Welcome to the the People’s Pass – your newsletter from the ACF team at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal. 

As we approach the halfway point of COP15, countries continue to debate the all-important final text of the new Global Biodiversity Framework. It’s still a long way off the clear and ambitious agreement we need to protect nature that's still intact, and restore what's been damaged.

High-ambition countries are working together closely on important commitments to end extinction and to tackle climate change through nature based solutions. But progress in the main negotiating room sometimes feels glacially slow.

A testing time for targets

The conference delegates – mainly public servants from government environment departments and ministers’ offices around the world – are feeling pressure to deliver something much closer to consensus by the time Ministers, including Tanya Plibersek, arrive for the high-level segment in just three days.

Some big issues they’re still working through are:

  • A deal to protect 30% of land and sea, including inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems. There were rumours that a push was on to split the land and ocean targets and to lower ambition, but thankfully that seems to have been nipped in the bud.
  • Who pays? While Australia is both a ‘megadiverse’ country and a rich country, most of the world's remaining biodiversity is in developing countries. Justifiably, they want rich countries, whose overconsumption is the main driver of nature destruction everywhere, to help pay for conservation and restoration.
  • If countries will 'make it mandatory for big businesses to publicly and transparently disclose all the impacts and dependencies they have on nature, and to reduce their negative impacts by half.

A senior diplomat quipped to me that while we were saying earlier this year 'don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good', we're now approaching the point of 'don't let the good be the enemy of the achievable'.

I’m hopeful we aren’t at that point yet – many conversations happen between countries in closed rooms outside the main negotiating room, so we’re seeing progress between sessions.

It's inspiring to see the number of First Nations representatives and delegates. Without their knowledge and rights being incorporated throughout this agreement, it's difficult to see it being successful.

O Canada

The nature and extinction crisis reaches every corner of the earth. Everywhere that nature is in trouble, you’ll find people speaking up for their communities and the wildlife, rivers, forests and oceans that they care for and depend on.

We wanted to get to know the Canadians standing up for nature in their own backyard. Watch these short videos and see what’s been happening on the ground to hold the governments and businesses gathering for COP15 in Montreal accountable and push them to aim high for nature:

Brayden White, from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, speaks of the unique impacts of biodiversity loss on First Nations Peoples, and the push to have First Nations’ voices heard at COP15. Watch here.

Brayden White talks to ACF

3,500 people braved the bitter cold to march for biodiversity and human rights on Saturday. Organised by Collectif COP15, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network and Greenpeace Canada, the protest called for a global agreement to reverse the loss of biodiversity and ensure the rights of Indigenous Peoples, communities and individuals. ACF spoke to marchers on the ground – watch our coverage here.

Biodiversity and human rights march in Montreal.

ACF caught up with Graham Saul and Hannah Dean from Nature Canada, Canada’s national nature advocacy organisation, and heard about how they’ve been elevating the biodiversity and extinction crisis before and during negotiations. Watch here.

ACF talks to Nature Canada as COP15 kicks off.

Quote of the day

“It’s our cultural way of life to have that diversity within our forests and the different systems that we live amongst… when there’s biodiversity loss we can’t practise our traditional ways because of it.” – Brayden White, Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

That’s a wrap...

The relationship between business and biodiversity is in the spotlight at COP15 over the next 48 hours – and financial institutions and big corporations have shown up in Montreal in large numbers.

We’ll be watching closely to see how big business is held accountable for their part in nature decline, and how they embrace the challenge of mobilising capital for nature protection and restoration, not destruction.

That’s it for this edition of the People’s Pass. Until next time.

P.S. This is easily the coldest (today’s high in Montreal was -4°C!) and the most COVID-safe meeting I’ve attended. Every delegate completes a RAT each morning, and everyone's wearing a mask – making for lots of cases of mistaken identity!


Nat Pelle

Business and Biodiversity Campaign Lead