Press release: 14 December 2022

COP15 in deadlock as Global South stands firm on financing issues

ClientEarth lawyers react:

  • Developing countries have ‘legitimate reason’ to walk out
  • World leaders have ‘not got the memo’ on biodiversity crisis
  • Countries in atmosphere of mistrust
  • However ClientEarth sounded a note of caution that the walkouts were risking the whole deal

COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, appears in deadlock after developing countries staged a walkout during evening meetings yesterday.

The walkout was triggered by disagreements over how the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) – the plan to guide countries to protect biodiversity for the next ten years – would be financed and implemented.

ClientEarth environmental lawyer Ioannis Agapakis said: “Developing countries have a legitimate reason to walk out of the negotiations because it’s clear that without additional resources from the Global North, it won’t be feasible to deliver the goals and targets of the GBF. So far, countries’ failure to reach any kind of compromise is creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and mistrust in the room.

“This lack of trust has resulted in countries categorically refusing to commit to an ambitious Framework or any willingness take on additional action beyond business-as-usual to halt and reverse the decline of biodiversity.

“This stalemate was already apparent in the prep meetings in the lead up to COP15. But instead of finding a solution to this problem then, this issue of who will fund the fight to combat biodiversity loss has been the elephant in the room over the past week. Because of this, the COP is now in a deadlock, with the Framework’s future – and our planet’s health – hanging by a thread.

“Developing countries have valid concerns, but they are using discussions on financial support as a bargaining chip to hold all other major negotiations hostage and this has brought negotiations to a standstill.

“This is ultimately a political issue that can only really be resolved by Heads of State coming together to reach a compromise. But Heads of national governments have decided not to attend COP15, showing once again that world leaders have not got the memo on the magnitude of biodiversity crisis and its implications for the planet – and reminds us of how we got in this mess in the first place.”

The walkout was led by Brazil and was supported by Argentina, Colombia and Cameroon as well as other developing countries. After hours of unproductive discussions, the Parties requested to suspend the meeting because they were unwilling to reach consensus on the draft text until an agreement was reached on ‘resource mobilisation’ i.e. how financial investments both nationally and internationally will be increased to stop and reverse biodiversity loss.

This was the second time during this COP that developing countries have walked out of the negotiating room, the first time being in a working group meeting on the resource mobilisation issue itself.

A third walkout was also staged this morning on discussions on the monitoring framework.

It appears that until a satisfactory funding package has been agreed, the Global South is not ready to commit to agreements on several key issues – including implementation of the Framework, responsibility and transparency.

The Global North has a legal and historical responsibility to facilitate the implementation of the CBD and the Global Biodiversity Framework – from a financial and practical perspective. But developing countries seem unconvinced that the mechanisms under the CBD and the ones that are being agreed under the draft Framework will give them the financial and non-financial support they need to deliver the goals and targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.


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.