LONDON (REUTERS) - The United Nations said on Tuesday (June 21) it would move talks to secure a global post-2020 biodiversity agreement from Kunming in China to Montreal, Canada, following multiple pandemic-related delays.
Delegates to the Dec 5-17 summit of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP15, will aim to adopt a global framework for biodiversity to halt and reverse losses of the world's plants, animals, and ecosystems.
Initially scheduled to take place in the southwestern Chinese city in October 2020, COP15 was delayed due to Covid-19.
Though a first round of discussions was held virtually in Kunming in October 2021, the convention's secretariat announced this March that the summit had been delayed for a fourth time as China battled another wave of Covid-19 cases.
"Due to the continued uncertainties related to the ongoing global pandemic, China, as COP president, with the support of the Bureau, has decided to relocate the meetings from Kunming to a venue outside of China," Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the convention, said in a statement.
The effort, similar to the Paris climate agreement, aims to create long-term nature protection goals for mid-century and shorter-term targets for 2030, pushing for the convention's 195 signatories to enshrine these targets in national policies.
One of the most notable draft targets is to conserve 30 per cent of land and sea areas globally by 2030.
The new location "should now focus everyone's minds on the quality of the deal", said Li Shuo, a policy advisor for Greenpeace China.
Despite the change of venue to the seat of the secretariat in Montreal, China will retain the presidency of the conference.
"The main elements of the conference, including the theme and the logo, will remain unchanged," China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a statement.
Environment and Climate Change Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Now it is critical that the whole world comes together behind Canada and China to deliver an ambitious and adequately funded agreement in Montreal," said Brian O'Donnell, director of the conservation non-profit Campaign for Nature.