UN biodiversity negotiations get off in Montreal on Dec. 7 in what is being hailed as the "last best chance" to prevent irreversible human destruction of the planet's species and ecosystems.

The Dec. 7-Dec. 19 gathering brought together representatives from all around the world to try and hammer out a new agreement for nature: A 10-year framework intended to save the planet's forests, oceans, and species before it's too late.

"With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction," UN chief Antonio Guterres warned.

Following several days of pre-negotiations that saw little movement on crucial topics, raising concerns that parties may leave the summit without a satisfactory accord, the COP15 meeting officially opens today. Observers urged negotiators to swiftly resolve impasses on challenging issues including funding and execution, as only five of the more than 20 benchmarks have been reached so far.

According to Bernadette Fischler Hooper, head of international advocacy at WWF, the summit "is probably the last best chance for governments to turn things around for nature, and to rescue our precious life support system," she said.

A group of countries called for wealthier nations to contribute at least $100 billion annually to biodiversity, with the goal of reaching US$700 billion annually by 2030. Rich countries have mostly opposed calls from some states to establish a separate funding structure for biodiversity.

The cornerstone goal of the 10-year framework's draft aims calls for protecting 30% of the world's land and waters by 2030, doing away with destructive fishing and agricultural subsidies, combating invasive species, and using fewer chemicals. Since developing nations want more money for conservation, money is one of the most contentious topics.

Roadblocks are also being created by the contentious topic of biopiracy, as several countries, mostly in Africa, demand that developed nations share the advantages of substances and formulations used in cosmetics and medications originating in the Global South. Recently, differences about how to ensure that any final agreement is put into reality, unlike its predecessor agreed upon in 2010, have emerged as another sticking point.

The COVID-19 epidemic caused a two-year delay in the summit, which comes after important climate change negotiations in Egypt last month came to a close with little progress made in terms of cutting emissions and lowering the usage of fossil fuels that cause global warming.

China is the chair, but due to Beijing's long-standing zero-COVID policy, it is being hosted in Canada. All other international leaders, with the exception of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will, however, be conspicuously absent from the event because they have chosen to travel to oil-rich Saudi Arabia this week.