After developing country walkout, ministers arrive to rescue nature talks
As the UN biodiversity negotiations in Montreal enter their final stages, government ministers arrive today to resolve tensions over how much funding will go to developing countries.
At around 1am on Wednesday, more than 60 developing countries including India, Indonesia and all African countries walked out of the negotiations on finance. They claimed there was a lack of commitment from developed countries to fund efforts to protect nature.
“We feel that resource mobilization has been left behind,” one delegate who walked out told CTV News. “It’s everyone’s problem, but we are not equally responsible for the drivers that have led to the destruction of biodiversity”.
Rising tensions have put talks “on the edge of a full breakdown”, WWF campaigner Innocent Maloba said. So ministers will have to rescue a last-minute agreement before the talks end on Monday.
During the high-level plenary, which marks the last part of the negotiations, hosts Canada said they were “ready to engage on discussions on the scale of funding” needed to achieve a successful agreement.
“Many of you have made it clear that ambition must be supported by an increase in funding, as well as improvements in the predictibility, transparency, comprehensiveness and accesibility of funding,” said the country’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault.
China is co-hosting the talks, which were originally supposed to be in the city of Kunming. Their government was less specific about the actions needed. The country has organized crisis talks to unlock negotiations, but tensions remain
During the plenary, the country’s president Xi Jinping, sent a video message urging countries to “push forward the global process of biodiversity protection, turn ambitions into action” and “support developing countries in capacity building”.
The #COP15HighLevelSegment has kicked off!
Xi Jinping, President of delivered a video message to #COP15 @Csaba_Korosi_ president of @UNGA, @AminaJMohammed DSG @UN, @s_guilbeault Minister of @environmentca, Mr. Wang Xiangxiang, @francoislegault, & @mremae delivered remarks pic.twitter.com/EyOrGlC9MF
— UN Biodiversity (@UNBiodiversity) December 15, 2022
Countries are negotiating a 10 year plan to reverse nature destruction during the next decade. A 2017 study shows that immediate action is needed to halt the current mass extinction event, which threatens essential ecosystem services for humanity.
To achieve this, finance “is critical”, but negotiations around it have stalled and they currently have more issues up for debate than other sections of the text, observers said.
“As in prior cops for both climate and biodiversity, the hardest parts get left to the very end,” said Mark Opel, Finance Lead for the observer NGO Campaign for Nature.
Where is the money?
The world needs to mobilize around $700 billion per year to reverse the destruction of nature, says a 2019 a report by The Nature Conservancy, the Paulson Institute and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability estimated.
The current draft of Montreal’s ‘nature pact’ proposes $200 billion in direct funding and $500 billion by eliminating and redirecting nature-destructing subsidies, such as those funding overfishing, monocultures and fossil fuel expansions.
Brazil and African countries have also pushed a proposal to create a new fund for biodiversity separate from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which is the UN’s current financial mechanism for nature.
One Latin American negotiator told Climate Home many developing countries have faced difficulties accessing GEF funds.
Developed countries want to strengthen GEF funding instead of creating a new fund.
Developed countries want to mention other sources of finance other than government funding. “We need to unlock private and philanthropic support, development bank modernisation and subsidies realignment,” said Guilbeault.
Realigning subsidies plays an important role in getting new funds for biodiversity but negotiations around this topic have also proved difficult. Currently, the world spends around $1.1 trillion per year subdisising nature-harming activities.
Maloba said funds from developed countries will be crucial for a successful outcome in Montreal. “It is particularly concerning that donor countries don’t look to be ready to step up on international biodiversity finance, despite some welcome commitments in the lead in,” Maloba said.
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