Nations adopt the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

The global deal aims to reverse biodiversity loss and set our world on the road to recovery


Described as the most important global meeting for the future of our planet this century, the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Montreal, Canada under the presidency of China, concluded on Monday 19 December. Around 18 000 people registered for the conference, including representatives from more than 194 parties to the CBD.

After almost four years of negotiations, including an open-ended working group held at FAO Headquarters in 2020, 23 targets to be achieved by 2030 and four goals to be met by 2050 were agreed on and included in the final text of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

“Biodiversity is the cornerstone of food security and nutrition. The agricultural sectors - crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture - manage the biggest part of ecosystems and are central to around half the targets in the newly-approved Global Biodiversity Framework. Achieving the ambitions and goals of the Framework depends on the active engagement of the food and agriculture sectors,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo who led FAO’s delegation at COP15.

Several decisions are clearly linked to the importance of sustainably managing biodiversity and reducing the negative impacts of the agricultural sectors. New targets were agreed to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation and unsustainable agricultural practices.

The final agreement commits governments to globally conserving 30 percent of land and seas by 2030, including through protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs), as well as concrete measures for the sustainable management and use of biodiversity that recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

While the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework is the main achievement of COP15, 61 other decisions were agreed upon by Parties. One is the adoption of the Plan of Action 2020-2030 for the International Initiative for the conservation and sustainable use of soil biodiversity to be facilitated by FAO and its Global Soil Partnership. Other decisions making specific reference to FAO include those on sustainable wildlife management, indigenous peoples and local communities, invasive alien species, ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, conservation and the sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity, health and cooperation with other conventions and international organizations.

FAO’s presence at COP15

FAO led or co-led twenty five events. The delegation strengthened engagement with stakeholders, partner organizations and countries, advocating for agrifood transformation to provide healthier and more nutritious food while conserving and sustainably using our ecosystems and natural resources.

FAO and UNEP, who co-lead the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, organized ‘Restoration Day’ and celebrated 10 flagship restoration initiatives through a virtual gala that welcomed actors Jason Momoa and Edward Norton, Dr. Jane Goodall, singer Ellie Goulding, FAO Deputy Director-General and UNEP’s Executive Director, among others. Together, these 10 initiatives aim to restore more than 68 million hectares of degraded land.

A high-level ministerial breakfast on soil biodiversity organized by FAO and the Government of China drew attention to the fact that soil biodiversity loss remains one of the main global threats to food security in many regions of the world. The  Global Soil Biodiversity Observatory (GLOSOB), which aims to forecast the status of soil biodiversity and soil health, was launched at the event.

“It’s hard to believe that around a quarter of all species on Earth live in soils for all or part of their lives and through soil 95% of the food we eat is produced. GLOSOB will enhance global efforts to monitor and thus manage and sustainably use soil biodiversity” remarked Lifeng Li, Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division.

A side event on Bioeconomy where a new FAO publication was launched demonstrated how supporting countries to achieve a sustainable and circular Bioeconomy is a priority for FAO and despite being a lesser known term it is actually very much part of our daily lives and has been for centuries. Think of cotton for clothes and making bioethanol from sugarcane. A Bioeconomy looks to use sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels like biomass that is produced from renewable sources, such as plants and waste, that can be continuously replenished and when managed sustainably are less damaging to ecosystems.

Finance was another issue under discussion. The Global Environment Facility is the largest donor supporting biodiversity programming globally, at COP15 their stance was reinforced with the approval of the new Global Biodiversity Fund. The FAO Global Environment Facility team hosted an event on the newly-approved Food Systems Integrated Program to be led by FAO and IFAD. As the second-largest program under GEF-8, which runs from 2022-2026, FAO is discussing with countries how to invest the $5.3 billion in grant resources to help catalyze transformation of national and global agrifood systems.

FAO offers a way forward

With the adoption of the new framework, FAO - through the implementation of its Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors - is more than ready to support countries in implementing the framework” said Frederic Castell who leads FAO’s biodiversity mainstreaming unit, at the close of the Conference.

“As we work towards COP16 in Turkey in 2024, countries will have to update their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) to reflect the new decisions while FAO will concentrate efforts on fast tracking support to countries in the revision of their NBSAPs.”