Finnish Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo (Greens) spoke with her Norwegian counterpart, Espen Barth Eide, at a plenary meeting at the UN Biodiversity Conference (Cop15) in Montreal, Canada, on 18 December 2022. Ohisalo on Monday lauded the outcome of the conference as a historic turning point for efforts to halt biodiversity loss. (Lars Hagberg – AFP / Lehtikuva)


MINISTER of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo (Greens) has expressed her delight with the breakthrough for the effort to halt biodiversity loss at the UN Biodiversity Conference (Cop15) in Montreal, Canada.

“We genuinely reached a pretty historic result, one many probably didn’t dare to expect. We were of course hoping for the best,” she was quoted saying during a remote media availability on Monday by YLE.

“We’re talking about a turning point for halting biodiversity loss globally.”

World countries agreed at the conference to both halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, to protect at least 30 per cent of all land and water areas by 2030, and restore 30 per cent of degraded terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems by 2030 – a set of goals that has been called 30 by 30. Also Finland has a long way to go to meet the goals, Ohisalo admitted according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has estimated that around 19 per cent of forest, scrublands and wastelands in the country is presently protected.

Ohisalo highlighted, though, that the protection in the context of the agreement does not necessarily exclude all economic activity. “It can refer to an area where protection is combined with commercial use or a camping site, for example,” she told.

She also called attention to the agreement on decreasing financing with a detrimental impact on the environment.

“We’ll start thinning environmentally detrimental financing briskly and, in general, try to direct financial flows to more sustainable targets so that we get rid of environmentally detrimental financing,” she was quoted saying by YLE.

World leaders have sought to reach an agreement on stopping biodiversity loss for decades: the deadline was initially set to 2010, then to 2020 and now to 2030. Ohisalo is hopeful that all countries will take the newly formed framework seriously and integrate it into all their activities in what she describes is a new reality.

“This is an important and long-awaited agreement,” she said according to the public broadcaster.

“Scientific data on the state of nature and the degradation of nature has become substantially stronger in recent years. We have a real opportunity to launch more of these measures because we’ve got data from different parts of the world. I believe we’ve taken important steps forward.”

The breakthrough came after two weeks of negotiations amid warnings from scientists that human activities are causing the sixth mass extinction event on the planet, the largest since the time of the dinosaurs. The Guardian on Monday reported that the agreement was forced through by China, the president of Cop15, ignoring calls for the establishment of a new biodiversity fund from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cameroon’s negotiator called the agreement a “fraud”, while Uganda’s said there had been a “coup d’etat” at Cop15, according to The Guardian.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT