Negotiators at a global conference on saving the world's biodiversity were sharpening their focus on how to pay for it Tuesday, as environment ministers from around the globe converged in Montreal for the final week of COP15.

"Resource mobilization is the key element here," federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said through a translator.

Attention at the meetings has been focused on the marquee target of preserving 30 per cent of the world's land and water by 2030. But that ambition will depend on the resources — technology and capability, as well as money — that are devoted to it.

Huang Runqiu, China's environment minister and the conference's chairman, suggested that finance tops the agenda as the conference enters its second phase.

Staff with the environmental organization Climate Action Network inside the talks suggest that no deal will happen unless it's accompanied by adequate resources.

They said in their Tuesday briefing that Brazil and 69 other states have announced their intention to make international financing for biodiversity a condition for the adoption of a global biodiversity framework.

Eddy Pérez, a climate diplomacy specialist with Climate Action Network Canada, said developing nations don't feel reassured that the international community will be there to support them in implementing the goals of the biodiversity framework.

"What that says to me is that there won't be a deal unless there is international support on the table," he said in an interview. "And I think ministers need to be prepared to make sure that finance discussion gets there."

Pérez said developing nations are asking for immediate support from developed countries, as well as for the eventual creation of a separate global biodiversity fund. More than that, they want to leave Montreal with a sense that they're being heard, he said.

Focus turns to financing in final week of global biodiversity conference. #CDNPoli #Biodiversity

Estimates of how much money is needed vary widely.

Negotiators are currently working with the figure of US$200 billion a year. But the text under discussion also includes another US$500 billion that would be redirected from public subsidies that are currently damaging biodiversity.

Most of the money set aside for implementing the framework would flow from the developed nations of the north to those of the global south, where the greatest amount of biodiversity remains.

Pérez said that while many of those nations are ready to be ambitious, some are highly indebted and lack access to global capital.

"It's about fixing those elements so that they understand that implementing this global biodiversity framework benefits them and is not going to become a burden," he said.

He said negotiations on finance at the conference only got seriously underway on Tuesday, and progress in general has been "slow." However, he said the financing accord is set to be renegotiated in 2025, opening the door to an agreement on so-called "fast-start funding," along with commitments to more support down the line.

Guilbeault acknowledged a need for money from the private sector as well as philanthropy in order to raise the necessary funding for biodiversity.

"Clearly, we do not have enough money from governments for all the needs," he said.

Shaughn McArthur, the associate director of government relations for the non-profit group Nature United, said he believes private industry can be a part of the solution. Increasingly, he said, companies are on board with initiatives such as mandatory reporting of nature-related impacts of business activities, and are looking for ways to realize their climate promises.

"I was talking this morning to representatives of the TD Bank. We see major Canadian agricultural representatives here. One of our partners is the Royal Bank," he said.

"All of these companies clearly have problems, but they have made commitments to net zero. And they know that in order to get there, they can do it in a way that's nature positive and climate positive, with the right enabling conditions."

What they're looking for, he said, are "enabling policies and financial mechanisms" that will help them invest.

But there's more under discussion than just a dollar figure.

Delegates have to also agree on how the money would be used, how it would be accounted for and even what financial institution would handle the transfer.

The conference runs until Dec. 19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2022.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton and Morgan Lowrie in Montreal

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