The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held in Montréal, Quebec, from December 7 to 19. This international summit brought together thousands of delegates representing 192 countries to develop a global framework to safeguard nature and halt and reverse biodiversity loss to ensure a “nature positive” future by 2050. Featuring over 20,000 delegates, COP15 was recognized as the largest-ever UN environmental conference and included valuable participation from government agencies, international organizations, civil society, academia, the corporate sector, Indigenous peoples, and local communities.

Following two weeks of deliberations, the historic Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework was officially adopted. This landmark deal includes four long-term goals and 23 action-oriented targets to “put nature on a path to recovery for the benefit of people and planet” (Convention on Biological Diversity, 2022). Within this commitment, parties agreed to protect and conserve at least 30 per cent of lands and waters by 2030.

In support with this international initiative, the Canadian government has signed onto the so called “30 x 30” protection target. This is an ambitious commitment considering current national terrestrial and marine protected and conserved area is situated at 13.5 per cent and 13.9 per cent, respectively.

Highly relevant to CCEAs mission concerning protected and conserved areas, CCEA will monitor “30 x 30” policy and programming initiatives throughout Canada and strive to provide meaningful recommendations to encourage the development of a comprehensive and effective network of protected and conserved areas.

CCEA Directors Jacques Perron, Dr. Christopher Lemieux, and Tatyana Feiner, attended COP15 to provide input on various deliberations, monitor the progress of Canadian biodiversity policy and programming more broadly, and to acquire valuable knowledge from the many organizations and individuals who attended the event.

As the host nation, the Government of Canada released a variety of new commitments concerned with safeguarding biodiversity, expanding protected and conserved areas, and advancing Indigenous-led conservation. Various initiatives announced at COP15 relevant to CCEA’s mission included the following:

  • The Canadian government has committed $800 million over seven years to support four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives throughout Canada. In specific, the government of Canada has shown support in establishing protected areas in the Northwest Territories, the Northernshelf Bioregion in British Columbia, the Qikiqtani Region in Nunavut, and the Hudson Bay Lowlands in Ontario. Through a Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) funding model, which is based on partnership, the programming will bring together Indigenous organizations, government, and the local community to effectively manage the conservation initiative, identify shared goals for protecting nature, and work towards halting and reversing biodiversity loss throughout the region.
  • The Canada-Yukon Nature Agreement was established to advance nature conservation and protection across the territory. Identified as the first agreement of its kind, the $20.6 million environmental initiative aims to support Indigenous leadership in conservation by increasing the protection of sensitive habitats, provide recovery actions for species at risk, and protect and conserve new land in the Yukon. The overall goal is to protect and/or conserve an additional 6 percent of Yukon’s natural environment to achieve 25% by 2025.
  • The Canadian government introduced the first ever First Nations National Guardians Network program, which aims to connect First Nation Guardians initiatives across the country to encourage and strengthen self-determination using a Nation-to-Nation based model of reconciliation based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership (Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2021) as the foundation for transformative change throughout Indigenous territories.
  • Four Manitoba First Nations are leading a new partnership with the provincial and federal government to preserve the Seal River Watershed. Spanning over 50,000 square kilometres, the region has been identified as one of the largest ecologically intact watersheds on the planet. The Seal River Watershed Alliance has been constructed to encourage the creation of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area throughout northwestern Manitoba.
  • The province of Nova Scotia announced that it will be investing an additional $20 million to help further protect its lands and waters through the Land Legacy Trust.  An additional 9,300 hectares of Crown Land will be designated as protected areas to advance Nova Scotia’s target of protecting 20 percent of land and water by 2030.
  • The province of New Brunswick announced that it will protect an additional 277,900 hectares of Crown land to achieve its goal of protecting 10 percent of lands and freshwater.
  • The government of Quebec reiterated its commitment to achieve the global target of protecting and conserving 30 percent of its landmass by 2030. Through the Nature 2030 Plan, $650 million will be allocated to implement measures to conserve the natural environment, support Indigenous conservation initiatives, improve biodiversity, and increase the accessibility of nature for all Quebecers.

Of interest to the CCEA, the Canadian government committed to conserving 30 percent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2030 to combat climate change and reverse biodiversity loss by increasing and expanding protected ecological areas throughout the nation. Recognition of the synergies associated between the two crises is crucial to ensure protected and conserved areas throughout Canada remain healthy, intact, and provide essential ecosystem services to the natural environment and society. The CCEA looks forward to monitoring progress concerning biodiversity conservation and climate mitigation throughout Canada and will strive to provide informative recommendations regarding best practices to encourage progressive and systematic policy and programming throughout the nation’s protected and conserved areas.

Reflection of COP15 from CCEA: Looking Ahead

Overall, CCEA delegates found the conference to be highly informative and productive, and CCEA members are very encouraged with the outcome of the proceedings committing the global community to substantially advance efforts on biodiversity conservation. The significant charge set by COP 15 with the 30 x 30 target now in place for protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, coupled with many complementary conservation targets, sets a clear path forward for Canada to extend its previous efforts toward meeting the Aichi biodiversity conservation targets beginning with the implementation of the substantial initiatives announced by Canada over the course of the conference.

The timing of COP 15 is of special relevance following so closely on COP 27 focused on UN climate change negotiations and the release in November 2022 of the public consultation document- Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy – which prescribes strategies for Canadians to forge resilient communities and a strong economy to counter the impacts of climate change (Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2022). Clearly there are substantial inter-relationships between climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the agenda for biodiversity conservation set out with COP15 will now enable fuller recognition and support for PCAs, IPCAs and CCAs as important cornerstones to help with mitigating the impacts of climate change on both Canada’s biodiversity and its social and economic fabric.

In another sense, the timing of COP 15 and COP 27 have special relevance for CCEA with both being staged during CCEA’s 40th Anniversary. Leading off its mission with partners and associates over the past 40 years through the staging of conferences and the completion of many workshops, projects and publications on protecting and conserving ecological areas, the outcome of COP 15 is especially gratifying for CCEA, partner organizations and associates. With CCEA’s 2020-2030 Strategic Framework reflecting the spirit of many actions and measures issuing from COP 15, CCEA is looking forward to its 5th decade of collaborative conservation efforts to assist with achieving the high aspirations set by COP 15 and Canada’s early response to meet the global targets.

While CCEA is interested and prepared to assist in many aspects of establishing, protecting and managing ecological areas for biodiversity conservation, efforts on ecological representation, ensuring high standards for protection, delivering effective management, and adopting innovative approaches to advance this work are of special interest. With careful attention to selecting and designing PCAs, IPCAs and CCAs, resilient networks of sites can be created to effectively represent and protect the wide range of terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity throughout Canada’s highly diverse ecozones and marine regions.

Additional information on Canada’s involvement in COP15 is available at



Convention on Biological Diversity. (2022). Final text of Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Retrieved from

Department of Justice. (2021). Principles respecting the government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Government of Canada. Retrieved from

Environment and Climate Change Canada. (2022). Introducing the new First Nations Guardians Network. Retrieved 2023, from

Environment and Climate Change Canda. (2022). Government of Canada. National Adaptation Strategy for Canada. Retrieved from

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