COP15: Change business and finance now to stop biodiversity loss

As COP15 kicks off in China, delegates discuss addressing extractionism and embedding indigenous rights

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) has begun in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming and delegates have been told finance and business require big changes to stop biodiversity loss.

At the week-long conference COP15 delegates will be looking at how to help developing nations finance biodiversity among other issues such as outlining actions needed to conserve habitats over the next 10 years.

See also: – ESG Clarity‘s digital magazine on biodiversity

On Monday 11 October, Helena Paul, a representative of the Conference on Biological Diversity Alliance, told delegates drastic action was needed on biodiversity loss drivers.

“Parties must be serious about halting and reversing biodiversity loss and equitably addressing its main drivers such as overconsumption and unsustainable production,” she said.

“The economic logic driving extractionism, including trade and financial rules, inequalities in wealth, high debt and pervasive austerity, perpetuates biodiversity loss and impacts negatively on indigenous peoples and local communities.

“A clear example is the current push for seabed mining that will be ruinous for marine and coastal ecosystems and small fisher folk.”

Paul said the action needed involved stricter regulation of business and finance. “Voluntary commitments with companies claiming self-regulation and self-certification only enable the corporate capture of policymaking and undermine parties’ legally binding obligations.”

She added: “The mainstreaming process currently dominated by business and finance also risks helping those sectors avoid the urgent change required.”

Nature as wealth

Alexandra Moreira, the secretary-general of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, told the conference the Amazonian countries have a different approach to conservation and development due to how important the Amazon rainforest’s biodiversity is to combatting climate change.

She explained ACTO had agreed on instruments that would allow effective management of biodiversity and of the Amazon rainforest.

She noted the need for, “control of illegal deforestation and also the illegal penetration by agro forestry systems which generate a different development model, whereas we understand that the major wealth of the Amazon region is the forest itself.”

Parties also heard from a representative of the Indigenous Information Network who called for recognition of indigenous rights: “We firmly believe that for this [global biodiversity] framework to be successful and inclusive it requires further improvement, for example, the explicit recognition of the lands, territories and waters of indigenous people and local communities.”

UK missing billions for biodiversity

The comments came as a report found between £44bn and £97bn of additional investment will be needed over the next decade for the UK to meet its nature-related ambitions.  

The report from Green Finance Institute, released on the second day of COP15, said public sector funding alone will not allow the UK to meet the nature-related outcomes it is committed to and requires a significant boost from private sector investment.

The Finance Gap for UK Nature report stated the largest outcome-specific funding gaps are for climate mitigation through biocarbon – £20bn over 10 years – and the protection and restoration of biodiversity – £19bn over 10 years.