Cop15 summit: DRC drops objections to seal deal on historic action on biodiversity

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, and its objections raised the prospect of legal challenges

A once-in-a-decade deal to halt the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems finally won full support at Cop15 in Montreal on Monday after the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) dropped its opposition.

Earlier on Monday, Ève Bazaiba, the DRC’s environment minister, threatened to throw the integrity of the historic UN biodiversity agreement into doubt just hours after it was signed, when China’s summit president appeared to ignore her country’s objections to the text and forced it through.

But on Monday evening, just before the final plenary, the Chinese Cop15 president, Huang Runqiu, approached Bazaiba to shake her hand in an apparent apology – to the applause of the entire conference hall at the Palais des congrès– and she later gave a speech in which she congratulated the Chinese environment minister on the deal, acknowledging it had passed. The DRC’s concerns over finance will be registered as part of the final report of the Cop.

#Cop15 president Huang Runqiu enters the plenary and shakes hands with the DRC environment minister @Evebazaiba

I think that was the moment the post-2020 was finally agreed. The plenary applauded.

Merry Christmas everyone

— Patrick Greenfield (@pgreenfielduk) December 19, 2022

It came after intense negotiations on the plenary floor between the big three rainforest nations – Brazil, Indonesia and the DRC – who signed a cooperation agreement at the G20 last month for their conservation, dubbed the “Opec of rainforests”.

The Brazilian head of delegation, Leonardo Cleaver de Athayde, could be heard encouraging the DRC minister to soften her opposition to the agreement in a huddle. Once convinced, they posed with the lead Indonesian negotiator, holding hands and smiling.

Speaking to the Guardian on Monday morning, Bazaiba had said she did not support the deal, throwing into doubt action on targets to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030, reform $500bn (£410bn) of environmentally damaging subsidies, and take urgent action on extinction. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, home to a large chunk of the Congo basin rainforest.

The objection raised the possibility of legal challenges to the process, a potentially disastrous outcome for action on biodiversity loss. Her objections had the support of DRC civil society groups, who are calling for more money for conservation.

Following the rapprochement, Prescilia Monireh from the Indigenous organisation ANAPAC in DRC, said: “We are confident that the DRC government will implement the agreement, securing the important rainforests in Central Africa and securing Indigenous people’s territorial rights. We do however support DRC’s call for more financial support, structured in a way that allows Indigenous people to access the money. This has proven very difficult with the current funding mechanisms.”

Find more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features


Patrick Greenfield and Phoebe Weston in Montreal

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cop15: historic deal struck to halt biodiversity loss by 2030
Agreement on ’30 by 30’ target forced through by Chinese president, ignoring objections from African states

Patrick Greenfield and Phoebe Weston in Montreal

19, Dec, 2022 @10:46 AM

Article image
Canada and China prepare to open Cop15 biodiversity summit despite rifts
Ministers and experts say disputes between co-hosts unlikely to disrupt efforts to reach deal on protecting natural world

Leyland Cecco in Toronto

04, Dec, 2022 @11:15 AM

Article image
Stop burning trees to make energy, say 650 scientists before Cop15 biodiversity summit
Letter says bioenergy is wrongly deemed ‘carbon neutral’ and contributes to wildlife loss

Phoebe Weston

05, Dec, 2022 @9:30 AM

Article image
Montreal to host delayed Cop15 summit to halt ‘alarming’ global biodiversity loss
Experts warn ambitious targets for nature must be agreed at UN meeting, moved from China to Canada after two-year wait

Patrick Greenfield

21, Jun, 2022 @9:55 AM

Article image
‘Embrace history’: UN environment chief calls for immediate action on Cop15 deal
Inger Andersen said we must not ‘pause for a second’ as we ‘change the relationship between people and nature’

Patrick Greenfield

20, Dec, 2022 @6:39 PM

Article image
Cop15 essential reading: seven books that explain the biodiversity crisis
Ahead of December’s conference our writers select titles that explain the issues at stake, from animal extinction to marine degradation and loss of habitat

Guardian writers

28, Nov, 2022 @9:30 AM

Article image
Cop15: what are the key targets for the biodiversity agreement?
Countries are negotiating a framework that will cover issues from pesticides to plastic, from soil to human-wildlife contact

Patrick Greenfield in Montreal

10, Dec, 2022 @8:30 AM

Article image
Cop15: ‘World leaders might have to invite themselves’ to summit
In its role as president, China has sent invitations only to ministers and NGO heads, raising fears it is downplaying the crucial talks

Patrick Greenfield

06, Oct, 2022 @2:35 PM

Article image
UN’s Kunming biodiversity summit delayed a second time
Covid pandemic continues to hamper plans for key gathering to agree targets on protecting nature

Patrick Greenfield

19, Mar, 2021 @12:30 AM

Article image
Cop15 in Montreal: did the summit deliver for the natural world?
The talking is over, and a text has been agreed on the next decade of targets to save the natural world. Here are the highs and lows of the Convention of Biological Diversity’s (CBD) agreement

Phoebe Weston

20, Dec, 2022 @2:51 PM