A historic agreement for biodiversity – now it’s time for implementation

Published: 10 Feb 2023
Author: Maria Ana Campos, Stéphanie Paquin-Jaloux, Melissa Miners
Type: Insight

In December 2022, the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) coalition and its members joined the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Montreal, Canada as observers of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. OP2B was part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development delegation on the ground.

This historic Biodiversity COP culminated with the approval of a new global agreement on nature – the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework – a key milestone in raising the nature loss crisis to the same political level as climate change.

OP2B strongly welcomes the agreement, which marks the turning point for nature conservation and restoration. The landmark deal aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and sets targets that provide a clear direction for businesses and financial institutions to rally behind. In the agreement, OP2B identifies critical elements that link to our work and pillars of action, including:

  • Target 3: Ensuring the protection of 30% of land and 30% of water through well-managed conservation programs by 2030. Currently, only 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine areas are protected.
  • Target 7: The agreement ‘s text includes language on reducing pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, including reducing excess nutrients lost to the environment and reducing the overall risk from pesticides by at least half.
  • Target 10: Reference to agroecology, as well as ‘sustainable intensification’ and the productivity of production systems. A mixed outcome for the commitment to sustainably manage areas under productive use.
  • Target 15: The document also provides a clear message to the business community to start assessing and disclosing their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity. This is potentially one of the most transformational elements in the document.
  • Target 16: Another important driver of biodiversity loss, consumption, is also addressed. Many observers regret the lack of ambition in this area of the text, which stipulates the reduction of food waste by 50% and increased use of information campaigns to educate consumers.
  • Target 18: On subsidies, the agreement stipulates that environmentally harmful subsidies must be reduced by 500 billion US$ per year- a significant blow for the agriculture and extractive industries receiving these subsidies and contributing to nature degradation. At the same time, governments are encouraged to increase natural conservation and restoration subsidies.

While this agreement was a critical milestone in addressing the real threats of biodiversity loss, the real work starts now. Governments, businesses, financial institutions, philanthropists, and civil society must work together to ensure the agreement delivers its intended impact.

The OP2B coalition actively engaged throughout the Convention on Biological Diversity process, with a special mention to the policy positions and advocacy efforts throughout the preparatory negotiations that initially started in 2020. OP2B also substantially contributed to the framework’s development, specifically the recognition of “Agroecology” in Target 7 – at its core is the sustainable conservation and protection of biodiversity, in line with OP2B principles of Regenerative Agriculture. For the framework’s Target 18, OP2B was an active partner of Business for Nature campaign to repurpose and reform environmental harmful subsidies.

Additionally, OP2B launched a framework for Restoration Actions during COP15. This framework will help answer the need for harmonization in the ecosystem restoration field by aligning and amplifying action for maximized impact at scale. In 2021 OP2B also launched a Regenerative Agriculture framework which completes the guidance for companies on restoration and regeneration actions. The four foundational principles of Regenerative Agriculture put companies on the right track to decrease the impact and pressures on biodiversity and improve positive contributions by boosting biodiversity in and around farms.

Going forwards, OP2B will continue working with its members and key partners to clarify and advance business contributions toward the critical targets for business included in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. One main area of work will be around subsidies (Target 18). Redirecting and repurposing subsidies is key to unlocking financial support to accelerate the transition to regenerative production practices. We will be deep-diving into this topic in collaboration with the Food & Agriculture Pathway, Business for Nature and the B-Team.

This article is co-authored by:

Maria Ana Campos, Senior Associate, Nature Action, WBCSD

Stéphanie Paquin-Jaloux, ESG Impact Director, Nature at Firmenich

Melissa Miners, Global Sustainability Senior Manager at Unilever

OP2B is a cross-sectorial, action-oriented business coalition on biodiversity with a specific focus on agriculture, working with leading members across sectors to drive transformational systemic change and catalyze action to protect and restore cultivated and natural ecosystems within the value chains

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