24 May 2022
Today (24.05.2022) in the UK Parliament, around 50 MPs and Peers from all parties pledged to “stand up for a nature-positive world” by urging and supporting the UK Government to take a strong leadership role at the upcoming UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 summit. The conference is to be hosted later this year under the Chinese Presidency to agree on a new global framework to save nature.
Awareness is growing about the biodiversity crisis that conservationists and scientists have been working hard to halt for decades. Scientists are warning of a sixth mass extinction, this time driven by human activity. But action has been slow. Especially by world leaders. Today, ten environmental NGOs (Marine Conservation Society, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, RSPB, Soil Association, Wildlife and Countryside Link, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, WWF-UK, Zero Hour (CEE Bill campaign), and Green Alliance, held a Westminster reception, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Environment, to urge the UK Government to lead this global effort.
Around 50 MPs and Peers gathered and pledged to support an ambitious outcome at COP15. They promised to take action to halt and begin to reverse nature’s decline by 2030, telling their constituents that they would “stand up for a nature positive world”. The leading environmental charities and campaigners want COP15 outcomes to translate into effective domestic policy which will lead to real action on nature loss at home and overseas.
It is estimated that 77% of the world's land and 87% of the oceans have been altered by humans, leading to a loss of 83% of wild mammal biomass and half of the world’s plant biomass. The Aichi biodiversity targets set in 2010 under the CBD have largely been missed, and nature continues to decline, with more than 1 in 5 species globally at risk of extinction. COP15 is the final chance to agree on action to tackle the global biodiversity crisis: action is needed now.
Chris Skidmore MP, Environment APPG chair, said:
“Parliamentarians from all parties, and their constituents, want to protect and restore the natural environment. The United Kingdom must do all it can to ensure COP15 is seen as a globally important moment for nature and show leadership on this issue, including by accelerating the shift to a nature positive world.”
Lord Goldsmith, Minister for the International Environment—with responsibility for COP15—told Parliamentarians:
“We have an opportunity this year to build on the momentum of COP26 and make this the moment we put nature on a path to recovery. But it will require a lot of heavy lifting internationally, particularly in relation to finance for nature and targets to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and sea by the end of the decade, and the UK will do all we can to raise ambition globally in the run up to and at the UN Biodiversity Summit, COP15, later this year.”
Caroline Lucas MP, who is leading a COP15 debate in the UK Parliament, said:
“The climate and nature emergencies are two sides of the same coin, demanding an urgent and joined-up strategy. COP15 is our best chance to galvanise international action - to work towards a nature-positive economy, and protect and restore biodiversity for future generations to come. Our window of opportunity is rapidly closing - we need to seize it.”
Alex Sobel MP, Shadow Environment Minister, said:
“We must use COP15 to challenge other countries to reinvigorate their COP26 commitments and actions on the climate and nature emergency. Using it to highlight the importance of nature-based solutions for climate and nature, and how they can serve social justice. Like the Colombian landscape-scale rainforest project, absorbing carbon, restoring nature and providing a sustainable living for local people.”
Research has shown time and again that human prosperity and wellbeing are intrinsically tied to a nature-rich planet. The negotiations at COP15 must therefore agree a strong and binding post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that not only aims to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030 but also embeds concrete and ambitious commitments that will reverse it, backed up by the means and mechanisms for implementation.
The UK must use its international influence to secure such an ambitious new framework for biodiversity at COP15 and support a nature positive goal for 2030—at both an international and domestic level.
Notes to editors
- About Environment APPG: The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Environment is a group over 100 hundred cross party parliamentarians working to promote environmental ambition across Parliament. The group is Chaired by former energy Minister, Chris Skidmore MP.
- About Green Alliance: Green Alliance is an independent think tank and charity focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. Since 1979, we have been working with the most influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to accelerate political action and create transformative policy for a green and prosperous UK.
- About Marine Conservation Society:The Marine Conservation Society is the UK’s leading marine charity and fights for the future of our ocean through people-powered action – with science on our side. We defend habitats and species, with communities, businesses and governments. Together, we work towards a cleaner, better-protected, healthier ocean. For seas full of life, where nature flourishes and people thrive.
- About Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
- About Soil Association: The Soil Association is a charity working to transform the way we eat, farm, and care for our natural world. We do this to support a future with good health, in balance with nature, and a safe climate. We build real solutions from the ground up. For the last 75 years, we've worked with citizens, farmers, policy makers and businesses, supporting them to explore the vital relationship between the health of soil, plants, animals and people. Food, farming and forestry are a vital part of the solution. Soil Association
- About The Wildlife Trusts: The Wildlife Trusts are making the world wilder and helping to ensure that nature is part of everyone’s lives. We are a grassroots movement of 46 charities with more than 870,000 members and 38,000 volunteers. No matter where you are in the UK, there is a Wildlife Trust inspiring people and saving, protecting and standing up for the natural world. With the support of our members, we care for and restore special places for nature on land and run marine conservation projects and collect vital data on the state of our seas. Every Wildlife Trust works within its local community to inspire people to create a wilder future – from advising thousands of landowners on how to manage their land to benefit wildlife, to connecting hundreds of thousands of school children with nature every year. www.wildlifetrusts.org
- About WWF: WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. Our supporters - more than five million of them - are helping us to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature’s decline, particularly the food system and climate change. We’re fighting to ensure a world with thriving habitats and species, and to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planets resources.
