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

The big question for the next two weeks is whether the world will come together to end out-of-control nature destruction and put forests, wetlands, oceans and wildlife on the path to recovery.

Day one saw opening statements from representatives from each region of the world and the UN Secretary General António Guterres. Every speaker highlighted the alarming breakdown of our living world: life-giving reefs, rainforests and rivers being destroyed and depleted, one million species teetering on the brink, and climate damage like worsening floods and fires devastating communities and wildlife.

To turn this around, a successful COP15 needs to deliver action on the drivers of nature destruction like overconsumption, destructive land-clearing and development, and pollution.

A new 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework with strong goals, resourcing and accountability must safeguard the living systems that support us, recognise and protect the rights of First Nations’ Peoples, and hold governments and businesses accountable.

Back home, thousands of us have called on Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to play a leadership role in Montreal to inspire other leaders to make bold commitments like Australia’s new goal to end extinction, and to actively advocate for strong global goals to reverse nature destruction. Read ACF’s COP15 media release for more detail.

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A big splash on social media

Some of the fantastic posts from our social media action: Nature Snaps for COP15.

Yesterday, hundreds of people took part in Nature Snaps for COP15, posting photos of the nature they love on social media to urge Minister Plibersek to help raise the world’s ambition to protect and restore nature.

There were heaps of incredible posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Our hashtag #BeforeItsGone was the number three trending topic on Twitter in Australia, and #COP15 trended at number six – an incredible effort!

Surrounding the Environment Minister and Prime Minister with our public posts sent an unmissable message on the day COP15 started that we want our leaders to get to work to end nature destruction now. A big thanks to everyone who took part. Check out some of the fantastic photos and comments on Twitter.

Watch: why we must act now for oceans

In the lead up to COP15, ACF chatted with Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans. Lewis reflected on the damage to the world’s ocean biodiversity in his lifetime and the importance of the goal to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, so nature and wildlife can recover. Watch our video with Lewis Pugh.

Watch: Kelly on ABC News

ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy was interviewed by ABC News on the eve of COP15, explaining how Australia has a unique opportunity to play a leadership role in Montreal. Watch Kelly on ABC News.

Quote of the day

“No excuses. No delays. Promises made must be promises kept.” – António Guterres, UN Secretary General.

And breaking news back home…

The Albanese Government has responded to the once-in-a-decade independent review of Australia’s national environment laws, signposting the changes to our nature laws they will bring to Parliament in the new year.

For close to a decade now we have all persevered, though setbacks and pushbacks, to stop successive governments’ attempts to make our environmental protection laws even weaker.

Now, we’re heading in the direction of actually protecting and restoring nature in Australia.

The government’s response isn’t perfect. But it is a solid statement for stopping nature destruction, including positive plans to implement a new national Environment Protection Authority with real decision-making powers and new environmental standards that set environmental outcomes applied to all industries.

There is still a vast amount of detail to fill in, and we need the government to go further still to end nature destruction and restore nature to health by the end of the decade. But we now have a real chance of achieving national laws that actually protect nature in 2023. Read our blog for more detail on the government’s response to the Samuel Review.

That’s a wrap

That’s it for the first edition of the People’s Pass.

From here, working groups will start meeting to negotiate every goal and target. ACF will join those negotiations with the aim of encouraging the Australian delegation to be ambitious champions for nature.

Keep an eye out for the second installment in your inbox early next week, when we’ll be in the thick of the negotiations and might even have made some progress on those goals and targets.

Nat Pelle

Business and Biodiversity Campaign Lead