Why Care About COP15?

By Dannie Piezas, National Communications Officer

November 16, 2022

For ordinary folks like you and me, global conventions can be tricky to follow. Case in point, we have two back-to-back COPs at the end of this year—a COP27 followed by a COP15!

At the time of this writing, delegations are currently meeting at Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt for the UN Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) COP27. Then in December, Montreal, Canada hosts the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th COP meeting (hence, CBD COP15).

Let’s back up a moment. Climate change has captured global attention in recent years, but why care about biological diversity?

What is Biological Diversity?

Biological Diversity (or biodiversity) is the variety of life at all levels on our planet—from microorganisms to megafauna, from genes to whole ecosystems.

“It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides a large number of goods and services that sustain our lives.”

Convention on Biological Diversity, “Sustaining Life on Earth”

Sometimes used to refer simply to the wide variety of species that exist, biodiversity encompasses far more than this count! Nevertheless, species declines are indicative of losses in other levels, being intertwined with genetic and ecosystem diversity. Our own human cultural diversity is closely linked to biodiversity; we form and are formed by the ecosystems we’re embedded in. We thrive when biodiversity thrives.

From the beginning, A Rocha’s identity has formed around the need to conserve biodiversity as Christian mission.

Three-headed Hydra

We are losing biodiversity all over the world at an alarming rate. While the CBD is an important legal tool to address such a prevalent and tangled issue, the fact is biodiversity loss is just one of a three-fold crisis unique to our time. 1) Biodiversity loss cannot be solved apart from 2) climate change and 3) poverty & inequality.

We also cannot get around the fact that these problems are caused by five anthropological drivers: demand for i) food, ii) water, and iii) energy and the resulting iv) infrastructure spread and v) pollution (read more about this interplay).

To tackle this three-fold crisis effectively, biodiversity must be given equal attention by leaders and policymakers.

A Christian Response

The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it
the world and those who dwell therein

(Psalm 24:1, ESV)

Before all else, we are motivated by God’s care for all life on earth, in all its variety (see “10 Reasons Why Extinction Matters to God”, pp. 12-13). We see this concern woven into the central themes of the Bible, and as Christians are called to respond by joining in God’s work in creation. We see creation care in the heart of God’s plan for redemption and renewal in serving not just animals and plants but also our fellow humans.

A Rocha hopes to be a distinctly Christian voice to support the necessary global actions to address the global problem of biodiversity loss. We hope to demonstrate and inspire Christian leadership of a large demographic that can help bring about great change in the world.

Hopes for CBD COP15

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity, first signed in 1992 by 196 nations, is a legal instrument for participating states to protect nature in law and practice. Since its signing, the COP has met every two years to review progress, set priorities, and commit to work plans.

This year’s CBD COP is particularly significant. COP15 will review the implementation of targets set in the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and decide on new targets for post-2020 (both short-term up to 2030 and long-term up to 2050). These decisions will be critical for curbing the trend on biodiversity loss by setting ambitious targets.

Delegation name plates used for the UNFCC COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. (Photo: Rick Faw)

Our Proposals

In our collective statement, the A Rocha network emphasizes 10 key points for utmost consideration in CBD COP15:

  1. Addressing all three global crises synergistically
  2. Enacting legal measures to enforce targets rather than voluntary commitments
  3. Strategizing long-term and flexible funding for biodiversity conservation
  4. Prioritising Key Biodiversity Areas in creating protected areas
  5. Prioritising threatened species through an “Emergency Measures Agenda”
  6. Halting projects in conflict with conserving biodiversity
  7. Furthering research into the consequences of biodiversity loss on human livelihoods
  8. Engaging churches and Christians
  9. Engaging local communities and Indigenous Peoples
  10. Creating specific, measurable, and achievable targets which ‘add up’ to halting biodiversity loss

What Can I Do?

The CBD is currently the best tool we have for global change across all levels of biodiversity: ecosystems, species, and genetic resources. Biodiversity touches all of our lives—including at the very least the food we eat and the air we breathe.

Responding as an individual may be daunting, but there are things we can do:

  • Prayer is the most powerful tool we have! Pray along with us.
  • Raise awareness among your friends and family about COP15, and join and amplify campaigns for biodiversity
  • Research the COP15 negotiations and follow along at www.cbd.int and their social media accounts.
Learn more

The Worldwide A Rocha Family at CBD COP15

A Rocha Canada will be in Montreal alongside other members of the A Rocha family on December 7-19 for CBD COP17.

Make sure to follow us to get updates from the ground; you can click the e-mail sign up or social media icons on your screen!

Learn more