COP15 must deliver an ambitious, inclusive and financed agreement for nature and climate
By High-Level Champion for Climate Action for COP27, Mahmoud Mohieldin & Manuel Pulgar Vidal, CBD Action Agenda Champion for Nature and People & Global Leader, Climate and Energy | December 17, 2022
We stand no chance of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C without action that protects and restores nature. Our health, livelihoods and wellbeing depend on it. Which is why – as we reach the final stretch of COP15 – we call on Parties to seize this unprecedented opportunity to support a robust agreement to stem and reverse nature loss that will send a catalysing signal to the rest of society.
Despite the UN conferences for Climate and Biodiversity being held in different countries, weeks apart, the two are inextricably linked. Crudely put, what comes out of COP15 will dictate the success of both the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
As we witness the breakdown of our climate and natural world, it is critical both Parties and non-State actors examine the crises through one lens. As our forests, oceans and other natural ecosystems lose their ability to sustain themselves, so does their ability to provide for us, to protect us from climate shocks and absorb the carbon we continue to emit at dangerous levels.
Nature provides up to one-third of the emissions reductions needed to limit the average rise in temperatures to 1.5C. It also helps build resilience to the changing climate, with estimates that about half of all climate-resilient infrastructure that the world will need can be developed with nature-based solutions (NBS) such as restoring mangroves, which can support livelihoods, help tackle erosion and flood risks.
Inaction to protect, restore and regenerate nature also makes little financial sense. Half of the world’s GDP is dependent on nature thriving and biodiversity loss costs the economy 10% of its output each year.
A nature positive world – where species and ecosystems are regenerating – can create almost 400 million jobs and provide an annual business value of over US $10 trillion by 2030. And yet, the conservation, management, and restoration of nature is consistently undervalued and consequently underfunded. The Global Biodiversity Framework will require a financial architecture that ensures robust financial flows with efficient investment channels promoting transformational finance and access to the most vulnerable and those leading conservation of the global commons.
The UN has estimated that investment in NbS needs to double by 2025, triple by 2030 and quadruple by 2050, while ensuring finance reaches communities on the ground.
To close the nature finance gap, we need to unlock capital and see the private sector, with its large pools of finance, help scale up support from multilateral development banks and other development finance institutions.
We also need investors to value nature; trillions of dollars must shift from financing nature-depleting activities towards financing conservation, restoration and management activities. Commodity driven deforestation, for example, must be addressed as soon as 2025 and be reversed within a decade.
There are signals of change all around us, which should give regulators and policymakers the courage to go further faster to protect nature. Over 35 financial institutions with more than US $8.9 trillion in assets under management have made significant progress to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven deforestation risks in their investment and lending portfolios and increase investments in NbS by 2025.
At COP27, governments and non-State actors agreed to the target of securing the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves by 2030, and the need to mobilise USD $4 billion as part of the Mangrove Breakthrough and investors and governments have secured over $1 billion for the restoration of degraded lands in Africa through AFR100. Encouragingly, 330 business and financial institutions from 52 countries with combined revenues of more than $1.5 trillion, have urged world leaders at COP15 to adopt mandatory assessment and disclosure of nature impacts and dependencies which will accelerate action and accountability
While this is welcome progress, we know we have our work cut out. An evaluation of NbS commitments made from 2019 to 2022 found 45% show only small signs of progress, or no progress at all. To fastrack our work, COP15 must also deliver an extension of the mandate of the Sharm-Kumming Action Agenda that can promote non-State actor involvement that supports an equitable and just future that regenerates nature by 2030 whilst ensuring Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) rights.
Now more than ever, with geopolitical and financial uncertainty on the rise, it is in everyone’s best interests to act decisively. Parties at COP15 must come together to deliver a robust Global Biodiversity Framework with its own biodiversity action agenda to facilitate collaboration of non-state actors for its success. Doing so will send the signal to the rest of society that governments are serious about delivering their commitments. Moreover, it can signpoint an era of strengthened collaboration between both the UNFCCC’s and Convention on Biological Diversity’s agendas to further accelerate action and promote synergies amongst existing and new initiatives.
As Champions for both biodiversity and climate, we know how important the role of the non-state actors will be in delivering this Framework and accelerating the transition to a resilient, equitable, net zero and nature-positive world that enables all of its living beings to thrive.