Biodiversity at breaking point

Safeguarding the natural world to feed a rising population and offset climate disaster


Experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are joining representatives from 196 countries in Montréal, Canada for this year’s UN biodiversity summit to call for a more proactive approach to halt the ongoing loss of the natural world.

The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is hosted by Canada under the Presidency of the People's Republic of China, will run from the 7–19 of December.

COP15 aims to adopt a global plan – the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – to restore, conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. 

“Ecosystems are being pushed beyond breaking point. The adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Framework that strengthens the transformation of agrifood systems is essential for food security, tackling climate challenges and sustainable economic growth, for prosperity, well-being and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo.

At November’s COP27 on climate change in Egypt, governments acknowledged that the climate and biodiversity loss crises are intrinsically linked. 

The Rio Earth Summit in 1992 marked a major landmark for international environmental action. The CBD was born there, alongside the UN climate and desertification conventions.

Yet the 2011-2020 targets that had been agreed on have not been fully met and people and planet are paying the price with the depletion of rich resources and species continue to fall into fast and irreversible decline. 

The science is clear: sustainable forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, crop, and livestock production are part of the solution for a pact to preserve nature.

Biodiversity is a fundamental component for healthy food production as it helps to regulate soils and plants that attract pollinators while purifying water and performing other vital ecosystem services.

Unpacking the importance of COP15 to bolster biodiversity

FAO has adopted a strategy on biodiversity to accelerate efforts to promote sustainable agricultural practices and to limit the detrimental impacts they can have across the food chain. 

FAO’s mission at COP15 is to stress the pivotal role played by agriculture in building sustainable food security and nutrition: “reversing the decline in biodiversity and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals hinges on the transformation of agrifood systems,” explained Senior Natural Resources Officer, Frédéric Castell.

Utilizing existing tools and developing innovative solutions for agrifood systems will be critical to the success of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. 

Twenty-two targets are being negotiated on in Canada, including restoring degraded ecosystems, reducing the rate of introduction of invasive species, cutting the use of pesticides, and eliminating plastic waste.

World leaders only negotiate biodiversity objectives once a decade and governments will need to endorse those for the 2020s at this month’s top-level meeting. 

As the world’s population hit eight billion last month, stopping the planet from plunging further into perilous terrain has never held greater importance.

For further details on FAO’s work see: