19 December 2022
Mission accomplished at COP15: France has succeeded in sabotaging the global agreement on biodiversity
19 December 2022
France has reached its objective: to ensure that the global agreement intended to put an end to the collapse of the living world, which the 195 Member States of the Convention on Biological Diversity have just adopted in Montreal, is just window-dressing. A spectacular protection target (30% protection by 2030) without any indication of what “protected” means in practice. Before the COP, France had already succeeded in sabotaging negociations in the EU from within concerning the 10% of “strict protection” objective, even though it is the most effective measure for regenerating marine life. France has now destroyed the possibility of unifying the international community on a precise and unambiguous definition of what “protecting nature” means. This marks a dark chapter for what is left of biodiversity on Earth.
Impressive figures without any clear definition
This is a triple win for France, which represented the world’s leading maritime power in the negotiations (1) :
- No 10% objective on “strict protection”
- No definition of the 30% “protection” objective (no ban on industrial activities, no ban on destructive fisheries)
- No specific fund for biodiversity
The text, which should have aligned the definition of protection with the criteria established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for marine protected areas, places on equal footing areas supposedly “protected” and areas with “other effective conservation measures” – OECMs, also called “conserved areas”. This amalgamation removes what little force the text has. France will use it to justify its ecological imposture and avoid really protecting French waters. Today, 99.9% of French metropolitan waters can be exploited by industrial fisheries. France’s objective in Montreal was to get the world to fall in line with its hypocrisy. Mission accomplished.
A twisted text
Target 3 of the Global Biodiversity Framework to 2030 ratifies some disastrous new wording: the principle of “sustainable” exploitation in “protected” or “conserved” areas. “Knowing that the definition of sustainability in fishing has been twisted by industrial fishing labels such as the MSC, we have every reason to fear for the animals and marine ecosystems,” according to Claire Nouvian, founder of BLOOM.
The absence of objective qualitative criteria to account for this “protection” does protect one thing: the presence of industrial fishing in supposedly “protected” marine areas.
The disgraceful role of France
In a press release dated 16 December, BLOOM denounced the unprecedented duplicity of France. “That France dares to pose as a champion when it worked from within the negotiations to protect industrial lobbies and allow them to continue their destructive activities against animals and natural habitats is unacceptable,” added Claire Nouvian.
“Claiming to put an end to the collapse of the living world without ever attacking the causes and protagonists of the destruction of ecosystems, this is the remarkable feat that the 195 States gathered in Montreal have just achieved,” analyzed Swann Bommier, BLOOM’s Advocacy Officer. “The challenge was to protect 30% of the seas in order to allow for the regeneration of marine ecosystems that have suffered from decades of unbridled exploitation by industrial fishing fleets. But the “Kunming-Montreal” agreement sounds the death knell for an ambitious public policy: despite the scientific consensus on the matter, there is no mention of industrial fishing as the primary source of destruction of marine ecosystems; there is no ban on industrial activities within the marine areas in need of restoration or protection.”
In Montreal, the international community claimed to be concerned about the collapse of the living world but avoided setting the slightest requirement for implementing an effective protection and restoration of ecosystems.
Industrial fishing, which in metropolitan France spends almost half its time exploiting so-called “protected” marine areas, has won its case: this international agreement in no way calls into question its spatial hold. France has used the “High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People” to serve its own purpose.
Setting bold quantitative targets has thus become the alpha and omega of public policies: the objective of protecting 30% of marine areas has now been adopted, plain and simple. What does this entail in practice? France has an answer readily available: to do as it does, i.e. to create fake marine protected areas without any ban on destructive activities. This says a lot about the ambition of France, which has just been formally designated to host the next UN Ocean Conference in 2025.
(1) The United States has not ratified the CBD and was only present as an observer.
Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework, Target 3:
« Ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial, inland water, and of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable, and integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring that any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories.»