Your guide to CBD COP15

A pedestrian square with a traditional archway in Kunming, China

Later this year countries from around the world have a real opportunity to help halt the loss of nature at a conference called CBD COP15. Here’s a quick summary of all you need to know about the conference and the impact it could have on the wildlife you love.

A pedestrian square with a traditional archway in Kunming, China

What to know before CBD COP15

What is CBD COP15?

CBD COP15 is short for the Convention of Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties 15. But what does that actually mean? In short it is a conference for countries to come together and make cast iron nature positive commitments to halt and begin to reverse the loss of the world’s biodiversity by 2030. The catastrophic loss of nature hasn’t been hitting the headlines the same as climate change, but resolving it is equally critical. In fact, climate change and the loss of biodiversity are so heavily linked that it is impossible to effectively tackle one without the other.

What’s biodiversity?

We’re glad you asked – click here to find out more.  

When and where is this conference happening?

It is being held in Kunming, China, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has now been delayed multiple times. We hope it will be held in summer 2022 as we urgently need the world to commit to a new global agreement for biodiversity. 

Has it happened before?

This is the 15th meeting of the countries who signed up to a treaty called the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). It was created at an Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to try and tackle key issues facing nature.

Since then, the decision makers have met every two years at a Conference of the Parties (COP) to agree actions to tackle biodiversity loss, set global targets, and monitor progress towards them. 

Why is it important?

We need to face the grim reality that we are losing wildlife and habitat around the world like never before.  This year alone some of our favourite birds - swifts, house martins and greenfinches - were all put on the red list following dramatic declines. This is just the tip of the iceberg. 
Around 1 million species could be lost, many within decades unless action is taken.

The only way to reverse this and put nature in recovery is a co-ordinated global response combined with national and local action. This COP is a chance for nations to agree to an ambitious and comprehensive set of targets called the Global Biodiversity Framework. It includes four goals and 21 targets we must achieve to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity before 2030, with the overall aim of the world living in harmony with nature by 2050. 

What do we need global leaders to do?

We want leaders to agree ambitious targets at CBD COP15 and show their dedication to making them happen through world leading national commitments . A successful outcome at COP15 means we have agreed to five key things:  

  • A nature positive 2030 mission to halt and begin to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030 for the benefit of all people and the planet 
  • To effectively protect and conserve at least 30% of land, inland waters, seas and coasts by 2030  
  • Agree targets to prevent extinctions, help wildlife populations recover, and retain and restore habitat for our wildlife to live by 2030   
  • A commitment from governments to tackle the key pressures and drivers of biodiversity loss such as pollution and invasive species.  
  • Ensure that resources and finances are promised to implement the targets and we hold countries accountable for their progress towards them  

What difference will this make to my local wildlife?

Yes, the conference is happening thousands of miles away and discussing global challenges, but decisions made will affect the wildlife you love right here in the UK.  
By signing up to the targets, the UK Government will be making a commitment to protect nature on a national, regional and local level. This will influence everything from changing how we farm to make more space for farmland birds, working with nature to create better flood defences and improving water quality for our fish, frogs and water voles. 

How does it relate to COP26 held in Glasgow last year? 

COP26 in Glasgow was the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, which concentrated on the key issues to reduce global warming. A constant theme at last year’s event was how climate change and the loss of biodiversity are intertwined and that one cannot be solved without the other.  

Accelerating action on both crises will also be part of CBD COP15, with world leaders being asked to commit to working with nature in the fight against climate change as part of the new targets set in the Global Biodiversity Framework. 

To read what our chief executive Beccy Speight, thought about the progress made at COP26, click here.

You can read further on how the outcomes of COP26 and CBD COP15 are vital in reducing the impact of climate change here.

What can we do to stop biodiversity loss? 

This is a global problem and CBD COP15 is a real opportunity for countries around the world to unite in their ambition to help nature recover. If the proposed targets, such as 30% of the land and sea being effectively protected by 2030, are met, it will be a huge step in the right direction in helping nature recover.  

But individuals can make a difference too. By thinking about our actions, such as planting flowers and shrubs at home to give wildlife food and shelter, or by making changes to our diet to help us transform our countryside and land use around the globe, together our actions can help nature recover.   
Find out more about biodiversity here.

What can I do?

Why not join us as a campaigner to help us put pressure on our leaders to make the right decisions for nature and our wildlife.

You can also make small changes to your life to help increase the biodiversity on your doorstep. Find out about ten easy ways to do this here.

What is the RSPB doing for CBD COP15?

This is a critical moment for our planet. We are working hard to raise people’s awareness of just how important COP15 is, while ensuring there is the political momentum needed to get a successful outcome. 

We are asking the UK government to play a central role at this summit and to be ambitious in the targets they commit to. Throughout we will be campaigning and reaching out to people to send a message to the decision makers that failure is not an option.