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MONTREAL: Countries reached a historic deal on Monday to reverse decades of environmental destruction threatening the world’s species and ecosystems, in what the UN chief hailed as “a peace pact with nature.”

After the marathon COP 15 biodiversity summit in Montreal ran into the small hours, chair Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, declared the deal adopted and banged his gavel, sparking loud applause.

“We are finally starting to forge a peace pact with nature,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, hailing the accord.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said the deal was a “foundation for global action on biodiversity, complementing the Paris Agreement for Climate.”

UN deal calls for $20bn international biodiversity aid

After four years of fraught negotiations, more than 190 other states rallied behind the Chinese-brokered accord aimed at saving Earth’s lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and the climate crisis.

“We have in our hands a package which I think can guide us all to work together to hold and reverse biodiversity loss, to put biodiversity on the path of recovery for the benefit of all people in the world,” Huang told the assembly.

He overruled an objection from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had refused to back the text, demanding greater funding for developing countries.

The deal pledges to secure 30 percent of the planet as a protected zone by 2030, stump up $30 billion in yearly conservation aid for the developing world and halt human-caused extinctions of threatened species. Environmentalists have compared it to the landmark plan to limit global warming to 1.5C under the Paris agreement, though some warned that it did not go far enough.

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