Global Governance Institute


Global Biodiversity Governance: Towards a "Paris Moment"?

5 December 2022

Ahead of a major international conference on halting the loss of nature, this policy brief explores the current state of play in global biodiversity governance.

Coral Reef_Chris Reyem_Unsplash

By Julia Kreienkamp and Tom Pegram, UCL Global Governance Institute

Human-driven biodiversity loss is increasingly recognised as a potentially catastrophic global-scale risk. A 2019 landmark assessment report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded that species and ecosystems are declining at rates “unprecedented in human history.” This trend is driven by multiple, interrelated forces, from agricultural expansion, deforestation and other changes in land and sea use, to direct exploitation of natural resources, climate change, pollution, and the introduction of new invasive alien species. Scientists are warning that we are entering a sixth mass extinction, with the scale and speed of species loss comparable only to five events in pre-human history, the last of which wiped out the dinosaurs.

The accelerating loss of biodiversity is not just an ecological disaster. United Nations (UN) Secretary‑General António Guterres has warned that humanity is waging a “suicidal war against nature” which it cannot hope to win, as the deterioration of terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems undermines human health, well-being, and prosperity. Amongst other impacts, biodiversity loss threatens global water and food security, it facilitates the spread of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, it reduces the potential of future medical discoveries, and it jeopardises our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change, which in turn puts additional stress on ecosystems. Ultimately, the mutually reinforcing twin risks of global warming and ecological collapse threaten the very foundations of our economic and social systems. 

2022 could become a crucial year for global biodiversity protection. It is hoped that a new framework for action under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) will be agreed at the COP-15 biodiversity conference, which takes place from 7 to 19 December in Montreal, Canada, under the presidency of China. Those pushing for a successful outcome have called upon COP-15 to deliver a “Paris moment for nature,” with reference to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which has been widely celebrated as a major breakthrough of diplomacy. Hopes for a historic milestone agreement on biodiversity are qualified, however, by the resounding failure to implement previous global targets to protect nature. With the final negotiations on the new global biodiversity framework about to kick off, this policy brief provides a snapshot mapping of the existing governance landscape in this space. In doing so, it also highlights the complexities that have stymied more decisive political action on biodiversity conservation despite the fundamental importance of nature for virtually all aspects of our lives.

The full report is available here: