Nature Canada

What is NatureCOP? A step forward for people and the planet

Studies are telling us over and over: biodiversity is disappearing from our planet with alarming speed and severity. What is Canada doing in the face of the staggering habitat loss and rapidly changing climate driving unprecedented mass extinctions? Hopefully, NatureCOP.

What is NatureCOP?

Every two years (that is, when there’s not a pandemic) officials from 195 countries and the European Union gather to discuss progress on protecting, sustainably using, and sharing nature and its benefits. This meeting is called the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, also known as the NatureCOP. This December, the 15th NatureCOP will be held in Montreal and run by the NatureCOP president, China. 

Why is NatureCOP important?

The fact that NatureCOP was delayed for two years means it’s even more vital now that it’s finally happening. Canada’s government has committed to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, but so far, there is no plan to achieve this goal. After years of negotiations, those gathered at NatureCOP are expected to sign a new global agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss over the next decade—the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). This could mean real action items and progress.

Much of life on earth may depend on this happening. Biodiversity – the variety and quantity of life – is declining across the planet. More than one million species face extinction. Approximately two thirds of the world’s ecosystems are degraded or unsustainably used. As many as 40% of all animals and plants may be extinct by the end of this century. This is the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs

This crisis does not just matter for nature. Collapsing biodiversity is destroying the natural systems human societies rely on for food, clean air and water, stable climates, and fuel. If nothing changes, damage to these natural services could cost over $2.7 trillion a year by 2030.

How can NatureCOP help nature?

Tackling worldwide natural destruction will take participation from – you guessed it – the whole wide world. COP15 has the power to rally the globe together to halt and reverse declining biodiversity. This will require urgent action on conservation, supporting nature’s contributions to people, ensuring fair sharing of the benefits from genetic resources, and funding the protection and restoration of nature for the benefit of the planet and people.

While almost none of the GBF is officially agreed upon, over 100 countries including Canada support an ambitious response to the biodiversity crisis. For example, protecting 30 percent of the world’s oceans and lands by 2030, stopping $500 billion in subsidies that harm nature, and reducing the rate of extinction by 90 percent. If the Nature COP approves these, and the 19 other proposed targets, they will form the basis of the global effort to halt and reverse nature’s losses over the next ten years.

But, as pointed out by Canadian biodiversity experts, serious national commitments must be made to translate the GBF into action. The results of COP15 will have to be applied differently in each country, and even ambitious targets should be seen as stepping stones to truly halting and reversing nature loss in Canada and globally. 

In Canada, we must show leadership by following through on our promise to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 while prioritizing Indigenous-led conservation, Nature-based Climate Solutions, and urban biodiversity and equitable access to nature.

Get involved in NatureCOP

While NatureCOP provides a once-in-a-decade opportunity for people and the planet, it is only the first step. Far more will need to be done to hand down resilient, healthy, and beautiful natural heritage to future generations.

The good news is that you can be a part of taking this first crucial step. You can have an impact by telling Canada’s NatureCOP representatives that you expect real action out of the NatureCOP in Montreal. 

Send your letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and his ministers today. 

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Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.