COP15 Montreal, Canada. Brendon Queiroz.

Top of the COPs - A Paris moment for nature

3 minute read

Brendon Queiroz

Brendon Queiroz, Public Affairs Officer

23 Dec 2022

As we wrap up 2022, our Public Affairs team were wrapping up warm in Montreal, Canada.

Our Head of Strategic Advocacy, Anna Gelderd, and Public Affairs Assistant, Brendon Queiroz, attended the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) to represent the Marine Conservation Society and to contribute to the COP15 Ocean Voice.

Brendon at COP15 in Montreal, Canada.

Public Affairs Assistant, Brendon Queiroz, at COP15

Credit: Brendon Queiroz

What happened

The Conference brought together those in the environmental sector from around the world to champion nature and highlight the importance of biodiversity, and why we must do everything we can to halt and reverse the loss of species. The goal was for a robust Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to be agreed and implemented.

Tensions were high throughout the negotiations. The global north wanted to ensure commitments were made to push action forward, however, there tends to be a larger number of locations in the global south with the highest levels of biodiversity. We know that conservation can mean making choices that are not always in line with short term economic gains, so the global south wanted reassurance that they would have sufficient resources and funding to do this.

We called on the UK Government to facilitate investment in nature and the ocean. With the climate and biodiversity crises intensifying, the role of the ocean as a nature-based solution must be properly accounted for, recognised and invested in.

In the early hours of Monday 19th December, nations were able to strike a 30 by 30 deal, with agreement that 30% of sea, in addition to 30% of land, must be fully protected by 2030.

There has also been a pledge of $30bn from global north to the south by 2030, to fund and mobilise conservation action.

We must continue to strive for better nature protection, for wildlife, for us and for the planet.

Anna Gelderd, Head of Strategic Advocacy

“Currently, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) cover about a third of UK seas, but most don’t have proper management measures in place. The natural capital - the resources the ocean provides us via ecosystem services - within these MPAs is still not protected.

"So, we welcome the improvement to offshore MPAs but we need a faster roll-out of byelaws and for greater parts of the network to have full protection. 30% is not the upper limit - we must continue to strive for better nature protection, for wildlife, for us and for the planet”

What we did

During COP15, we attended lots of events focusing on MPA management, nature-based solutions, fisheries, 30 by 30 commitments and more. There were many organisations, ranging from environmental charities, private investors, governmental bodies and the public sector, holding discussions and sharing learnings of what works through experience.

It’s great to have these events where we can learn and share knowledge with others from around the world, and to see the amount of active engagement from indigenous voices at the conference.

When working to preserve and protect a shared resource such as our ocean, we must include all voices.

Alongside Blue Marine Foundation and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we hosted an event in Montreal to highlight the value of properly managed Marine Protected Areas on COP15 Ocean Action Day (16th December 2022).

We wanted to bring the ocean into the room, and COP15 discussions. We issued a joint call for the UK to pick up the pace on delivery of ocean protection at home.

We heard talks from Max Bello, International Ocean Policy Officer at Mission Blue; Lord Benyon, the Minister for Biosecurity, Marine and Rural Affairs, and UN Ocean Ambassador, Peter Thomson. All spoke passionately about the need for ocean protection and what they hope to see happen in the near future.

We also heard from island voices. Soloman Kaho'Ohalahala and Ludovic Burns Tuki performed a moving chant for those at the event. We all share our ocean. We need to ensure that voices from all backgrounds are given a seat at the table.

What's next?

We’ll continue to work with the UK Government and provide evidence and support when needed. We’ll hold UK governments to account and push them to act and deliver at home on the international commitments they’ve made. 

Although this has been a huge moment for nature, the commitments made are not legally binding. However, countries have agreed to act on this through reporting and reviewing their targets on biodiversity. While this deal won’t solve the loss of biodiversity, it will certainly help. Getting acknowledgement and recognition for the benefits we derive from nature is a big win and we should all be motivated by that.