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By Pete Davidson, Senior Conservation Advisor, Birds Canada


An ever-darkening cloud with a fragmented silver lining. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th conference of the parties (COP26) was a failure to many island, developing, and vulnerable nations, and to their endemic wildlife. With a powerful fossil-fuel lobby outnumbering any other delegation, the process could be considered flawed from the outset and certainly reflects the desperately disappointing state of political will today. That said, there were some important advances.

Perhaps most significant among the positives is that nature is finally recognized as critical to climate action and ambition. BirdLife International and a broad coalition of allies, including many BirdLife Partners in Europe, worked tirelessly to ensure nature plays a central role. The final Glasgow Climate Pact statement cites the critical and complementary role nature plays, and the need for nature to be integrated into national climate policy and planning. To learn more, read a reflective blog post by Melanie Heath, BirdLife International’s Global Director of Science, Policy, and Information.

Photo: Kiara Worth/UNFCCC

Canada’s new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, announced a $5.3 billion international climate finance commitment over the next five years, of which 20% will go to nature-based solutions in developing countries to simultaneously tackle biodiversity loss. That means well-directed financing could help safeguard habitats and ecosystems that Canadian-breeding birds rely on farther south during the majority of their annual cycle.

Photo: Kiara Worth/UNFCCC

COP26 has further galvanized and grown the community of public and civil society actors, like BirdLife International, bringing climate and environmental activists closer together. Whilst the wait for leaders to lead goes on, Indigenous and youth leadership was a standout. We are extremely fortunate to have strong, growing Indigenous leadership in Canada because Indigenous-led conservation represents one of the largest contributions to reducing the impacts of climate change globally. The job over the year ahead involves supporting these leaders and calling for ambitious target-setting at next year’s climate COP in Egypt. At the same time, the BirdLife alliance will push for a robust post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 in China next May, continuing to connect joint actions to combat the climate and nature crises.

Photo: Kiara Worth/UNFCCC

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