COP15 Recap: The Power to Change the Planet is with Cities

Urban Systems Lab Director Dr. Timon McPhearson and Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Loan Diep participated in the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montréal, December 7–19, 2022. The meeting brought together governments from over 190 countries to discuss new climate goals and develop an action plan for conserving biodiversity over the next decade.

McPhearson and Diep participated in several panel discussions including “BiodiverCities: Latin American cities at the Forefront of Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Action” organized by the World Economic Forum at the ICLEI Subnational Governments & Cities Pavilion; as well as the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities organized by ICLEI.

At the UN-CBD CBO II session, “Cities and Biodiversity Outlook II Project: Building a pathway to integrating biodiversity into policy and practice in cities” McPhearson and Diep discussed the launch of NATURA’s Global Roadmap for Urban Nature-Based Solutions. The Roadmap will assess knowledge, challenges, and opportunities for innovation in research and practice within and across the world regions.

The science is clear that this is the critical decade for climate change and for biodiversity. — Dr. Timon McPhearson

On the final day of the meeting, Huang Runqiu, President of the COP 15 and Minister of Ecology and Environment of China announced a historic pledge to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030 (popularly known as 30 by 30). The pledge is called the Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework.

Currently, only ~17% of land and 10% of oceans are currently considered protected. Executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Elizabeth Maruma Mrema explained, “Our planet is in crisis… Clearly, the world is crying out for change” at a press conference preceding the meeting.

The deal also calls for raising $200 billion by 2030 for biodiversity from a range of sources and working to phase out or reform subsidies that could provide another $500 billion for nature. Many however caution that this pledge is not sufficient to address the mounting threats to biodiversity and global well-being, noting the framework does not address the primary drivers of biodiversity loss such as agriculture, fisheries, and infrastructure.

To learn more about the historic biodiversity pledge, take a look at this article from the Guardian, “Cop15: key points of the nature deal at a glance”.



Resilience Quarterly is a publication co-produced by the Urban Systems Lab at the New School, providing a unique forum to share strategies in design, data visualization, and interdisciplinary scholarship on urban ecology, environmental justice, and sustainable cities.

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