Canada promises $250 million in nature conservation fund for developing countries

By The Canadian Press and Astrid Agbayani

Canada is promising another $250 million in nature conservation financing for developing countries at the UN biodiversity conference (COP-15) in Montreal.

The announcement comes as funding talk drags into the final weekend of the conference.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the funding on the sidelines of the event this afternoon. Guilbeault said this morning that the time to act is now.

“Canada knows that it can’t happen without sufficient resources in every country in the world. As we have heard loud and clear, the need for support,” Guilbeault said.

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The COP-15 meeting is scheduled to end on Monday, however, an agreement between the nations of the UN biodiversity convention remains elusive.

The deepest divide appears to be between developing countries that want to create a new global biodiversity fund and developed nations that believe the money can be channelled through the 30-year-old Global Environment Fund (GEF).

Virginijus Sinkevicus, the environment commissioner at the European Commission says talks about a new fund are misleading.

“What’s extremely important is that there is no new fund, and to negotiate a new fund it took us seven to eight years to negotiate GEF, so those talks about the new fund, I think they’re only misleading. They’re not delivering any value so far,” Sinkevicus said.

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Wealthier nations want developing nations to agree to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and marine areas by 2030, while developing nations want the wealthiest countries to come up with more cash to pay for it.

Guilbeault said the hope is that a compromise agreement will be ready by Sunday, a day before the meeting is supposed to end. But the financial issue still looms large, with estimates suggesting $700-billion U-S a year is needed to properly conserve nature.

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