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29 November 2022

Press Release

For immediate release

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  • WWF warns of catastrophic consequences for planet if nature-positive deal to save our natural world not secured at UN conference in Montreal starting next week 

  • Countries including UK must commit to goal of conserving at least 30% of the planet’s land, inland waters and oceans by 2030 

  • Conservation organisation urges Rishi Sunak to attend summit and provide ‘lifeline for nature’ 

In the face of accelerating biodiversity loss and growing food insecurity, WWF is urging UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to keep the Government’s promise to lead the way in negotiations at the UN Biodiversity Summit (CBD COP15) on a game-changing global deal to reverse the loss of nature by 2030. The leading conservation charity is warning that without his presence in Montreal next week, this promise risks being forgotten, leaving our natural world on life support and our future security in disarray.  

Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history, with one million species now threatened with extinction and the UK one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. More than one in seven of our native species face extinction and more than 40% are in decline. WWF’s recent Living Planet Report also revealed that global wildlife populations have seen average declines of nearly 70% in just 50 years.  

WWF also stresses the importance of countries agreeing to a goal of conserving at least 30% of the planet’s land, inland waters and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach that recognises the leadership and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. As part of this, WWF is urging the UK Government to show strong leadership at COP15 by ensuring the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s attendance and a firm commitment for nature at the summit and beyond. 

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF-UK, said:  

“Nature is our biggest ally in the fight against climate change and the source of our health, security and prosperity.  As a major economy, the UK must deliver on its nature promises by publishing targets to restore our vital habitats at home and taking a leadership role on the world stage.    

“As nature disappears, our leaders are playing for time we don’t have, risking catastrophic consequences for people, planet and the economy.  We urge the Prime Minister to attend the summit and provide a lifeline for nature by driving forward a ‘Paris’-style global deal in Montreal – only then can we protect people and planet, and bring our world back to life.” 

At the same time, action is needed to ensure the remaining 70% of the planet is sustainably managed and restored – this means addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss, with the same level of urgency. Science is clear that global production and consumption rates are completely unsustainable and are causing serious damage to the natural systems people rely on for their livelihoods and wellbeing. WWF believes a commitment to halve the global footprint of production and consumption by 2030, while recognising huge inequalities between and within countries, is desperately needed to ensure that key sectors, such as agriculture and food, fisheries, forestry, extractives and infrastructure, are transformed to help deliver a nature-positive world. 

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said:  

“We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. We’ve lost half of the world’s warm water corals, and forests the size of roughly one football field vanish every two seconds*. Wildlife populations have suffered a two-thirds decline globally in less than 50 years. The future of the natural world is on a knife’s edge. But nature is resilient – and with a strong global agreement driving urgent action it can bounce-back.  

“Nature holds the answers to many of the world’s most pressing challenges. Failure at COP15 is not an option. It would place us at increased risk from pandemics, exacerbate climate change making it impossible to limit global warming at 1.5°C, and stunt economic growth – leaving the poorest people more vulnerable to food and water insecurity. To tackle the nature crisis, governments must agree on a nature-positive goal that unites the world in protecting more of the nature left on the planet while restoring as much as possible and transforming our productive sectors to work with nature, not against it. After many pledges and commitments, it’s crunch time in Montreal for leaders to deliver for people and planet.” 

Despite a large and growing number of world leaders committing to secure an ambitious global biodiversity agreement, key issues remain unresolved. In the UK, the government is still to publish its nature focused targets under the Environment Act, and across the world the biodiversity finance gap is estimated to be US$700 billion annually. WWF is calling for countries including the UK to substantially increase finance, including international public finance with developing countries as the beneficiaries, and align public and private financial flows with nature-positive practices, including through the elimination or repurposing of harmful subsidies and other incentives.  

The talks are the finale to what has been an incredibly challenging four years of negotiations, with the pandemic delaying any agreement on the global biodiversity framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) until now.  




*Half of the world’s warm water corals have been lost since the 1950s, and we're currently losing around 100,000 sq km of forest per year, or roughly one football pitch every two seconds. 

WWF considers the below essential ingredients in an ambitious global biodiversity framework: 

  • A mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for a nature-positive world 

  • A goal to conserve 30% of the planet’s land and water by 2030 through a rights-based approach 

  • A commitment to halve the world’s footprint of production and consumption by 2030 

  • A comprehensive resource mobilisation strategy to finance implementation of the framework  

  • A strong implementation mechanism which offers reviews and ratchets action over time, in the mould of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with agreed indicators to measure progress 

  • A rights-based approach, recognising the leadership, rights, and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, and a whole of society approach, enabling participation of all sectors of society throughout the implementation of the framework 

  • The inclusion of equitable and rights-based Nature-based Solutions alongside ecosystem-based approaches to deliver benefits for people and nature 

WWF’s expectations paper for COP15 is available to read here.