WWF: Dire lack of leadership and blockers in UN biodiversity talks make risk of failure at COP15 real

Posted on June, 26 2022

NAIROBI, Kenya (26 June 2022) – As the UN biodiversity talks draw to a close, WWF is deeply concerned by the lack of urgency and leadership shown by governments to prioritize nature loss at the highest level. Worse still, in WWF’s view, the negotiations are being held hostage by a small group of countries focused on undermining the process and weakening ambition.
The talks in Nairobi this week aimed to help governments reach consensus on agreeing an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework ahead of COP15 under the Convention of Biological Diversity – now scheduled for 5-17 December in Montreal, Canada. Governments have, however, made limited progress in Nairobi, leaving the chance of securing a transformative global agreement capable of tackling the world’s accelerating nature crisis hanging by a thread. 
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said: “In the face of catastrophic nature loss and the tragic consequences this is having on humanity, countries are failing to show the necessary urgency – it’s been groundhog day in Nairobi, with all the crucial decisions again kicked down the road. There is a huge amount of work to do at COP15. We’ve seen more of the same, as we did in Geneva, and if we are to see success in Montreal, it is essential that leaders place much greater priority on the negotiations. If we’re to have any chance of surviving the drastic environmental changes human activities are driving globally, the natural world on which we depend must remain productive and resilient - for mitigating climate change impacts, increasing food security, and reducing our vulnerability to pandemics.
“A step change in political will is needed if we are to resolve the huge differences on key issues in the talks, including the overall level of ambition across all goals. At the same time, we need leaders to counter the influence of a small number of countries, Brazil first and foremost, that are actively working to undermine the talks. Heads of State who have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 must now drive forward ambition to secure a transformative, nature-positive agreement in Montreal - otherwise the prospect of a failure at COP15 is incredibly real.
WWF welcomes the strong support in the Nairobi round of negotiations for an overarching goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, but stresses this is not enough. Ending the decade with more nature than we had at the start is essential to securing a sustainable future for both people and the planet. WWF emphasizes that a clear, nature-positive mission is vital to guide the direction of travel for the entire framework, and also ensure that the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change remains within reach.
WWF remains concerned with the lack of commitments in the draft agreement to tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss, most notably our broken food systems. Not only do our food systems drive 70% of biodiversity loss on land*, but a transition to sustainable agriculture is essential to delivering long-term food security and resilience. 
Despite frustrating progress across much of the framework, WWF welcomes the strong support for a target on gender equality in the Global Biodiversity Framework as well as wide support for the recognition of the rights and roles of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. To avoid repeating the failure of the Aichi Targets, however, the final agreement must include a strong implementation mechanism that allows countries to review progress against targets and increase action over time. 
Lin Li, Global Policy and Advocacy Director of WWF International, said: “Although we saw much welcome support for a target on gender equality here in Nairobi, it feels like little to no progress has been made in key areas such as action on the drivers of biodiversity loss, finance, and the inclusion of a strong implementation mechanism. A target of halving the footprint of production and consumption by 2030 is essential, but is being held hostage by a small number of blockers more interested in defending short-term vested interests.

“For an ambitious global biodiversity agreement that can deliver a nature-positive future for all life on Earth, it will now be vital that the Presidency and all countries work to find solutions ahead of COP15.”

With the talks in Nairobi witnessing a weakening of language on aligning financial flows to support rather than harm nature, and countries failing to find compromises to bridge the biodiversity financing gap, WWF stresses that finance remains the key sticking point in the negotiations. An increase in financial resources from all sources, especially international biodiversity finance, is essential to implement the framework.  WWF emphasizes that engagement at the necessary higher political level will be essential to unblock this key issue.

Notes to Editors:
For further information, and to arrange interviews with WWF experts, contact: news@wwfint.org
  • The fourth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG4) on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework took place at UNON, Nairobi, from 21-26 June. Further details on the meet, including the agenda, can be found here
  • At the start of OEWG4, UN CBD announced that the COP15 UN biodiversity conference will take place in Montreal, Canada - 5-17 December. WWF reaction here.
  • A target on gender equality is essential within the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. WWF highlights that women are on the frontline of the nature crisis, and key agents for change. Their role and leadership must be recognized and valued in all policy and decision-making processes related to biodiversity.
  • *Drivers linked to food production cause 70% of terrestrial biodiversity loss, WWF 2021. Farming with Biodiversity. Towards nature-positive production at scale. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland.
About WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources; follow us on Twitter @WWF_media