One of the most important events for life on Earth, ever, is now underway. This week and next, delegates from more than 190 countries will come together in Montreal, Canada, for a conference known as COP15, or the UN Biodiversity Conference, to hash out a plan to halt the decline of ecosystems, wildlife, and the life-supporting services they provide.
If the term “COP” sounds familiar, that’s because there was another UN conference last month called COP27. But these two events are different. COP27 was about climate change — a conference of countries “party” to the UN’s major climate pact. COP15 brings together nations party to another major treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity.
I know this is a lot of jargon, but these agreements are worth understanding. They’re arguably the most important tools the world has to protect the planet and, in the case of the biodiversity conference, underappreciated. Many experts call COP15 the last chance to reverse the decline of nature.
There are black and white photos on the walls of many different bars in Key West from the 30s and 40s which show fishermen and divers with their catch.
Grouper which were taller than men standing with them hanging off scales were so common that there are tales of people having their boats dragged around in deep water by one fish the size of pilot whale.
There are photos of the turtle kraals. Men would dive, catch these massive turtles, shells the size of old VW Bug roofs. And there would be 100 or more of these blessed sea mammals - dead - on the docks arranged in mountains with beaming fishermen standing in front like conquering war heroes.
This Earth is fracked:
One of the splashiest and most contested targets is a commitment to conserve at least 30 percent of Earth’s land and water by 2030. The target is referred to as 30 by 30. The agreement also addresses another controversial topic: Who will pay for all of this? This is especially relevant for poorer nations and Indigenous communities, which harbor most of the world’s remaining biodiversity.