COP 27, COP 19, COP 15…what is a “COP” and why are they important?

We have just seen COP27 all over the news, COP 19 ended last week and COP15 is due to take place in December but what is a “COP”?

COP standards for Conference of the Parties, which is the governing body of an international convention, for example, climate change. COP is a global conference where world leaders, heads of state, scientists and non-government organisations meet to discuss, review and put the rules of the convention into place.

COP 27

COP27 took place from 6 to 20 November in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. It was the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference to discuss the action needed to tackle climate change. Prior to the start of the conference, there was controversy when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he was unable to attend and only 24 out of 193 countries has submitted their plans to the UN prior to the start of the conference.

Wildlife and environmental organisations had already been calling out the government for an “attack on nature”, with plans: to scrap critical environmental laws protecting wildlife across the UK,  to introduce ‘investment zones’ which could encourage housing and development with little to no restriction on the damage to the environment and to consider removing a scheme supporting farmers and landowners to create space for rare species and their habitats.

Fortunately following the controversy, the Prime Minister did attend with the recognition that ‘there is no solution to climate change without protecting and restoring nature.’ With this being a key theme throughout the conference.

COP 27 outcomes

  • There was an acknowledgment to the link between climate change and protecting nature but a missed opportunity to include the COP 15 Convention on Biodiversity in the final text which would have helped lead into the upcoming conference and its outcomes.
  • Funding outlined for vulnerable countries impacted by extreme climate change.
  • The political influence was noted due to the need for energy security and affordability.
  • No progress with the phasing out of fossil fuels.
  • Agreement to improve regulation for carbon trading deferred to next year.
  • Only 5 more countries joined the Global Methane Pledge – methane is responsible for 30% of global warming.

Nature based solutions

The conference saw a focus on the importance of nature-based solutions as a tool for tackling climate change. The ENACT initiative for nature-based solutions (NbS) was launched to coordinate global efforts to address climate change, land and ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss through NbS.

COP 19

COP19 is the Conference of the parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It is also known as the World Wildlife Conference and recently took place from 14 to 25 November in Panama. The conference makes decisions for more than 600 animals and plants and regulations regarding the international trade in wildlife.


  • CITES is going to look into the role it can play in reducing the likelihood of emerging diseases being transmitted from animals to humans (zoonoses).
  • Around 100 species of sharks and rays, 150 tree species, 160 amphibians, 50 turtle & tortoise species and several species of songbirds are now to be listed on CITES to ensure that any trade is regulated.
  • Support will be provided to Mexico to save a species of porpoise called the vaquita which is endangered due to fishing.
  • It is hoped that these decisions will pave the way for COP 15.

COP 15

COP 15 is the next big one after COP 27 – the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal. Scheduled to take place between the 7th and 19th December, it has been described by the head of Natural England as the “best and last chance” to reduce biodiversity loss.

The main objective of the conference is to adopt the Post-2020 global biodiversity framework you may have seen us mention in previous chXout® blogs.  As described by the UN:

“The framework sets out an ambitious plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled.”

Ambitious is definitely the right word and you can imagine what must go into even thinking about achieving a goal like that but it is definitely very much needed:

  • The conference is taking place almost three years later than planned due to delays caused by the Covid pandemic.
  • We have lost nearly 70% of wildlife populations since 1970.
  • Worldwide, up to one million species face extinction.
  • 2 in 5 species of UK wild plants are estimated to be threatened with extinction.
  • More than a quarter of UK mammals are at risk of disappearing completely.
  • Proposals rejected to reopen the international trade in ivory and rhino horn. Experts were surprised as to why this was discussed in any firm as it gives ivory traders the wrong idea.

COP 15 and COP 27 are more frequently being discussed together as a healthy natural environment, rich in diversity is the key to life on earth and the basis for a healthy climate, food, water and health. The Global Biodiversity Framework is seen as the “nature equivalent” of the Paris climate agreement which underpins COP 27.

Urgent Conversation

The “Urgent Conversation” is a campaign by a coalition of organisations such as the RSPB, WWF, The Wildlife Trusts and other supporting organisations set up to highlight the importance and urgency of the action which needs to be taken at COP15.

The website and report “Getting nature positive in the UK by 2030” make a very interesting read. The essential actions set out to the Prime Minister are a key take away and there is a petition to the Prime Minister you can sign too!

We will be following the conference as it takes place and provide an update with the outcomes here on the chXout® blog. Let’s hope that we have some encouraging news for the new year ahead.