'Biggest biodiversity conference in a decade' set to get underway in Canada

'Biggest biodiversity conference in a decade' set to get underway in Canada

Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan and representatives from the Department of Housing and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will attend the Montreal event on behalf of Ireland.

More than 10,000 scientists and 196 countries will descend on Canada this week for what has been described as "the biggest biodiversity conference in a decade".

The Cop15 event, beginning on Wednesday and lasting until Monday, December 19, is now seen as a crucial event in the fight against biodiversity and habitat loss, which is under severe pressure.

Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan and representatives from the Department of Housing and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will attend the Montreal event on behalf of Ireland.

The EU as a whole says it wants to negotiate the protection of at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030, while restoring three billion hectares of both land and oceans.

The bloc's negotiators also want agreement on halting species extinctions caused by humans, and will attempt to address unsustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.

Pesticides, invasive alien species, and plastics are also on the agenda for the Europeans.

Global plan

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: "Biodiversity is about saving our life-support systems. Nature is a fundamental building block of a healthy and productive planet, one that provides our food and livelihoods, and helps us fight climate change

"Cop15 needs to deliver a global plan to protect and restore those building blocks. Europe is ready to aim high, but we must do this together. Let’s make Montreal the Paris moment for nature."

The Montreal biodiversity summit has been described as a potential Paris Agreement for Nature, referring to the landmark agreement from 2015 in the French capital.

The 2015 Paris Agreement set the 1.5C temperature increase limit goal that scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst fallout from climate change.

Robinson criticism

Last month, former Irish president Mary Robinson urged world leaders to take the Cop15 summit more seriously, with the perception that it has not received the same recognition as the Cop climate change summits, such as Cop27 which took place in Egypt last month with world leaders in attendance.

Cop events for biodiversity have been perceived to have disappointing outcomes in the recent past.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), targets set out by governments at Cop10 in Nagoya, Japan to halve natural habitat loss, as well as plans for sustainable consumption and production, have not been met.

"The planet is experiencing a dangerous decline in nature as a result of human activity. It is experiencing its largest loss of life since the dinosaurs. One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction," UNEP said.

"What is adopted in Montreal will essentially be a global blueprint to save the planet’s dwindling biodiversity."

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