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What we are hoping will come out of COP15

As the United Nations biodiversity conference (known as COP15) convenes in Montreal this month, we will be watching closely.

COP15 (short for Conference of the Parties), from 7 to 19 December, will bring governments from around the world together to agree on a new set of goals and targets that will guide global action on nature through to 2030.

WWF South Africa supports our network call to secure a transformative global biodiversity framework to address the biodiversity crisis and save our life support systems. This framework is being billed as a ‘Paris-style’ agreement for nature.

The network has identified several areas where world leaders must ratchet up ambition and galvanise transformative action to secure a nature positive world by 2030. These include:

  • Conserving at least 30% of land, freshwater and oceans and restore degraded ecosystems globally by 2030
  • A commitment to halve the world’s footprint of production and consumption by 2030
  • A comprehensive resource mobilisation strategy to finance implementation of the framework
  • A strong implementation mechanism which reviews and increases action over time
  • A rights-based and whole-of-society approach
  • The inclusion of nature-based solutions alongside ecosystem-based approaches to deliver benefits for people and nature

Similar to the Paris climate agreement, the new global biodiversity framework will require parties to begin immediate implementation by setting national targets and updating National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).

To this end, WWF South Africa has stated a preferred national outcome to “measurably address biodiversity loss by 2030”.

At a high level this incorporates meeting specific targets to conserve habitats and species in terrestrial and marine environments and restore degraded landscapes in line with South Africa’s National Protected Area Expansion Strategy. WWF South Africa commits to working with all tiers of government and other partners to catalyse expanded conservation areas on land and sea.

We also support the implementation of regenerative production practices in the context of priority biomes/seascapes (including addressing over-consumption threats to species of concern).

We recognise that enabling financial mechanisms for all the above is essential, and work towards developing a funding portfolio as a proactive measure to attract large funding investments across all priority areas.

We will continue to facilitate the ongoing use of private sector funding in collaboration with public sector to develop and explore a model for ‘debt for nature’ payments. It is also important that we develop innovative funding mechanisms, including investments instruments (such as bonds) and landscape-scale funding approaches.

WWF South Africa fully endorses nature-based solutions, as outlined in the framework, seeking to implement these through existing and future programmes of work, including wetland rehabilitation, invasive alien plant control, avoiding degradation, and sustainable grazing.

We also support an ecosystem-based approach and advocate for effective, adaptive, ecosystem-based spatial plans and strategic environmental assessments to ensure human activities do not have negative impacts on priority spaces and places containing life sustaining and sensitive habitats, threatened species and / or important ecological processes.

We see the relationship between respect for human rights and the promotion of healthy ecosystems to be mutually inclusive and embrace the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Many South African communities directly depend on nature for day-to-day survival. It therefore makes sense to nurture sustainable practices and enable the rights of local communities to sustain their harmonious practices of living with nature.

Approaches to protect and sustain biodiversity are not limited to one sector but require a multi-layered strategy. This includes state and non-state actors, a value driven narrative that connects nature, the economy, human wellbeing, clear approaches to entrenching the values of biodiversity, the need to restore ecosystems on which all human survival depends and the reduction of negative impacts.

These challenges, solutions and gains must be embraced by everyone in society. We therefore endorse the framework’s “whole-of-society” approach as we strive to realise our vision of a future where people and nature thrive.

© Martin Harvey/ WWF
World leaders must ratchet up ambition for a nature positive future.

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