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UN Summit Adopts Wildlife Conservation Deal But Possible If Countries Fund It

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At the UN summit in Montreal, a new conservation approach has been put into effect to control the decline in nature. But it is only possible if affluent nations put forth sufficient funding and if all countries take conservation seriously.

The agreement, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, deals with the prevention of species extinction, conserving 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030, and arrangement of $200 billion for conversation every year

Conservationists said the deal equaled a Paris Agreement for nature in containing 23 specific targets with which countries can estimate their progress.

Marco Lambertini, director-general of World Wildlife Fund International said, “This is equivalent to the 1.5 degrees Celsius global goal for climate”.

The targets of “The COP15” summit in Montreal took four years of discussion to land on a conclusion, during which nations agreed to consider nature rather than economic development and industrial competition.

The UN estimates that currently there are about 1 million species threatened with extinction. 

Conservation experts expressed to Reuters that executing 23 targets is not an easy task and requires strengthened political will and an inclination to sacrifice the world’s prominent real estate to nature. 

Nick Isaac, a macro ecologist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said, “What matters is how these goals and targets are translated into national plans.”

The developing countries will be dependent on funding to boost conservation and pay for its expenses.

“The key will be on developed countries delivering early on finance commitments,” said a negotiator from a Latin country.

Possible Hurdles

While the deal focuses on conserving 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030, it will depend on the areas for conservation and what is to be protected. None is stated in the deal, and it is for the countries to decide how they choose to act upon it.

Scientists and conservation groups have encouraged countries to protect land and sea areas rich in species, but it is these areas that are also troubled with population and work as it offers pleasant weather and an abundance of water and greenery.

Alexander Antonelli, director of science at Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said, “The choice of which regions to protect areas must be based on the best available data and methodology. Otherwise, there is a big risk that the cheapest areas are protected rather than those that matter most for biodiversity.”

Experts said, “What countries consider as protected also matters.”

Delegates raised questions as to whether the conserved areas should restrict human settlement and development or if resource extraction is allowed if executed sustainably. The deal has yet to answer this. 

Some countries have begun protecting species-rich areas. China has restricted any development in about a third of its land areas. Canada, one of the world’s largest nations, is stretching their protected land and sea areas in the Arctic.

Later this month, the US Congress is said to pass legislation to donate $1.4 billion to the annual fund for conservation in the US states.

The ministers throughout the two-week COP15 summit fixated that any conservation measure must be met with cash. While the deal asked to mobilize $200 billion per year by 2030- with developed nations providing $30 billion, the funds coming from the developed nations are below the estimated $100 billion.

Without monetary help, developing and poor nations informed they would not be able to carry out conservation ambitions on their land and sea areas.

Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the non-profit Campaign for Nature said, “Safeguarding the Amazon, the Congo Basin Forest, peatlands mangroves and reefs globally will require some major increases in funding.”

He also said, “Political leaders are just beginning to recognize how big a priority biodiversity should be on their agendas and their budgets.”

The COP15 summit brought the three biggest rainforest nations – Brazil, Congo, and Indonesia – to work together to conclude the deal in the last hours. Last month, these countries declared a new agreement to work on forest conservation. 

Anders Haug Larsen of Rainforest Foundation Norway said, “Such an alliance holds great potential”. He said, “With the agreement giving priority to the most biodiversity–rich areas, implicitly rainforest protection will be at the core of its implementation.”

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