Members of IEMA’s biodiversity and natural capital steering group, along with key business stakeholders, joined a roundtable with the Minister for International Environment this morning to set out their expectations heading into COP15. Here, Ben Goodwin, IEMA’s Head of Policy, reflects on the key aspects of the discussion.

Sarah Mukherjee MBE, IEMA’s CEO and Mark Johnston, UKBBF Chair with the Minister for International Environment, The Rt Hon Lord Benyon, following this morning’s COP 15 roundtable
Sarah Mukherjee MBE, IEMA’s CEO and Mark Johnston, UKBBF Chair with the Minister for International Environment, The Rt Hon Lord Benyon, following this morning’s COP 15 roundtable

In early December politicians from around the world will meet in Montreal to negotiate a way forward on protecting and enhancing the planet’s biodiversity. This will be the fifteenth (COP15) of such meetings as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

It works much in the same way as the COP process does for climate change, with the overarching objective for countries to find common ground and agree on a series of targets that will safeguard the natural environment over the long-term.

IEMA has produced a briefing document for the negotiations, which can be found here.

At this morning’s roundtable, which was attended by stakeholders from the built environment sector, consulting and finance, plus members of the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum, a range of desired outcomes were put to the Minister, The Rt Hon Lord Benyon.

Chief among these was that real progress is required on the Post-2020 Global Diversity Framework, so that the targets contained within it are appropriately ambitious, with clear plans for their delivery also considered.

On the specific target for business (target 15) the feeling was that this should focus on driving the private sector towards more sustainable methods of production and increasing its positive impacts on the natural environment.

Whilst it was acknowledged that current geopolitics is causing a fraught environment for international negotiations to take place in, it was equally evident that attendees felt that the UK was well positioned to take a leadership role.

This was something that the Minister pointed out was already happening through the UK’s pivotal role in setting up the High Ambition Coalition (HAC). The HAC is an intergovernmental group that aims to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030.

Overall the framework targets should recognise that businesses operating in different areas of the economy are not homogeneous. They are different in terms of size and in their capability in relation to understanding biodiversity. Whatever is agreed in Montreal, will require businesses and governments to work together closely in order to develop the right policy and regulatory conditions for success.

It is also fundamental that SMEs are well catered for in terms of the outcomes of the negotiations. In the UK SMEs deliver the overwhelming majority of private sector activity, so ensuring that their role in contributing to biodiversity is appropriate is key.

As an aside to the roundtable, IEMA has produced a high-level thought piece on guiding principles for environmental policymaking, which considers how government and business should work together in the pursuit of effective policymaking for the natural environment. It is primarily concerned with the UK context, but its recommendations are also transferable internationally and globally.

Today’s discussions were the third in IEMA’s series of policy roundtables, with shadow ministers having joined us for previous sessions focused on green skills and levelling up. In the new year, we will be running further sessions with government to explore the next steps for delivering the commitments laid out in the Environment Act.

To find out more get in touch at [email protected].

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, IEMA, IEMA

Ben is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy, practice and public affairs activities across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.