COP15: Historic global biodiversity agreement reached to protect 30% of world's lands and oceans

A Golden Lion Tamarin holds on to a tree in the Atlantic Forest region of Silva Jardim in Rio de Janeiro. Credit: AP

Lionel Messi may be celebrating an historic win but arguably the bigger win in the last 24 hours is a global agreement to “turn the tide on nature destruction”.

After what has been described as a “fractious” two weeks of negotiations at the COP15 UN summit in Montreal, Canada, a deal was struck to protect the world's lands and oceans in the early hours.

UK Government Minister Lord Goldsmith called it “a huge, historic moment”. His brief includes the Environment, Climate and Forests and he says it creates “a global commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030”.

The Global Biodiversity Framework has set a deadline of 2030 to achieve its goals.

These include protecting “30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters” and reducing by $500 billion "annual harmful government subsidies”, as well as cutting food waste in half.

The historic deal was reached at the UN summit in Montreal on Monday. Credit: AP

But lofty goals and ambitions are nothing without monitoring.

As ITV News has reported previously, approximately 40% of British waters are protected but campaigners argue they are little more than “paper parks” with barely any actual policing to ensure they are protected.

The COP15 deal aims to ensure that when a location is designated as protected it truly is. The agreement "obligates countries to monitor and report every five years or less on a large set of 'headline' and other indicators related to progress against the GBF's goals and targets.”

The World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) reaction to the deal comes with a warning.

They recognise the “agreement represents a major milestone for the conservation of our natural world” - but Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, says “it lacks a mechanism that will hold governments accountable to increase action if targets are not met”.

“We must now see immediate implementation of this agreement, no excuses, no delays - nature and all of us who rely on it for our livelihoods, economies and wellbeing have waited long enough, it’s time for nature to thrive again," he adds.

Today the world agreed to up its game and halt the drastic destruction of global biodiversity.

In truth it had little choice. A million species face extinction and if humanity is to survive it needs plants and animals to do it.

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