What does a successful CBD COP15 look like?

6th December 2022

It is not an underestimate to say that we will watch the outcomes of the Montreal COP with both trepidation and hope. The CCI partners have been preparing for this milestone meeting over several years and their teams are now in Canada working to ensure the Global Biodiversity Framework can deliver a world that is nature positive by 2030. We have asked colleagues from some of those institutions to share their hopes for this pivotal meeting.

The decisions made in the next few weeks are about future proofing society. I share the concern of my colleagues that the decisions on the Global Biodiversity Framework are at risk of being neutered by short term vision and compromise. An unsuccessful COP will increase the odds of us passing on a devastated planet characterised by extinctions, shredded ecosystems, chaotic climate, and a deeply impoverished society.

We need ambitious government leadership that is matched by action and significant new funding. While there is little time and a huge amount of work ahead of us, we do know what we need to do. Since 1992, the first meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Earth Summit,  the conservation community has built, tested and improved the tools for rebuilding nature. Most notably our collective skills in species recovery, landscape conservation and restoration have grown in sophistication and practical delivery and, importantly, the underpinning recognition that local communities hold the key for rebuilding nature.

Professor Juliet Vickery CEO of British Trust for Ornithology

We are losing wildlife around the world like never before – in Britain we have doubled the number of breeding bird species on the red list in just 25 years. For me personally, as for so many in the conservation sector, success at COP15 means a genuine commitment to action to reverse this loss, supported by sufficient funding and aligned to measureable targets to ensure countries can be held to account.

As a CEO of an NGO representing partnership between citizen scientists and professional staff that evaluates changes in bird populations in UK my focus is, perhaps inevitably on how we measure change and track progress towards a better future for nature. And how international deals made at COP 15 are matched by our own ambition and commitment to nature.

Birds are invaluable indicators of the state of nature and enhancing their populations will mean changes in how we meet our own needs for food, fuel and housing. Knowing if these changes are (or are not) working, and why, will depend on robust monitoring, evaluation and reporting – the lack of which is partly why we failed to implement the post-2010 Biodiversity Framework and Aichi targets in UK – that needs to change.

So this means all four countries of the UK having robust targets in domestic legislation to halt and begin to reverse the decline of nature by 2030 and supporting monitoring systems to assess progress. The value of this will undoubtedly be maximised through adopting a common approach across all four nations using good quality environmental data to report and track the state of nature. In UK we are blessed with a rich history of citizen science monitoring, that network is ready and waiting to step up to the challenge!


Martin Harper, BirdLife International – More than just one more heave…

Having failed to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010, missing most of the targets set for 2020, the global biodiversity talks at COP15 in Montreal cannot simply be the case of one more heave and assume everything will then be ok.

We need a step change in action to avert a major extinction event which would not only diminish the beauty and wonder of our planet but also erode our own life-support system.

As well as agreeing the right global biodiversity framework, with the right targets, the right funding and right implementation and ratchet mechanism, we also need a shift in mindset.

For the world to become nature-positive by 2030 (by increasing the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, populations, and ecosystems), we need to confront the jeopardy that we face yet be buoyed by the many conservation successes that we have achieved in improving the natural world.  We know how to save species, restore sites and even transform economic system to help us live in harmony with nature (the 2050 goal of the CBD).  And we know that action to protect and restore carbon-rich habitats like forests and peatlands will help us in the fight against climate change.  We just need the political will and resources to scale up our actions.

I want decision-makers leaders not just to turn up, say the right words, go home and move on to the next problem, I want them to be inspired to roll up their sleeves, to say, we have ideas and opportunities to make things better and we are going to help make it happen.

We have called for an unstoppable movement for change and that starts with those in positions of power.

