On the morning of 13 December, after two intense weeks of work, the new Global Stocktake (GST) – the outcome of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP) – was unanimously approved in Dubai. Why is this document so important, and what role does nature play in action against the climate crisis?

Once a year, the 198 countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) come together to define the key points of the global climate agenda. Since the first edition, the objective of the COP has been to prevent the consequences of human activities on the climate by promoting a dialogue between governments, intergovernmental organisations and civil society. This makes it possible to monitor the effects of the measures taken by the Parties, i.e. the countries involved and the progress made. Usually, each COP ends with ratifying a pact, just like the one signed in Paris in 2015: the global management framework to limit the rise in temperatures and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The first step towards a fossil fuel-free future

The buzzword has been ‘ecological transition’ for the past two weeks, although the context could have been more favourable. The United Arab Emirates bases its profits on fossil fuels, acknowledged as a major cause of the climate crisis. 

These resistances are visible in the signed agreement: there is no talk of ‘phase out’ but of ‘transition towards phasing out’ of fossil fuels. This, on a global level, translates into a commitment to eliminate emissions by 2050. Therefore, financial support will be essential to transition to a fair and equitable economy, especially to developing countries. 

According to the Director General of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, the commitment to renewables, efficiency, and methane fills only 30% of the gap to the 2030 climate targets. What other actions are essential to put in place?

The preservation of biodiversity is crucial to address the climate crisis

If including the fight against climate change in political and media agendas is complex, then raising awareness about biodiversity loss and its devastating environmental consequences is even more challenging. This task falls to another COP, the UN Conference of the Parties on Biodiversity, which features the same countries that have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In 2022, the COP approved the Kunmig-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework , which looks to 2030 to restore 30%  of degraded ecosystems, conserve and protect 30%  of land and sea areas, and restore biodiversity almost entirely by 2050.

Biodiversity plays a fundamental role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, thus, in our survival. Several organisations committed to building a nature-positive future came together under three crucial demands at the Nature Positive Pavilion  in Dubai: 

  • End deforestation and halt the degradation of land, freshwater and ocean ecosystems
  • Secure the tenure and protection of Indigenous and local communities’ territories
  • Urgently mobilise financial resources and mechanisms to close the nature funding gap

Climate, nature and people

These issues were addressed across the board in several panels on a full day and finally included in the recently approved final agreement. The United Arab Emirates Presidency of COP28, the People’s Republic of China Presidency of COP15 and 16 other countries also endorsed the COP28 Joint Declaration on Climate, Nature and People. This represents a call for accelerated concrete action on climate and nature and enshrines the signatory nations’ commitment to strengthen collaboration through shared goals. The climate crisis, biodiversity loss and land degradation are phenomena to tackle together, coherently and scientifically.

The recently approved agreement emphasizes the importance of nature and the need to protect it. It stresses the need to ensure the integrity of all ecosystems, protect biodiversity, and address the climate crisis and biodiversity loss as interconnected issues.

For this reason, it is crucial to promote synergies in the planning and implementing of national climate, biodiversity and land restoration plans and strategies, and the importance of recovering climate and nature funding and investments from all available sources, including national budgets.

What can companies do for nature? 

Among the requests of the Nature Positive Pavilion, also reflected in the joint declaration published during the COP, is the urgent need to mobilise resources to finance nature restoration and conservation. This is the responsibility of the governments of individual states but also an opportunity for companies who can play a key role in restoring biodiversity and combating the climate crisis. This is one of the key points of the Global Biodiversity Framework that took shape during the European Business and Biodiversity Summit. The conference organised in October 2023 by the European Commission in Milan, saw Etifor as co-organiser together with the Lombardy Region and the Forum for Sustainable Finance. In this framework, we funded the Italian Business@Biodiversity Working Group to allow Italian companies to contribute concretely to a nature-positive future, shedding light on the economic importance of biodiversity, promoting public-private partnerships and aligning corporate strategies with international best practices. 

Are you a company, and would you like to embark on a nature-positive journey? Discover our LUCAS approach

Photo credits: Florian Kriechbaumer via Wikimedia Commons