Historic biodiversity agreement reached at U.N. conference

The ministers and government officials from about 190 countries have mostly agreed that protecting biodiversity has to be a priority, with many comparing those efforts to climate talks that wrapped up last month in Egypt.

Climate change coupled with habitat loss, pollution and development have hammered the world’s biodiversity, with one estimate in 2019 warning that a million plant and animal species face extinction within decades — a rate of loss 1,000 times greater than expected. Humans use about 50,000 wild species routinely, and 1 out of 5 people of the world’s 8 billion population depend on those species for food and income, the report said.

But they have struggled for nearly two weeks to agree on what that protection looks like and who will pay for it.

The financing has been among the most contentions issues, with delegates from 70 African, South American and Asian countries walking out of negotiations Wednesday. They returned several hours later.

Brazil, speaking for developing countries during the week, said in a statement that a new funding mechanism dedicated to biodiversity should be established and that developed countries provide $100 billion annually in financial grants to emerging economies until 2030.

“All the elements are in there for a balance of unhappiness which is the secret to achieving agreement in U.N. bodies,” Pierre du Plessis, a negotiator from Namibia who is helping coordinate the African group, told The Associated Press. “Everyone got a bit of what they wanted, not necessarily everything they wanted. Let’s see if there is there is a spirit of unity.”

Others praised the fact the document recognizes the rights of Indigenous communities. In past biodiversity documents, indigenous rights were often ignored and they rarely were part of the larger discussions other than a reference to their traditional knowledge. The framework would reaffirm the rights of Indigenous peoples and ensure they have a voice in any decision making.

“It’s important for the rights of Indigenous peoples to be there, and while it’s not the exact wording of that proposal in the beginning, we feel that it is a good compromise and that it addresses the concerns that we have,” Jennifer Corpuz, a representative of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity said. “We believe that it’s a good basis for us to be able to implement policy at the national level.”

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