BirdLife International on COP15 – COP15 must mark a ‘Paris moment’ for biodiversity, setting a clear mission and targets to ensure we are nature-positive by 2030, in the way that the Paris Agreement in 2015 became a game-changer for climate. Read more


Christ Sandbrook, University of Cambridge

COP15 in Montreal will be the first time I have ever attended a major conservation convention in person. As a result, from a practical perspective it will feel like a success if I don’t spend my whole time lost and confused about where I should be and who I should be talking to!

More broadly, this is of course an absolutely critical moment for conservation. A lot of my focus will be on Target 3, on area-based conservation. The draft text for this target still includes a thicket of ‘bracketed text’ to be negotiated, including for the so-called 30×30 proposal to increase protected and conserved areas to 30% global coverage by 2030. I am leading a new project that aims to assess the potential social implications of this target, which in my opinion have not been given sufficient attention in the lead up to the CBD COP. Of course my presence won’t change what is agreed, but I hope to speak to some of the key players from parties, NGOs and funders to explore how we can work together constructively to make sure that social issues are taken seriously once the dust has settled and attention turns to implementation.

Catherine Weller, Fauna and Flora International

Put simply, COP15 will be judged on whether a Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is finalised and the level of ambition of its targets. The years to 2030 are critical in the race to reverse the loss of biodiversity; we can’t afford to waste this opportunity.

We need an agreement that recognises the importance of locally led approaches to implementing it, ensuring Indigenous Peoples and local communities are empowered to participate effectively and benefit equitably. We hope to see governments and stakeholders put more emphasis on the value of “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs), which provide a mechanism to support effective biodiversity conservation outside of formal protected areas, and to enable greater recognition and participation of, and benefits to, local people.

Long term success is contingent on the resourcing of the commitments that governments will make, and whether that money gets into the right hands. COP15 must unlock increased public and private investment, and for maximum and lasting impact the new resources need to flow into grassroots implementation. Communities and local organisations have on-the-ground knowledge and are best able to develop solutions for their particular context to tackle the underlying drivers of inequality, climate change, and the degradation of nature.

Read more about what FFI want to see happen at COP15


IUCN will be at the CBD COP15 in Montreal to advocate for a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that sets coherent and ambitious goals and targets to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is expected to adopt a new strategic plan to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity and ensure that by 2050, we live in harmony with nature.

For IUCN, this means protect what we still have, restore degraded ecosystems, and address direct threats to biodiversity to avoid further damage. But also, there is a need to change the way we consume and the way we produce. Making this plan work will need everyone to be involved, not just Parties to the Convention, and we need to allocate sufficient resources – both financial and non-financial. Read more


With the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s existing global targets for biodiversity expiring in 2020, world leaders are planning to adopt a new global biodiversity framework, with new goals, targets and indicators, at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD CoP15).

The current draft of the post-2020 framework sets out an ambitious plan to guide governments in implementing actions—from protected and conserved areas to ending unsustainable exploitation—that will bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity. However, it all remains subject to final negotiations in Montreal. Read more


RSPB: COP15 – now’s the time for action

This December 7th, the global biodiversity conference COP15, offers us the key to changing the story. After two years of delays and a UK Government Attack on Nature, COP15 is a vital opportunity to recover our international reputation as global leaders, and plan for the future of our struggling global wildlife and landscapes. Now, we must defend, recover, and act for nature – before it’s too late.

That’s why we need ambitious targets and real action. We’re calling on Rishi Sunak to kick off a decade of action at COP15 and drive an ambitious global plan. Globally, we must commit to:

  • Halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030
  • Set 2030 goals that will prevent extinctions, recover species populations, and retain and restore habitats
  • Protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030 in a fair and effective way
  • Set 2030 targets that will reduce the negative pressures humans put on nature globally by 50%, including from pollution and the unsustainable use of natural resources
  • Provide the money and resources needed to restore nature, whilst empowering local people and indigenous communities, and holding countries accountable for their actions

Now it’s time for Rishi Sunak and the UK Government to show credible leadership and ambition – not just promises. And we know it’s not always simple to turn pledges into real action, so we’ve put together seven steps for the UK Government to get us there.