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Podcast: At COP 15, biodiversity finance, Indigenous rights, and corporate influence

  • Mongabay editor Latoya Abulu joins the Mongabay Newscast to discuss her visit to the United Nations conference on biodiversity in Montreal that occurred in December 2022.
  • Latoya shares the details on the landmark Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework, which nearly 200 nations agreed to, toward halting and reversing global biodiversity loss by 2030.
  • While the historic agreement has been lauded as a victory, particularly for its inclusion of the acknowledgment of Indigenous rights, biodiversity experts, advocates and Indigenous leaders alike have reservations.
  • Latoya speaks about all this as well as corporate influence over the final text, such as the inclusion of “biodiversity credits,” which also raise some concerns.

In December, the UN Biodiversity Conference concluded with a historic commitment agreed to by nearly 200 nations, the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework (GBF), a commitment that aims to halt and reverse global biodiversity loss by 2030. Including 23 targets and four goals, the framework is lauded by experts, Indigenous leaders, and scientists alike, but with some key reservations.

Here to discuss them on the podcast is Montreal-based Mongabay editor Latoya Abulu, who shares what happened as well as the concerns and questions that many still have.

Listen here:

Along with Mongabay-India editor Sahana Ghosh, Latoya gathered the viewpoints of delegates at the conference, who said that while the agreement is a landmark, it may not be enough to achieve global climate mitigation goals. Indigenous leaders voiced their approval of the recognition of their rights in the GBF, but say that the lack of numerical targets to hit the reduction of the extinction of species, reductions in the use of pesticides, and other targets are concerning.

Protest action against corporate involvement and lobbying at COP15. Image by ETC Group.

Among those concerns cited are the lack of legal consequences for corporations for environmentally harmful business practices, and the inclusion of “biodiversity credits” in the text, which are aimed at offsetting biodiversity damage. Latoya explains why this is troubling to experts, who say that biodiversity loss, unlike carbon emissions, cannot be offset with credits.

COP 15 President Huang Runqiu at the COP15 closing plenary in Montreal. Image by UN biodiversity via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
COP 15 President Huang Runqiu at the COP15 closing plenary in Montreal. Image by UN biodiversity via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The agreement to protect 30% of terrestrial and marine areas (known as “30×30”) was also part of the goals of the GBF. While Indigenous leaders celebrated the inclusion of their rights in the text of this agreement, they expressed concern over the generalization of these rights since 10,000 traditional and Indigenous nations exist on the planet, each with its unique social contexts. Indigenous NGOs argued that over 30% of the Earth is already protected when accounting for Indigenous territories and protected areas that currently exist, therefore the proposed target isn’t ambitious enough.

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Banner image: The Spix’s macaw is one of the rarest birds in the world: it is estimated that there are only 177 captive individuals in the world. The species was declared extinct in the wild in 2000. Image by the ACTP.

Mike DiGirolamo is Mongabay’s audience engagement associate. Find him on Twitter @MikeDiGirolamo, Instagram or TikTok and Mastodon.

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