A new environmental agreement, adopted this week at the UN summit in Montreal, allows the world to stop the rapid deterioration of the state of nature, but only if rich countries provide enough funds and all countries make conservation a priority.

The goals outlined in the agreement, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, include ending species extinction, saving 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030, and mobilizing $200 billion a year for conservation.

Conservationists praised the deal’s ambition, saying it was tantamount to the Paris Agreement on Conservation of Nature, which set 23 specific targets against which countries can measure their progress.

“This is equivalent to a global climate of 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of the International Wildlife Fund.

It took four years of negotiations just to set the targets, culminating in the COP15 summit in Montreal this month, during which countries weighed environmental considerations against other factors such as economic development and industry competition.

Nothing less than the survival of hundreds of thousands of species is at stake, with the UN saying about 1 million are currently threatened with extinction.

But achieving the 23 goals will be much more difficult, environmental experts told Reuters, requiring strong political will and a willingness to sacrifice some of the best real estate in the world for nature.

“What really matters is how these goals and targets translate into national plans,” said Nick Isaac, a macroecologist at the UK’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology.

For developing countries, this will also depend on obtaining much-needed funding to incentivize conservation and pay its costs.

“The key will be the timely fulfillment of financial obligations by developed countries,” said a representative of one of the Latin American countries.

Possible obstacles

While the agreement includes an ambitious goal of protecting 30% of the land and seas by 2030, the results will depend on which areas are chosen for conservation and what is considered protected.

Neither is clearly defined in the agreement, so it is up to countries to decide how ambitious they will be.

Scientists and conservation groups have called on countries to protect species-rich terrestrial and marine areas. The problem is that these are the same areas that most people prefer to live and work in – with temperate weather, plenty of water and greenery.

“The selection of regions for protection… should be based on the best available data and methodology,” said Alexander Antonelli, scientific director of the British Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “Otherwise, there is a big risk that the cheapest areas are being protected, and not those that are of the greatest importance for biodiversity.”

What countries consider protected also matters, experts say.

During the talks, delegates discussed whether protected areas should be completely closed to human settlements and development, or whether some resource extraction should be allowed if managed sustainably. The deal left the issue unresolved.

Some countries have already begun to allocate territories for protection.

China has made almost a third of its land inaccessible for development. Canada, one of the largest countries in the world, is expanding protected land and sea areas in the Arctic.

Later this month, the US Congress is expected to pass legislation giving US states $1.4 billion annually in conservation.

Show us the money

Throughout the two-week COP15 summit, ministers repeatedly insisted that any conservation ambition must be backed by money.

Funding from developed countries ended up well below the requested $100 billion a year. Instead, the deal included a pledge to provide $200 billion a year from the public and private sectors by 2030, including $30 billion from rich countries.

Without this money, poorer countries warned they could not guarantee the protection of nature within their borders.

“Protecting the Amazon, Congo Basin forests, peatlands, mangroves and reefs around the world will require a significant increase in funding,” said Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the nonprofit Campaign for Nature.

“Political leaders are just beginning to realize how high a priority biodiversity should be on their agenda and in their budgets,” he said.

At COP15, the three largest rainforest countries – Brazil, Congo and Indonesia – worked together in the final hours to reach consensus on a deal. Just last month, the three announced a new partnership to collaborate on forest conservation.

“There is a lot of potential for such an alliance,” said Anders Haug Larsen of the Norwegian Rainforest Foundation. “Because the agreement prioritizes areas with the greatest biodiversity, the implicit protection of the rainforest will be at the heart of its implementation.”

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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