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Cop15: What is it and why is it important?

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

What: Representatives from 188 countries will attend the UN’s COP15 to create a framework for protecting, restoring and enhancing biodiversity.

When: 5th December 2023 – 17th December 2023

Where: Montreal, Canada

The UN Biodiversity Conference (Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)), due to be held in December 2022, is a key moment for biodiversity – both in the UK and internationally.

The event will bring together representatives from 188 countries to agree on goals to ensure the survival of species and to prevent the collapse of global ecosystems.

What is biodiversity?

‘Biodiversity’ differs from ‘nature’. The Convention on Biological Diversity, the landmark international agreement on how to use and protect global natural resources, defines biodiversity as the “variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

In other words, biodiversity refers to the various animals, plants and microorganisms that exist in a particular habitat or ecosystem, and the ways in which they interact with each other.

Why is COP15 important?

These ecosystems provide people with the resources, food, medicine and clean water needed to survive. Recent reports, however, paint a bleak picture for our natural environment and wildlife, setting the scene for what scientists have described as a ‘tipping point’ event at COP15.

Here are some of the key global findings:

What needs to be achieved?

The main goal of COP15 will be to create, negotiate and ultimately agree a ‘Global Diversity Framework’ for protecting, restoring and enhancing biodiversity. As discussed at COP27, the big hope is that the parties will develop a ‘Paris-style agreement’ for nature.

That framework will build on the previous agreement, known as the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. None of the targets from this Plan were achieved.

The draft Global Diversity Framework includes four goals for 2050 focusing on conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity, adequate means of implementation and fair-benefit sharing. The draft Framework also includes 22 targets, the most publicised of which is to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030 (referred to as 30 by 30).

Why is this important to the real estate market and all sectors that are part of it?

The Global Diversity Framework, and the concept of ‘nature positive’ will impact the UK real estate sector to the same extent as Net-Zero Carbon has.

‘Nature positive’ is defined as ‘halting and reversing nature loss measured from a 2020 baseline, so that nature is measurably on the path of recovery by 2030, with full recovery by 2050’. You can almost certainly expect some changes to UK Legislation around biodiversity net-gain as a result.

As is often the case, the responsibility for our biodiversity protection and restoration will fall on the real estate market, given its significance in land use and development. There are great opportunities to make a big difference to the future of our world.

There are interesting financial upsides too; developers can partner with national water companies to reduce pollution incidents (and financial penalties) through reduced surface water runoff, and planting new habitat is a good way to attenuate urban flooding, resulting in significant financial benefits for government and the insurance industry that can be shared.

You will find our report and analysis on COP15 in the days that follow the conclusion of the event, and hopefully, the new Framework.

Key contact

Christopher Kerr

Head of Environmental, Social and Governance Special Interest Group



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