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COP15 - "best and last chance" to halt and reverse the decline of nature

Vicki Woolven

15th December 2022

Currently COP15 (the UN's biodiversity conference) is taking place in Montreal - it hasn't dominated the news like its climate change counterpart but it hugely important with countries trying to agree a landmark deal to safeguard nature.

The Head of Natural England, Tony Juniper, has stated that the UN biodiversity summit is the "best and last chance" to halt and reverse the decline of nature and that countries must come together and agree an ambitious plan - "This isn't just about saving rare species... It's about sustaining the web of life upon which humankind ultimately depends, for food, water, health and climate regulation."

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pleaded with delegates to "stop the orgy of destruction" which has put a million species at risk of extinction, and stated that "It's time to forge a peace pact with nature."

Some of the key ambitions for the biodiversity summit include:

  • Turning 30% of the Earth's lands and seas into protected areas by 2030
  • Ensuring that, by 2050, a "shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled"
  • Eliminating billions of dollars of environmentally-damaging government subsidies and restoring degraded ecosystems.

The UK government has committed to the goal of protecting 30% of land and sea by 2030, however according to the WWF little progress has been made so far, with just 3% of land and 8% of the sea effectively protected by 2022.

The lack of coverage in the media over this conference is concerning - but then COP27 didn't receive as much media attention as it should have - and of course climate change and biodiversity go hand in hand, so why are we holding separate conferences for them - if we don't act on climate change we will see huge losses in biodiversity (both flora and fauna), and if we allow species to become extinct then it will be harder to fight climate change!

This week it was announced that the GCSE in Natural History has been approved to start teaching in 2025. For those of you planning to offer this qualification to your students, biodiversity will be a key part of the specification so it's time for us geographers to start paying even more attention to issues within the natural environment and reading up on reports from COP biodiversity summits and organisations like the WWF (see their most recent Living Planet report here -

Here is a link to the blog written about the 2022 Living Planet Report -

Here is a good overview of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for those of you not familiar with it -

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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