As the world parses what was achieved at the U.N. climate change conference in Egypt, negotiators are convening in Montreal to set goals for curbing Earth's other crisis: loss of living species.
Starting Dec. 7, 2022, 196 nations that have ratified the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity will hold their 15th Conference of the Parties, or COP15. The convention, which was adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, is designed to promote sustainable development by protecting biodiversity — the variety of life on Earth, from genes up to entire ecosystems.
Today, experts widely agree that biodiversity is at risk. Because of human activities — especially overhunting, overfishing and altering land — species are disappearing from the planet at 50 to 100 times the historic rate. The United Nations calls this decline a "nature crisis."
This meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Kunming, China, in 2020 but was rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some negotiations held online. China will lead the deliberations in Montreal and will set the agenda and tone. This is the first time that Beijing has presided over a major intergovernmental meeting on the environment. As a wildlife ecologist, I am eager to see China step into a global leadership role.