Press release: 18 December 2022

COP15: Draft agreement ‘does not embody promised Paris moment for nature’ – ClientEarth

ClientEarth lawyers react to draft in its current form:

  • Agreement ‘moot’ without implementation mechanism
  • Human rights remain ‘symbolic mention’
  • Only time will tell how 30x30 target will play out
  • Lawyers urge final, all-important changes before Global Biodiversity Framework is finalised

After almost two weeks of negotiations, and three years of preparation, the Chinese Presidency of COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), has published a draft agreement – now called the ‘Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’.

Environmental lawyers at ClientEarth have said that the draft agreement needs several key changes before being concretised – or it could make the same mistakes as its predecessor.

ClientEarth lawyer Ioannis Agapakis said: “The draft agreement is far from the transformative framework we need to tackle the biodiversity crisis head-on.

“While the thorniest issues have been tentatively resolved, overall, the Presidency’s text errs on the lowest level of ambition for many of the goals and targets under the GBF – and this approach will fail nature. What’s clear is that the text has been decided, not on the basis of scientific urgency, but by the allure of business as usual.

“If this is the final text, then this COP will not be the ‘Paris moment for nature’ that was promised.”

Implementation mechanism

“The draft agreement omits the factor that would make it work in practice: an effective implementation mechanism. This agreement will be moot if it doesn’t include strong and comprehensive processes to implement, monitor and review progress towards reaching the GBF’s goals and targets, so that there is transparency and ways for Parties to progressively increase action over time. If these elements aren’t included, the Framework is doomed to repeat the same mistakes as its predecessor.”


“It is very positive that 30x30 made the cut – and maintained much of its proposed substance. But we’re concerned that only time will tell how it plays out.

“Firstly, we need to see clarity on how this percentage looks in practice – it should mean 30% of the world’s land and 30% of its ocean spaces are protected.

“Indigenous peoples initially wanted their territories to be formally included as a pathway to choosing the areas that will comprise the 30% – but it’s currently unclear whether this is the case. The text does currently mention ‘recognising’ those territories – which could strengthen tenure rights.

“Additionally, we still believe that including the term ‘sustainable use’ may lead to a perverse interpretation and implementation of the Target on the ground – namely, continued exploitation of land that must be conserved. This is particularly so given that there is currently no explicit ban on environmentally damaging activities in areas covered by the Target.”

Human rights

“Another faux pas in the framework is the absence of any mention of the right to a healthy environment and inter-generational equity in any of the goals and targets – it appears only in some of the general areas of the text.

“This political decision means human rights will seemingly remain a symbolic mention as it won’t be possible to monitor how Parties are doing when it comes to respecting, protecting and fulfilling those rights.”

The final agreement

“The current draft does not contain the bare minimum that we would expect if we are to stand any chance of fighting and reversing biodiversity loss over the next 10 years and beyond. We are in real danger of committing ourselves and the planet to a bleak and frightening future. In the coming hours, Parties have a final opportunity to improve the text with targeted changes – and start to write ours and the planet’s future.”

All quotes are from ClientEarth lawyer Ioannis Agapakis.


Notes to editors:

The Chinese Presidency’s document is considered decisive for the outcome of the conference. Individual changes to the text are still, in theory, possible. However, Parties now face a choice: to approve the project or to reject it. Parties need to unanimously agree for the new 'Kunming-Montreal Global Framework Agreement on Biodiversity' to be adopted.

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.