A new deal to protect nature has been agreed by almost 200 countries at the UN biodiversity summit, COP15.

The agreement – which was finalised in the early hours of Monday 19th December in Montreal, Canada – includes a global commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to protect 30% of land and oceans by the same date.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Today’s deal is an historic milestone in protecting our natural environment for future generations. I want to thank our fantastic UK team of civil servants and ministers in Montreal.”

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England said: “We must continue to call for high ambition and work together to achieve stronger outcomes for Nature, with the priority now being all about delivery in the member countries of the United Nations, including across the nations of the United Kingdom.”

Global Ocean Alliance

Thérèse Coffey urged more countries to join the more than 120 nations who already support the pledge to protect 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030 and confirmed the UK will renew its role as Chair of the Global Ocean Alliance beyond COP15.

It comes as Defra announced that £20 million in grants – worth between £250,000 and £3 million – will be made available to local organisations around the world to help tackle illegal fishing and fight marine pollution, as well as sustainably managing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protecting rare habitats and species.



Alongside this, the UK will contribute a further £17 million of aid from the Blue Planet Fund to the World Bank’s PROBLUE programme, bringing total UK support to PROBLUE to £25 million.

More funding from Defra

In addition to the announcements above, the UK announced up to £29 million to support developing countries in delivering the ‘30by30’ target and £5 million of funding for projects which showcase the work to study and restore nature across the UK Overseas Territories. Projects to benefit from the funding include:

  • Using satellite technology to monitor seabird populations in South Georgia
  • Measuring the impact of Humpback whales on Krill populations around South Georgia 

Don’t forget the ocean

There were concerns in early drafts of the COP15 agreements that the ocean was little mentioned. “If we’re to achieve 30% of land and sea protected by 2030, our ocean cannot be forgotten,” said CEO of the Marine Conservation Society, Sandy Luk on the BBC.  “When our ocean is protected, habitats can recover and support the incredible biodiversity of life in our seas.”

On the funding commitment from UK Government, Craig Bennett, CEO of Wildlife Trusts told the Guardian “It’s obviously welcome that the UK starts to think about putting money on the table, but we all know this is nothing like what’s needed – either to address the nature crisis or to unlock the diplomatic process”.

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