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Are the COP15 Biodiversity aims at risk over funding issues?

After two weeks of negotiations, delegates at the COP 15 summit finally achieve a landmark decision, but only after considerable debate.

Developing countries stage a mass walk-out of the global conference on conserving the world’s biodiversity, claiming concerns about how those efforts would be funded had fallen down the pecking order.

The question of how much developing countries should pay towards achieving these biodiversity targets has long been a stumbling block amongst negotiators.

Most of the world’s biodiversity is located in the poorer countries of the global south. Most of the wealth — much of which was created at the expense of the world’s biodiversity — exists in the north.

Developing nations point out that as developed countries are primarily responsible for the loss of biodiversity since the Industrial Revolution, it is only equitable for those responsible for the loss should contribute more towards reversing it.

Estimates vary widely between US$200 billion to US$700 billion per year, including the redirection of public subsidies from projects that damage biodiversity to those that support it.

Delegates have disagreed on whether the money should be funneled through a new fund or existing channels. Transparency and disclosure are also topics of discussion.

Climate change and biodiversity are closely linked. Scientists have concluded that it will be impossible to hold global warming to 1.5 C without saving at least one-third of the planet.

However, by the conclusion of the conference on 19 December, progress on most fronts had been made. Nations approved a historic deal to reverse decades of environmental destruction, pledging to secure 30 percent of the planet as a protected zone by 2030 and to pay US$30 billion (HK$234 billion) in yearly conservation aid for the developing world.

Developed nations pledged to increase financial aid to the developing world to US$20 billion annually by 2025, rising to US$30 billion a year by 2030, while ensuring 30 percent of land and sea areas are effectively conserved and managed by the end of this decade.

So, despite the somewhat contentious nature of the deliberations, after a marathon final-day session, differences were put aside, concessions made and the environment should be the big winner.