23 Nov 2022


This December, leaders and decision-makers from all over the world are heading to crucial nature talks in Montreal, Canada, for the 15th meeting of the parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity - otherwise known as Biodiversity COP or COP15.

It’s a critical time for our planet. WWF-Australia and thousands of incredible supporters have been working to share our vision of how we can work to Regenerate Australia with Australia’s leaders so they are empowered to speak up for our incredible yet very much at-risk biodiversity.

WWF-Australia’s Chief Conservation Officer, Rachel Lowry and Quinton Clements, the Head of Policy and Horizon Scanning, will be attending Biodiversity COP to ensure Australian voices are heard on-the-ground.

However, many Australians have never heard about this significant global conference, so we’ve put together a handy list of 15 things we should all know about COP15, why this is such an important moment for our planet and what you can do to ensure Australian voices are heard on the world stage.

1. What is biological diversity?

Biological diversity is also just known as simply, 'biodiversity’. Biodiversity is the rich variety of all life on Earth along with the places and spaces they call home - forests, grasslands, oceans, rivers and everything in between. It’s everything that is all around us - ‘nature’ - and although not all of us live close to nature, we all, directly and indirectly, depend on it for our survival and livelihoods.

Boab tree in the Kimberley
© Aleks Terauds / WWF-Australia

2. Why is biodiversity important?

It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the places we love and the animals that make this country unique! Nature is essential to human survival - it underpins our lives, economy and everything around us!

3. What is Biodiversity COP?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the sister to the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to at the UN Earth Summit in 1992. The countries (or parties) to the CBD are meeting for the 15th time since 1992 at the Conference of Parties (COP) to create a new global plan for protecting and restoring nature by 2030. To sum it up, the CBD’s COP - or the Biodiversity COP - determines global efforts for nature in the years ahead.

4. When and where is Biodiversity COP held?

COP15 was scheduled to be held in Kunming, China, in October 2020 but was delayed four times due to COVID-19. Although China officially opened COP15 in Kunming in October 2021, it was largely an online event. Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in China, it was announced COP15 would take place in Montreal, Canada, between 7-19 December 2022.

Southern white whale with calf= South Australia
© Fredrik Christiansen / Murdoch University

5. Who goes to Biodiversity COP?

There are 196 government parties that are part of Biodiversity COP, which includes countries from around the world.

This year, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is expected to attend the negotiations, and WWF-Australia’s Chief Conservation Officer, Rachel Lowry, will be on-the-ground with Quinton Clements, the Head of Policy and Horizon Scanning, to ensure the goals and framework are ambitious to achieve the best for people and the planet.

6. What happens at Biodiversity COP?

World leaders and decision-makers will have the opportunity to approve a historic global plan for protecting and restoring nature in the coming decade. This global plan - known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) - will give us a chance to reverse nature loss by 2030.

7. What is a Global Biodiversity Framework?

The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) are simply the global goals for nature. All parties at the conference agree to a set of goals that will put nature on a path to recovery over the next decade.

8. Why do we need a global plan for protecting and restoring nature?

Globally, nature is in a state of emergency. But even here in Australia, our wildlife and iconic natural wonders of the world are in crisis. Earlier this year, the government released the State of the Environment report, which said the environment is in a poor state and deteriorating as a result of increasing pressures from climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution and resource extraction.

Tackling an issue as big and urgent as nature’s destruction requires change across all areas of society. Just like how the Paris Agreement of 2015 united the world against the climate crisis, the global biodiversity framework (GBF) has the power to spark this very change, setting in motion a wave of action and awareness for nature on a global scale. Approving the GBF is the crucial first step to heal our broken relationship with nature and put us on the road to recovery.

These global goals can make a real difference to what happens in our backyard.

9. What is nature positive?

For too long, the total amount of nature we’re surrounded by has been declining at a staggering rate. To be nature positive, we need to reverse the nature loss and have more nature by 2030 than in 2020.

10. What outcome do we need at COP?

We need world leaders to approve an ambitious global plan for nature - the global biodiversity framework (GBF) - and ensure that it is science-based, comprehensive, and beneficial for all. It must spark immediate action on-the-ground and reverse nature loss, securing a nature-positive world by 2030. That would mean we end this decade with more nature, not less. To do this, the GBF must fully recognise the rights and roles of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as well as ignite change across all areas of society.

11. How can COP15 stop biodiversity loss?

The targets that will be negotiated include agreeing to protect 30% of land and 30% of oceans by 2030, eliminating plastic pollution, agreeing to zero new extinctions, as well as providing the financial resources to achieve a nature-positive world by 2030.

In Australia, these global targets can springboard us in the right direction - as one of a few megadiverse countries we have a lot at stake.

12. How is Biodiversity COP different to Climate COP or COP27?

They’re both United Nations Conference of Parties, but COP26 and COP27 are focused on climate change and limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees celsius. However, during COP27, the experts will discuss biodiversity as they’re inextricably linked to the climate crisis. Climate change is a key driver of nature loss, and protecting and restoring nature is crucial to address climate change.

Tasmanian devil on log
© Shutterstock / Michal Pesata / WWF

13. What is the High Ambition Coalition?

The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People is an intergovernmental group of more than 100 countries. The HAC is championing a global deal for nature and people, with a key goal of protecting at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. WWF strongly supports this goal as a nature-based solution to the nature and climate crisis. This target is on the table as part of the negotiations at Biodiversity COP.

The Australian Government has set a goal of protecting 30% of land and 30% of sea by 2030.

14. What is Australia's role at Biodiversity COP?

The Australian Government has signed a global pledge endorsed by more than 90 countries committing them to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. This includes efforts to reduce deforestation, halt unsustainable fishing practices and eliminate the dumping of plastic waste in oceans.

Biodiversity COP represents an opportunity for Australian leaders to step up and deliver on this opportunity. Australia has a seat at the table to establish a Paris-style agreement for nature, and we can help lead the global effort to put nature on the path to recovery.

15. What can you do?

With your help, we’re calling on leaders to agree to ambitious goals so we can reverse nature loss by 2030. You can email your federal representative today, telling them you want better protections for Australia’s wildlife and the places they call home.

You can also follow along on our social media channels to get all the updates from our team on-the-ground at COP15 as they work to be a voice for all our nature.