Biodiversity talks get under way in Montreal

Biodiversity talks get under way in Montreal

MONTREAL: High-stakes UN biodiversity talks start on December 7 in Montreal, which is being billed as the last chance to save the planet's species and ecosystems from irreversible human destruction.

Delegates from across the world gathered for the Dec 7 to Dec 19 meeting to try to hammer out a new deal for nature: A 10 year framework aimed at saving the planet's forests, oceans and species before it's too late.

Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction, according to UN chief Antonio Guterres at a ceremony ahead of the talks, with its bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth.

Before he took the dais, a group of around half a dozen Indigenous protesters interrupted a speech by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a sign of the passions inflamed by biodiversity loss among the most impacted communities.

The official opening of the meeting, known as COP 15, follows several days of pre-negotiations that saw very little progress on key issues, sparking fears that parties may walk away without a good deal.

With only five out of more than 20 targets agreed so far, observing that negotiators must unblock sticking points on difficult items like finance and implementation.

Bernadette Fischler Hooper, head of international advocacy at WWF, told reporters Tuesday that the summit is probably the last chance for governments to turn things around for nature and to rescue our precious life support system.

The 10 year framework has a cornerstone promise to protect 30 per cent of the world's land and seas by 2030, removing harmful fishing and agriculture subsidies and tackling invasive species and reducing pesticides.

Finance is one of the most divisive issues as developing nations are demanding more funding for conservation.

A coalition of nations called for wealthy countries to provide $100 billion annually - rising to US $700 billion a year by 2030 for biodiversity.

Some countries want to set up a separate funding mechanism for biodiversity, which wealthy nations have resisted.

The sticky issue of biopiracy is leading to roadblocks, as many mainly African countries demand wealthy nations share the benefits of ingredients and formulas used in cosmetics and medicines derived from the Global South.

Implementation has emerged as a sticking point in recent days, with disagreements over how to make sure a final deal is put into practice - unlike its predecessor in 2010.

A European source close to negotiations said there was a resistance to having robust monitoring and review mechanisms that we feel is necessary.