one million species now threatened with extinction, people are tired of empty promises. We want results, starting with the adoption of an historic agreement for nature that will ensure we protect all life on earth. Negotiators must increase ambition in Geneva through the inclusion of a clear and measurable nature-positive mission for 2030 which puts human rights at the forefront. At the same time, they must work to strengthen weak areas of the text.”


Notes to Editors

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  • Bridging the Gap: Translating political commitments into an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework analyzed commitments relating to the biodiversity negotiations made by governments which are party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The report will be available here from 9 March.

  • International commitments, declarations, resolutions and coalitions assessed by WWF’s team include the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature; the G7 2030 Nature Compact; the G20 Rome Leaders’ Declaration; IUCN Motion 40/Resolution 116 (World Conservation Congress 2021); the Kunming Declaration; the High Ambition Coalition for nature and people; the Global Oceans Alliance; the Sustainable Development Goals; the Aichi targets; the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use; and a joint statement endorsed by 113 countries at the virtual session of the third open ended working group.

  • WWF is urging governments meeting in Geneva to secure and ensure effective implementation of a ‘Paris-style’ agreement for nature that includes a clear set of science-based and measurable goals, milestones and targets. This must include a mission to ensure we have more nature in 2030 than we had in 2020, a target to conserve 30% of land, freshwater and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach, as well as a 2030 milestone to halve the footprint of production and consumption. 

  • Human activities are currently destroying nature at a rate much faster than it can replenish itself. A landmark 2018 UN study revealed that one million species are now threatened with extinction.

  • The UN biodiversity negotiations are scheduled to take place in Geneva from 14-29 March 2022.

  • WWF reaction to the First Draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, published in July 2021, is available to view here.

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© Thomas Calame