Crucial to the future of the planet, COP15 on biodiversity could take place without heads of state

It is one of the most decisive meetings of this decade for the protection of the environment and the survival of humanity, and it risks taking place without the presence of any Head of State. Two months after the opening of COP15 on biodiversity in Canada, China, which chairs this world conference, has officially invited only the ministers responsible for the matter and the heads of NGOs to participate in the debates. ” high level “according to an official document published on 14 September.

“Given the current plans, we may not have the heads of state and government”acknowledged Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), interviewed by the news site Climate house news early October. In France, Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu confirmed that he will travel to Montreal, where COP15 will take place from 7 to 19 December. “By sending invitations only to ministers, the presidency has decided to give this COP less importance than it should, reacted Oscar Soria, the campaign director of the NGO Avaaz. Politicians at the highest level must show the world that they care about ecological collapse. “

The challenge of COP15 is beyond measure: it is a question of establishing a new global framework to end the erosion of biodiversity by 2030. None of the objectives of the previous global agreement, concluded in 2010 in Japan, have been achieved, and the destruction of the nature continued to accelerate. Deforestation is at record levels, vertebrate populations have declined by at least 68% since 1970, and 40% of the land is degraded. Keeping ecosystems in good condition is however essential for food, agriculture, human health and even to combat global warming.

Tense diplomatic relations

For the COP27 for the climate, scheduled for early November, over ninety heads of state are expected to make the trip to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. As more scientists and some political leaders demand that the two climate and biodiversity crises be tackled together and with the same level of urgency, the possible absence of heads of state in Montreal raises concerns that COP15 – to be held at the same time as the World Cup in Qatar – does not provoke the desired mobilization.

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Initially scheduled for China in late 2020, this event has been postponed several times due to Covid-19. In late June, while Beijing was still grappling with the pandemic, the CBD announced it would finally take place in Montreal, where it is based. However, diplomatic relations between China and Canada, now the two co-pilots of this meeting, have been particularly strained for several years.

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