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UN biodiversity talks 'last chance' for nature

2022-12-07 HKT 11:39
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  • UN biodiversity talks 'last chance' for nature
High-stakes UN biodiversity talks open in Montreal on Wednesday, in what is being billed as the "last best chance" to save the planet's species and ecosystems from irreversible human destruction.

Delegates from across the world gathered for the December 7-19 meeting to try to hammer out a new deal for nature: a 10-year framework aimed at saving the planet's forests, oceans and species before it is too late.

"With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction," UN chief Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday at a ceremony ahead of talks.

Before he took the dais, a group of around half a dozen Indigenous protesters interrupted a speech by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a sign of the passions inflamed by biodiversity loss among the most impacted communities.

The official opening of the meeting, known as Cop-15, follows several days of pre-negotiations that saw very little progress on key issues, sparking fears parties may walk away without a good deal.

Observers called for negotiators to urgently unblock sticking points on difficult items like finance and implementation, with only five out of more than 20 targets agreed so far.

The summit "is probably the last best chance for governments to turn things around for nature, and to rescue our precious life support system," Bernadette Fischler Hooper, head of international Advocacy at WWF, told reporters on Tuesday.

Draft targets for the 10-year framework include a cornerstone pledge to protect 30 percent of the world's land and seas by 2030, eliminating harmful fishing and agriculture subsidies and tackling invasive species and reducing pesticides.

Finance is among the most divisive issues as developing nations are demanding increased funding for conservation.

Earlier this year a coalition of nations called for wealthy countries to provide at least US$100 billion annually – rising to US$700 billion a year by 2030 – for biodiversity.

Some countries want to set up a separate funding mechanism for biodiversity, which wealthy nations have largely resisted. (AFP)