Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed C$350 million ($256.4 mln) in funding for biodiversity conservation efforts in developing nations as he officially opened COP15 in Montreal Tuesday, though green groups say the amount falls well short of what Canada should contribute.
Finance is set to be among the trickiest issues facing delegates from 196 countries in what is expected to be difficult negotiations over the next two weeks before parties might arrive at a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
“Progress, protection, and partnership, that’s what we’re focused on delivering,” Trudeau said at the COP’s opening ceremony Tuesday evening, calling for “big responsibility for big countries” to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
“Every leader must be telling their negotiators to bring this ambition to the table as we reach a final framework here over the next two weeks,” he said.
The C$350 mln that the prime minister pledged will go specifically towards advancing conservation efforts in poor countries and future implementation of the GBF, and will come in addition to Canada’s international climate finance pledges.
Trudeau’s pledge was intended to get the ball rolling on finance commitments, as much of the talk ahead of COP15 has been around the roughly $700 billion annual shortage in the funding needed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and the lack of will from rich nations to provide it.
NGOs are asking for developed nations in Montreal to come up with $100 bln worth of new annual funding for developing countries.
“It is good that Canada has committed new funds to tackle the global biodiversity crisis. This announcement at the launch of the biodiversity COP15 … increases the pressure for other developed countries to step forward and put new, not previously allocated money on the table,” said Reykia Fick, a nature and food campaigner with Greenpeace.
“However, in the face of the $100 billion annual deficit in global biodiversity funding identified by the Africa Group and like-minded countries, and C$600 million in annual funding recommended by the Green Budget Coalition, this commitment must only be a starting point towards Canada paying its fair share towards the ongoing global effort to halt and reverse mass extinction,” Fick said.
In a report last week, UNEP urged the world to more than double annual biodiversity spending by 2025.
Meanwhile, at the COP15 opening ceremony, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced an additional C$650 mln in funding towards the province’s 2030 nature plan, that will be spent to increase protected areas, protect threatened species, and support Indigenous leadership in biodiversity conservation.
He also revealed plans for a new blue fund to protect freshwater resources in Quebec, which make up 10% of the province’s acreage and 3% of the world’s renewable freshwater resources, though further details of the fund will be announced later.
“We hope that everyone during the next few days will be brave [and] bold, in order to better protect the natural areas and natural environment,” said Legault, while highlighting his government’s efforts to bring protected areas within the Quebec territory up to 17% from 10% in 2018, when his government was elected.
The Quebec premier pledged to achieve the 30×30 target in the province.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also spoke at the event, urging the world to agree to a bold post-2020 framework with clear targets, benchmarks, and accountability.
“No excuses, no delays,” Guterres said.
By Joan Pinto and Stian Reklev – email@example.com