‘Paris moment for nature’: United Nations global biodiversity summit to be held in Canada after Covid thwarts China hosting plans

The COP15 global biodiversity summit is set to go ahead this winter in Canada after a two-year postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been announced.

A new world agreement to safeguard nature and halt the loss of species is expected to be adopted at the United Nations conference.

The meeting, which was originally due to be held in China in 2020, has been described as “the Paris moment for nature”.

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COP15, which is under the presidency of China, will now be staged in Montreal from December 5 to 17.

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The new timing and location were confirmed at a meeting of the bureau of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as preliminary international talks take place in Nairobi, Kenya, to advance negotiations on an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework that will set the world on a path to bend the curve on nature loss.

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Originally planned for Kunming, China, in 2020, COP15 was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis and later split into a two-part event.

The first meeting was held in Kunming in October last year.

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The COP15 biodiversity summit -- which has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic -- will be held in Montreal, Canada, instead of China, as planned, the United Nations has announced, as Beijing continues with its strict zero-Covid policy. Picture: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

Chinese minister Huang Runqiu, COP15 president, said: “China would like to emphasise its continued strong commitment, as COP president, to work with all parties and stakeholders to ensure the success of the second part of COP15, including the adoption of an effective post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and to promote its delivery throughout its presidency.”

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UK leaders say negotiations at COP15 will build on momentum from the COP26 summit last year, which led to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use – a commitment by 140 leaders representing 90 per cent of the world’s woodlands to halt and reverse loss of trees and land degradation by 2030.

“Nature is in crisis – we need an ambitious set of targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss globally by 2030,” Lord Zac Goldsmith, the UK’s international environment minister, said.

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“Nature recovery is one of the greatest challenges we face as a global community.

“We must reverse deforestation, protect our landscapes and seas and give them and the species they hold a chance to recover.”

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Lord Goldsmith pledged UK support “to ensure ambitious outcomes are achieved”.

He said: “I look forward to working with my counterparts in China, Canada and throughout the international community to make sure we make this year the Paris moment for nature.”

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Environmentalists have welcomed the announcement, which provides “much-needed certainty” that will allow countries to focus all their efforts on securing an ambitious global deal for nature.

Bernadette Fischler Hooper, head of international advocacy at conservation charity WWF-UK, said: “Governments have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to deliver a Paris-style agreement for nature, like we have for climate, and they must not waste a moment between now and December.

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“This means rallying political will to provide the necessary resources for a deal that halts and reverses the loss of nature by 2030.

“With the date for COP15 set, Government negotiators meeting in Nairobi this week must deliver real progress to allow for success in Montreal – people and the planet cannot afford anything less.”

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