MONTREAL — Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says there’s been agreement on one of Canada’s main goals at the international conference in Montreal aimed at protecting the world’s declining biodiversity.
Guilbeault says the more than 190 nations at the COP15 meeting have agreed that Indigenous people must be fully consulted on conservation moves and play a role in how those decisions are made.
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He says delegates have also agreed that women should have equitable access and benefits from conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The agreements have not yet been formally adopted by the conference.
The plan for Indigenous involvement checks off one of the items that Canada listed as a priority coming into the meetings.
Guilbeault acknowledged on Thursday that negotiations, which began last weekend before the conference officially opened, aren’t advancing as fast as he’d like.
“It’s progressing, it’s rarely progressing fast enough for my taste, but things are moving forward,” he said. “I remain very optimistic.”
Other major goals include a commitment to preserving 30 per cent of the world’s land and water by 2030 and halting the decline of ecosystems around the globe.
Delegates have also discussed the role that the private sector can play in conserving biodiversity, including how current industrial and agricultural subsidies degrade environmental values.
The conference has created a small city within Montreal, with 17,000 delegates and about 900 accredited journalists. Many off-site events are also being held.
Advocates hope that the meeting results in an agreement equivalent to the one reached in Paris in 2015, which established hard targets for countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change and biodiversity are closely related, they say. Scientific studies have concluded that meeting climate targets will be impossible without preserving ecosystems that store massive amounts of carbon.
The meeting lasts until Dec. 19.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.