UN biodiversity summit has the chance to seize a moment

The explosion of interest in biodiversity since 2020 from corporates and investors through to governments and industry bodies has been huge. Can the summit capture a moment that is two years in the making?

As the second half of the year gets under way, now seems like an appropriate time to look ahead to one of two UN COP events taking place in Q4.

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) will take place in Egypt on 7-18 November, but it is the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) held on 5-17 December in Montreal, Canada, that is more hotly anticipated.

There are a few reasons for the heightened sense of expectation around the biodiversity conference.

For a start, it is two years overdue. The event was initially due to be held in October 2020 in Kunming, China, but was delayed repeatedly due to the covid-19 pandemic, and was subsequently broken up into a two-part conference.

The first installation was held as a virtual and in-person event in Kunming in October 2021, where more than 100 countries signed the Kunming Declaration to reaffirm their commitment to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The framework is the central peg to realising the Convention on Biological Diversity’s ultimate 2050 vision of a world “living in harmony with nature”.

Another reason the event is keenly anticipated is the explosion of interest in biodiversity from the corporate and investment worlds since 2020, alongside the development of, and interest in, regulatory frameworks that are seeking to establish the rulebook for measuring, reporting and enhancing biodiversity.

In September 2020, New Forests was among 26 signatories to the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, including the likes of AXA Group and HSBC Asset Management and which has since grown to have 98 signatories who collectively have more than €14 trillion in assets under management.

New Forests director of sustainability and communication MaryKate Bullen told affiliate title Agri Investor: “By joining this pledge, we hope we can lead from the forestry and land use perspective – where we have a clear and deep understanding of biodiversity issues – and showcase how investors can assess impacts, set targets and disclose impacts.”

And on the policy front, the EU, national governments and industry bodies such as the Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials have all been busy making headway on the regulatory landscape over the last two years.

Much of the preliminary work for these announcements predates 2020, but the pandemic certainly acted to give a shot in the arm to the global agenda of safeguarding and enhancing biodiversity across the world.

It is hoped this will all come to a head at the UN Biodiversity Conference in December – provided heads of state are not too distracted by the simultaneously timed World Cup – and real progress can be made towards an internationally agreed upon roadmap for protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

The big question is, can the event rise to the occasion or will it go down as a missed opportunity?