Montréal, Dec. 17, 2022 – The following statement was issued by the Wildlife Conservation Society today from the Convention on Biological Diversity CoP15:

Said Joe Walston, executive vice president for WCS Global:

“There’s still time at CoP15 for a breakthrough moment for world governments to commit to an ambitious plan to protect and restore nature. CoP15 Parties have the power to stop the biodiversity extinction clock, and in the final hours in Montreal, we will, if they will. 

“The science is clear that the three existential and interrelated crises of our day: the collapse of biodiversity, climate change and the persistent threat of pandemics of zoonotic origin, all result from our destruction of nature. We have three messages for CoP15 Parties as they address these crises.

“CoP15 Parties need to focus on preventing further degradation and loss of ecological integrity, particularly in our most highly intact and biodiverse terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Ambitious actions outlined in the conservation targets of the CoP15 global biodiversity framework are a precondition for halting and reversing biodiversity loss, and achieving an equitable, prosperous and sustainable future.

“Our second message is that there is a variety of proven tools to reverse biodiversity loss. Protected and conserved areas, when designed and managed equitably with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, are demonstrably effective in addressing all three crises. We should build on these successes, including adopting a target to protect and conserve at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030. This effort must be complemented by other policy actions to redirect harmful incentives, to transform our food systems, and to radically increase global support to countries and communities that do the most for global biodiversity yet suffer the most from our collective impacts.

“Our third message is that an ambitious framework presents an extraordinary opportunity to restore our broken relationship with nature.

“CoP15 could be the catalyst for a renaissance for nature; one that secures lives and economies, prevents the pathogen spillovers that could and likely will lead to future pandemics of zoonotic origin, stabilizes local and global climate systems, and provides agency and security for peoples and cultures who have built interdependent relationships with biodiversity that we must learn from.

“It is within our collective power to transform the trajectory of nature; incremental political and financial commitments will fail the planet. If CoP 15 Parties do not truly commit to change our abusive relationship with nature here in Montreal, we will all be judged harshly by future generations, and rightly so.”