BES response to the new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Negotiations at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP15 drew to a close in the early hours of this morning, with countries agreeing on a new deal to protect nature, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.


The new Global Biodiversity Framework contains 23 targets for the protection and restoration of biodiversity, including a target for the conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s land and water by 2030.

The BES welcomes the fact that the agreement has been reached on new targets intended to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, especially the headline commitment of effectively conserving and managing 30% of the world’s land and water. 

Mark Emmerson, BES Vice-President, said:

“Effective protected areas (PAs) have the potential to be the beating heart of nature recovery and the 30×30 global commitment offers the opportunity to revitalise the contribution that degraded ecosystems can make towards restoring biodiversity. 

“We know from a UK perspective that to effectively support nature, protected areas need to be more than just paper parks or lines on a map. For example, protected areas in the UK make up 27% of land, but the proportion that is effectively protected for nature is as low as 5%. Marine Protected Areas cover 38% of UK seas, but many are not effectively managed and are still subject to harmful fishing practices.

“It is essential that governments are held to account on the new targets. Concerningly, this is more difficult due to the vague wording of some of the targets. The failure of governments to reach the previous, pre-2020 global biodiversity targets was partly due to their wording making progress difficult to quantify. We would like to see governments set their own SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) targets to track their progress on reversing biodiversity loss.

“Specific targets will help to ensure existing and newly created protected areas deliver for nature in the long term, build ecological resilience against pressures like climate change and are effectively managed and monitored to track conservation outcomes. It will also be important to make sure enough funding is available for enforcement and monitoring.”

To effectively support nature, protected areas need to be more than just paper parks or lines on a map.

The new framework’s recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples and their role in delivering the 30×30 target is promising. From a UK perspective, new protected areas must be co-designed and delivered working closely with local communities. 

The BES also welcomes that the new framework emphasises the importance of creating well-connected systems of protected areas and incorporating other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). The land surrounding protected areas is vital to their success and protected areas cannot succeed in protecting nature without environmental policies that support nature across the wider network. 

New agricultural policies have a huge role to play in halting and biodiversity loss, and the target to reform $500 billion of environmentally-damaging subsidies, which includes those supporting unsustainable agriculture, is a promising start. In the UK, the design of post-Brexit agri-environmental schemes represents a great opportunity to make sure that farmers are rewarded for environmentally-friendly management choices that benefit biodiversity. 

What is the UK already doing to meet the new targets agreed at COP15? Find out what policies the devolved nations are working on in our COP15 briefing. To find out more about the role of protected areas in reaching the 30×30 target, read the BES report on Protected Areas and Nature Restoration.