March 2, 2024

Exactly one year after the World Nature Convention in Montreal (Canada), some wisdom speaks

© Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/AP/dpa

Exactly one year after the Global Conservation Agreement was signed in Montreal (Canada), some scientists continue to talk about a milestone for global nature conservation. But there is also criticism. Funding for the first projects is now available. According to experts, the balance sheet for Germany is relaxed.

Nature works badly

Biodiversity is shrinking drastically. Drivers include the expansion of cities, the conversion of natural areas into pastures and cultivated areas, environmental pollution and population growth along with climate change. At the World Environment Summit in Montreal on December 19, 2022, 200 countries agreed on 23 targets, including 23, to be achieved by 2030. It’s about reclaiming nature and using it more sustainably. What progress has been made so far?

First funding is available

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is making significant progress in financing nature conservation. “The establishment of the Global Conservation Fund in August is an important step in mobilizing the necessary resources,” said David Ainsworth, spokesman for the conference of the Biodiversity Secretariat. Nearly 200 countries participated in the 1993 convention.

Germany paid 40 million euros into the fund in September. With contributions from Canada and the UK, more than $200 million is in the pot and the fund can now begin work. In early 2024, a decision will be made on the first projects to be funded throughout the year. At the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2022, President Olaf Scholz made a lot of promises: Germany will provide 1.5 billion euros annually for international biodiversity protection from 2025.

This funding was one of the goals of the World Environment Summit until 2030. Poor countries will receive $20 billion annually by 2025 and $30 billion annually by 2030. Further targets by 2030: At least 30 percent of the world’s land and sea areas must be placed under conservation. How the areas were to be “effectively protected” remained unclear. Another 30 percent areas are to be rehabilitated. Halve the risk to people and the environment from pesticides and chemicals and eliminate $500 billion in environmentally harmful subsidies.

There was no enthusiastic mood among the defenders

Environmental organization WWF Germany sees little reason to celebrate.
Not enough money flows to countries in the Global South. “If even a rich industrial country like Germany does not deliver the promised money, the formally agreed goals will evaporate,” said Florian Ditze, a WWF expert on international politics. “Nature does not care about the budget and the debt ceiling. With the loss of trust, the Earth’s biodiversity, on which all people’s livelihoods depend, is at risk.

And in Germany?

Kathryn Boehning-Kaes, professor of ecology at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, and Matthias Klabrecht, professor of biodiversity at the University of Hamburg, continue to describe the agreement as a milestone overall. But in Germany they see little progress.

“At this time, defenses in German-held areas were generally not very effective,” Böhning-Gaese said. “Only 25 percent of species and 30 percent of habitats in flora-fauna-habitat areas are in good conservation status.” Glaubrecht believes that Germany has difficulty with strict protection of nature. The debate over the creation of a Baltic Sea National Park in Fehmarn has shown this again.

“Even when it comes to removing environmentally harmful subsidies – like abolishing the reduced VAT on flights and meat – Germany also promised in Montreal, nothing more is happening than talk. I don’t see any really effective efforts from the central government to implement the goals of the International Convention on Nature in a timely manner.

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