WWF: Sense of urgency nowhere to be seen in Montreal as pre-COP15 talks close

Posted on December, 06 2022

Montreal, Canada (6 December 2022) – As three long days of pre-COP15 technical negotiations, often going into the early morning hours, draw to a close, WWF is concerned by the desperately slow progress seen in Montreal on the eve of the long-awaited COP15 UN biodiversity conference.

The meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG-5), running 3-5 December, saw negotiators come from around the world to try to deliver a cleaner, less bracketed draft text of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), ready to form the basis of negotiations at the critical COP15 conference - the world’s once-in-a-decade opportunity to secure an ambitious agreement capable of turning the tide on biodiversity loss.

Despite progress on targets critical to a Rights-based Approach – including on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and the protection of environmental human rights defenders – negotiations stalled when the talks moved to sticky issues – such as the equitable sharing of benefits, and the sectors listed as most harmful to nature.

What we’re seeing is government negotiators have come to Montreal, and are just repeating their fixed positions, showing no signs of compromising and seeking convergence. We can’t keep going round in circles, back and forth and sideways. If we don’t start removing brackets and simplify text, the world will miss the chance to secure an ambitious agreement while nature continues to vanish around us. A sense of urgency is ultimately nowhere to be seen in the negotiation rooms which is deeply frustrating. This is the kind of short-term mindset madness that has got us into this mess,” says Lin Li, Senior Director for Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International.

“We need to see governments refocus their time and efforts on the most critical issues. We need clean, simple options with the ambitions that people and the planet need for ministers when they arrive next week - not a jumbled mess of incomprehensible paragraphs. Alongside all countries showing greater leadership, the role of the Chinese Presidency will be even more important now as we enter into formal negotiations for COP15 – where decisions must be made – we need to see greater ambition but in fewer words, it shouldn’t be this hard!” continues Li.

Negotiators will now be looking towards COP15, set to officially start today (6 December) to resolve some of the bracketed text that still remains. OEWG4 in Nairobi left 1800 brackets in the GBF draft text. At the start of pre-COP15 negotiations, 900 brackets remained in the informal group text*. Over 50 hours of discussions and negotiations later, the tally currently stands at around 1400.


Notes to Editors
For media interviews, please contact Emma Ackerley, Media Relations Manager eackerley@wwfint.org / +44 07570 304 793

WWF International news desk news@wwfint.org 

*1. The first draft of the GBF, is formally the latest full draft of the GBF, as proposed by the cochairs of the OEWG in July 2021. 
 2. Based on this first draft, parties discussed the GBF in OEWG-3 and 4. These discussions resulted in a document that is attached to the OEWG4 report. The report with 1800 brackets.
3. This document, in turn, was used by the informal group meeting in Canada, to produce a shorter text with fewer brackets.
During OEWG5, the decision was taken by parties to take both the OEWG4 report and the shorter text for negotiators to compare between the two during COP15.

WWF considers the below essential ingredients in an ambitious global biodiversity framework:
  • A mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for a nature-positive world
  • A goal to conserve at least 30% of the planet’s land, inland waters and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach
  • A commitment to halve the world’s footprint of production and consumption by 2030
  • A comprehensive resource mobilization strategy to finance implementation of the framework 
  • A strong implementation mechanism which offers reviews and ratchets action over time, in the mold of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with agreed indicators to measure progress
  • A rights-based approach, recognizing the leadership, rights, and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, and a whole of society approach, enabling participation of all sectors of society throughout the implementation of the framework
  • The inclusion of equitable and rights-based Nature-based Solutions alongside ecosystem-based approaches to deliver benefits for people and nature
WWF’s expectations paper for COP15 is available to read here.

WWF light projection at the Palais de Justice (Montreal Courthouse)
From 5-7 December, WWF is showing a spectacular light projection at the Palais de Justice (Montreal Courthouse), 1 Notre Dame East, located behind Montreal city hall in the Old Montreal area. The projection includes a series of graphics of nature and people that aim to heighten people's awareness of the once-in-a-decade opportunity that COP15 brings to secure an ambitious global biodiversity agreement. All are invited to come along, take photographs and utilize in reporting. Projections will run o from 17:00 - 23:00 local time. Insert H2Y 1B6 into GPS devices for exact location. Images and b-roll are available from the 6 December, HERE.

About WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans 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 www.panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.

UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15
Originally signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. There are now 196 Parties to the CBD, which has a 2050 vision to achieve a world that is ‘living in harmony with nature’. Between 3-5 December, an Open-Ended Working Group-5 took place ahead of the 15th of Conference of Parties (COP15) between 7-19 December, both in Montreal, Canada.