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Delegates from COP15. Adoption of the Kunming Montreal Framework.

National negotiators inked a deal to protect nature in the early hours of 19 December in Montreal.Credit: Julian Haber/UN Biodiversity (CC BY 2.0)

‘A historic moment for biodiversity’

More than 190 countries have cemented a hard-fought deal to safeguard nature, known as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, during the COP15 international biodiversity summit. “It’s a historic moment for biodiversity,” says ecologist Kina Murphy. For the first time, the agreement sets quantitative biodiversity targets, including:

• Protect and restore 30% of the world’s land and seas globally by 2030

• Reduce the extinction rate by tenfold for all species by 2050

Critics note that the deal lacks mandatory reporting requirements and fails to call out the most ecologically damaging industries, such as commercial fishing and agriculture.

There was controversy as the gavel fell at the event in Canada, which was co-hosted by China (because it was originally scheduled to take place in Kunming in 2020). Negotiators from several African countries said that China’s presidency ran roughshod over their concerns that they need funding to preserve some of the planet’s most crucial biodiversity hotspots.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework

Freeze-storing the Great Barrier Reef

Scientists have successfully trialled a technique for freezing coral larvae from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, to store for possible rewilding at a later date. The researchers used a lightweight material that is cheap to manufacture, known as a cryomesh, to preserve the coral at –196 ℃.

Reuters | 3 min read

South Korean spacecraft reaches the Moon

South Korea’s lunar orbiter, Danuri, has arrived at the Moon, more than four months after leaving Earth. The mission’s team has completed the first of a series of manoeuvres to put the spacecraft on an elliptic orbit around the Moon, and it should achieve a circular orbit about 100 kilometres above the lunar surface by the end of the year. Six instruments on board Danuri will then begin their year-long study of the Moon, including of the permanently shadowed regions near the poles.

Space News | 3 min read

Read more: To the Moon! South Korea’s first lunar mission is on its way (Nature| 3 min read, from August)

Features & opinion

We finally have a malaria vaccine — why aren’t children getting it?

One year after the World Health Organization approved RTS,S, the first malaria vaccine, only a fraction of the 25 million children who need it have received at least one of the four doses. Demand is estimated to be 100 million doses per year, but manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline can’t produce anything close to that amount. And the vaccine, marketed as Mosquirix, has only modest efficacy. On the bright side, researchers say that it has paved the way for better vaccines against a disease that was once considered intractable, with two other candidates currently in trials.

Nature | 9 min read

This article is part of Nature Outlook: Children’s health, an editorially independent supplement produced with the financial support of Sanofi.

How to speed up paediatric drug trials

It takes at least seven years for adult-approved drugs to be authorized for children. Pharmaceutical companies see little reason to pursue paediatric trials: they are expensive because it’s difficult to recruit participants, there are more ethical hoops to jump through and there’s less money to be made. This often leaves paediatricians with little choice but to prescribe decades-old treatment or use adult medicines off-label — a risky approach, because children can react very differently from adults, says paediatric gastroenterologist David Ziring.

Nature | 8 min read

This article is part of Nature Outlook: Children’s health, an editorially independent supplement produced with the financial support of Sanofi.

T. rex didn’t roar — it cooed

We’ll probably never know for sure whether dinosaurs cooed like doves or boomed like cassowaries, but one thing is clear: they almost certainly didn’t roar. Researchers have yet to find any fossilized evidence of sound-producing organs like those of modern birds or mammals, so Tyrannosaurus rex probably resorted to closed-mouth vocalization — low-frequency sounds that are made by inflating the throat. Computer simulations of a hadrosaur’s hollow head-crest showed that it could double as a resonating chamber, producing a sound that palaeontologist Tom Williamson called “otherworldly”.

BBC Futures | 15 min read