COP15 – Protecting biodiversity worldwide


"When I see a seal that is injured by plastic, it really breaks my heart how we treat our planet" says Colette, a volunteer working on the coast of Belgium to protect sea life. Biodiversity is at stake and the threat is human-caused. This week, world leaders gathered virtually to kick off the first phase of the Convention of Biological Diversity, that will convene again in April 2022 to agree on a new set of goals for nature over the next decade.

Continued biodiversity loss represents a huge toll on our ecosystems and way of living. Changes in food production or spread of diseases from animals to humans are some of the immediate effects of biodiversity loss. The latest IPCC report showcases a clear link between climate related changes and human actions, indicating the possibility to revert these effects if joint action is now taken.

From all corners of the world, national leaders have gathered virtually for the first part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) this week, leading to the second segment of the conference, a physical meeting in Kunming from 25 April to 8 May 2022 which should see the adoption of a global biodiversity framework. The conference aims to raise global awareness on the situation and to reach stronger commitments and urgent joint action to combat the degradation of biodiversity.

Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission adopted its EU Biodiversity Strategy last year, which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. It commits to establishing a larger EU-wide network of effectively managed protected areas covering 30% of land and 30% of sea, with one third of this area strictly protected. The Strategy also sets out a wide range of commitments and measures aimed at restoring nature, enabling the necessary transformational change and expresses the Commission's determination to mobilise all tools of external action and international partnerships to help develop and implement an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework.


Together to protect Marine Life

Throughout this year, the EU has raised awareness for the issue of biodiversity loss even through the grassroots campaign #EUBeachCleanup which focused on the theme of protecting marine biodiversity, and stories were collected from around the world showing how marine organisms are suffering from exposure to damaging human action.


From Belgium, Colette shared the story of Simba, a seal found on the coast of the country. Like many other animals, Simba struggled with a piece of plastic that was constraining his everyday actions and could eventually put an end to his life. The presence of these items in lakes, seas and oceans around the world is caused by human action.

"It’s kind of hard seeing an animal in such a shape, where it’s fairly badly injured because of the pollution in the sea," Michelle shares her feelings after having followed the developments of Simba in the SeaLife centre. Watch the Simba's story


Unfortunately, this is not an isolated story. On the coast of Mauritius, adult sperm whales are victims of human activities, such as ship strikes, entanglements in nets, waterborne plastic pollution and increasing noise pollution. There are also non-lethal threats such as habitat loss due to increased vessel traffic and its generated noise and offshore commercial activities encroaching on their feeding or breeding grounds.

A dive with sperm whales - Read the full story


These two stories from within and beyond Europe, illustrate a problem, to which many around the world have shown their sensitivity. The #EUBeachCleanup campaign was present in more than 50 countries, with citizens taking part in clean-up actions, and it has shown that local actions can become a global movement for a better cause.


EU position on the protection of biodiversity

The same energy and motivation is transposed to the EU’s position on the protection of biodiversity and our planet at large.

The EU together with political leaders from all regions launched the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for sustainable development. The pledge, supported by the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People made up of 70 countries including the EU, and numerous non-state actors, sends “a united signal” to step up global ambition for biodiversity, nature, climate, and people, with a target focused on the protection of at least 30% of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030, which has been coined the '30x30' target.

In the run-up to COP 15, the European Commission has formed the Global Coalition United for Diversity, bringing together more than 250 institutions from more than 50 countries. The Coalition calls for stronger mobilisation in raising awareness about protecting biodiversity.


At the High Level event on Transformative Action for Nature and People during the UN General Assembly in September, European Commission President von der Leyen reiterated the announcement she had previously made within her State of the Union speech, that the European Union will double its external funding for biodiversity, in particular for the most vulnerable countries, showing leadership which must now be matched by countries and institutions across the globe. Further negotiations for a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework also progressed throughout this event.


In its second phase COP 15 is expected to adopt an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, with impactful actions on the protection of our planet. The EU’s points at the negotiating table include:

  • Overarching global goals for biodiversity for 2050 that will aim for all of the world’s ecosystems to be restored, resilient, and adequately protected
  • Ambitious global 2030 targets in line with EU commitments in the EU Biodiversity Strategy, such as the protection of at least 30% of land and 30% of the seas globally and sustainable use and management of the remaining 70%.
  • A much stronger implementation, monitoring and review process
  • An enabling framework to bring the ambition to life, across areas such as finance, capacity, research, innovation and technology
  • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources linked to biodiversity
  • A principle of equality, based on an inclusive approach with participation of all stakeholders and indigenous peoples

See also