As Australia’s Environment Minister Sussan Ley prepares to join other leaders to negotiate a ‘Paris Agreement for nature’, the national environment group has warned Australia has more to lose than most countries if there is no strong global treaty to stop nature destruction.

The Australian Conservation Foundation is urging Minister Ley to show leadership and champion an agreement with goals to halt and reverse biodiversity destruction to achieve a nature-positive world by 2030.

The UN biodiversity conference (COP15), which begins on Monday, will thrash out a new global biodiversity framework, including goals and targets that could end extinction and protect a third of the planet.

“Australia is famous around the world for our diverse landscapes like the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu, and unique wildlife, like koalas, lyrebirds and platypus,” said ACF’s nature campaigner Nathaniel Pelle.

“Setting a target to halt and reverse the destruction of nature is important because our animals, plants, landscapes and oceans are under threat like never before.

“Globally and in Australia, nature is being destroyed at a rate never seen in human history.

“We have so much to lose, and our track record is poor, with Australia being a world leader in extinctions and a deforestation hotspot, as the Congo and Amazon are.

“Federal spending on nature has declined by almost a third in eight years, while 70% of Australians say the government should prevent extinction, no matter the cost.

“This is the most important conference on biodiversity protection in a decade. 

“Protecting nature safeguards the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink – and makes us more resilient to climate change and pandemics.

“ACF urges Minister Ley to champion a new agreement with an unambiguous goal to halt and reverse biodiversity destruction by 2030 and match that with domestic commitments, including a target to protect 30% of our land, as other nations have done.”

COP15 will run from 11 to 15 October. The high-level segment featuring Ministers and world leaders will be held (online) on 12–13 October and is expected to include the adoption of the Kunming Declaration.

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Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]