- About People’s Trust for Endangered Species: PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats - such as hazel dormice, water voles and traditional orchards - and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events.
- About Wildlife and Countryside Link: Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 65 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. Our members campaign to conserve, enhance and access our landscapes, animals, plants, habitats, rivers and seas. Together we have the support of over eight million people in the UK and directly protect over 750,000 hectares of land and 800 miles of coastline.
- About the Woodland Trust: The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. The Trust has three key aims (1) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, (2) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, and (3) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.
- About Zero Hour: Zero Hour is the cross-party campaign calling for new, strong, science-led environmental legislation—the Climate and Ecology Bill (also known as the CEE Bill)—to deliver a just transition that ensures that (1) nature is on the path to recovery by 2030 and (2) UK emissions reduce in line with limiting global warming to 1.5C. Learn more at ceebill.uk
The following outcomes are needed for CBD COP15 to be a success:
- For COP15 to happen as soon as possible— in late summer 2022—with nations working together meanwhile to create solutions, overcome blockages, and avoid further delays.
- For COP15 to be seen as a globally important moment for nature. This requires ambitious countries, especially the UK, to raise the profile of the CBD and post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the highest political levels. The Prime Minister pledging to participate in COP15 and announcing new, significant commitments there would help to achieve this.
- For countries to agree the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which includes ambitious 2030 goals for the recovery of species and habitats, including to prevent extinctions and retain and restore habitat quality and extent. This should come alongside robust 2030 action targets to tackle the drivers of biodiversity loss, including climate change and pollution from all sources. All this must be underpinned by transparent monitoring and reporting and a commitment to embed policy across government.
- For sufficient finance to be mobilised for biodiversity and resources committed to implementing the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework ahead of COP15. Countries must commit money ahead of COP15, redirect incentives that are harmful to biodiversity towards nature-positive activities and investments, and demonstrate existing good practice.
- For the UK to show leadership. As President of UNFCCC COP26, building on the G7 nature compact, and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, the UK should ensure that the progress and momentum for nature is used to drive ambition at COP15. The UK should also demonstrate genuine global leadership with tangible actions for nature across all four nations.
Links for more information
- Why do we need COP15 to happen now? We can’t afford to wait any longer to agree our global framework and take action. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, COP15 was delayed from 2020 and we are currently without a global framework for biodiversity. Experts estimate that we are losing species at 1,000 times the natural rate. Examples of current UK-relevant challenges include:
- invasive, non-native species, like the American mink, are wreaking havoc on native plants and animals such as water voles, Britain’s fastest declining mammal
- wildlife trafficking of endangered species on social media platforms threatens to push already critical species such as pangolins and pygmy marmosets to the brink
- consumption of products, such as coffee, in wealthy countries is driving extinction of species in poorer countries far away—c. 30% of the global extinction-risk footprint is embedded in international trade.
- What difference will this make to local wildlife? Although the conference is happening thousands of miles away, decisions made will affect the wildlife you love right here in the UK. By signing up to the targets, the UK Government will be making a commitment to protect nature on a national, regional and local level. This will influence everything from changing how we farm, working with nature to create better flood defences and improving water quality for our fish, frogs and water voles.
- How many species are at risk? According to the UN, one million species globally face extinction—and the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 revealed that populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have fallen by 68%, on average, since 1970. In the latest Birds of Conservation Concern for the UK, the swift, house martin and greenfinch, once common species, all moved onto the ‘red list’ because of population declines, joining other well-known birds such as puffins and cuckoos. Research by the Natural History Museum revealed that the UK only has half of its natural biodiversity left.
- How does nature contribute to prosperity? We must protect and restore nature for its intrinsic value, but nature delivers specific outcomes that we can directly benefit from. The flagship Dasgupta Review and a 2021 study by the University of Cambridge found that nature provides numerous benefits to our economies and societies. Cambridge Econometrics
research found that for every £1 invested in peatlands, the UK will receive more than £4 in returns.
- What came out of the CBD Geneva negotiation session? In March 2022, countries gathered in Geneva to progress discussions on the development of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and its implementation. This was the first in-person CBD meeting in two years, with an extremely packed and complex agenda. Despite negotiations stretching into the night for two weeks, and some positive steps forward, there is still a yawning gap between the ambitious deal we need to secure a nature positive world and the current text on the table. Overall, progress was insufficient to set us up for a successful outcome at COP15 in Kunming and extra intersessional work has been scheduled, including a meeting in Nairobi, between 21-26 June.