COP15 – how can we respond to the nature crisis?

Published: Tuesday November 29, 2022

Bee on a dandelionAhead of the COP15 conference on biodiversity, Cate Williams, Environmental Engagement Officer shares how worshipping communities can help to protect wildlife and habitats where they are.

COP15 is the fifteenth meeting of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which brings together countries to agree on targets to ensure the survival of species and prevent the collapse of ecosystems across the world. This two-week conference starts on 7 December in Montreal, Cananda, and is a particularly important once-in-a-decade opportunity to halt destruction of the natural world.

Cate Williams writes: ‘We are facing not one, but two crises in our relationship with God’s world. The climate crisis is more prominent in the news, but the nature (or biodiversity) crisis is also deeply concerning. COP27 in November sought international solutions to the climate crisis. COP15 seeks similar solutions to the nature crisis.

Unlike the climate conferences, the biodiversity discussions are not annual, COP14 was held in 2018.  The crisis, though, is significant, with important commitments occurring in smaller gatherings between the global conferences. The main aim of this year’s conference is to formally adopt a framework of focus worked out since the last conference: the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The State of Nature report in 2019 showed the impact of the nature crisis on the UK’s wildlife. We are a significantly nature-depleted nation, with 41% of species declining since 1970.

Climate change is a significant concern, as changing temperatures affect habitats for wildlife. Other factors include changing land use in ways which deplete habitats, chemical overuse and pollution, and invasive species. Some land use changes are large scale and concern building developments on greenfield sites, or historic loss of hedgerows from farmland during the 20 century. Others are more about the accumulation of small changes, including households’ choices such as paving gardens rather than managing them in wildlife-friendly ways.

…added together, the churchyards of England and Wales potentially make a wildlife sanctuary the size of the Isle of Wight.

It is really good to see so many churches tackling this through changing management practices in churchyards. This is effectively love for God’s creation in action, participating in the fifth mark of mission. When added together, the churchyards of England and Wales potentially make a wildlife sanctuary the size of the Isle of Wight. When we change our management to allow more wild spaces, our land is often good for nature. It has been largely left untouched, without chemicals and fertilisers or heavy management, meaning that the potential as habitat is significant.

Caring for God’s Acre is a good first stop for churches wanting to explore making this change.

Internally, information and stories can be found on our Diocesan website Eco Church in an Hour page.

The ‘Community and Global’ heading of Eco Church also encourages us to think wider than our own land and activities, and work with others locally on community green spaces where there is an opportunity. https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/

Do email Cate if you have specific questions, on

More details about COP15 are here: www.unep.org/events/conference/un-biodiversity-conference-cop-15

The conference aims to be: ‘an ambitious and measurable post-2020 framework which drives our actions to end biodiversity loss … to secure the future for people and planet.’ The framework provides a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade. The aim is to arrive at a framework: ‘that alters our relationship with the natural world for the better.’

Do please hold the conference in your prayers, as well as doing what you can to support nature in your own community, whether focusing on churchyard, other community green spaces or supporting charities such as Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust that are working on this in our region.’

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