Have you ever had to wait more than nine hours before you found out if your professional efforts were going to pay off or was it all for naught - until the middle of the night without being allowed to go home?
This is exactly what happened to delegates from around 200 countries in the main plenary hall of the convention center at the World Conference on Nature in Montreal, Canada.
Together with representatives of environmental organizations and the press - including my colleague Susanne Götze - they worried for hours whether there would be an agreement.
The nerves were blank.
Were the sometimes night-long negotiations in vain?
Or would there be a sensation?
Happy ending at three o'clock in the morning
It caused a sensation.
At three o'clock in the morning on December 19, all the delegates sat down and suddenly everything went much faster than expected.
The world agreed on a key pledge: 30 percent of land and 30 percent of oceans to be protected by 2030.
This is a huge success that many had stopped believing in.
The promise is as groundbreaking as the Paris Climate Agreement.
Earth experiences mass extinction
Some of the negotiations resembled a rousing environmental thriller.
The UN species protection conference was not an elaborately produced blockbuster.
It's more like the little sister of the World Climate Conference, with a smaller budget, fewer participants, and less fanfare.
But one that could hardly be more relevant.
Because the scenery in front of which the environmental meeting played is threatening.
Earth is facing the sixth mass extinction in its history.
One million species are threatened with extinction, the World Biodiversity Council IPBES warns.
The loss of species is currently at least "ten to a hundred times faster than the average of the last ten million years".
Three quarters of the world's land area is "significantly changed."
The agreement is intended to pull the emergency brake.
The way there was bumpy, the main argument was about money.
The EU demanded high standards for nature conservation.
Poorer countries thought that was all well and good, but how should they pay for it?
Delegations from South America and Africa demanded financial aid of 100 billion dollars per year.
Utopian, EU representatives replied.
Countries like Brazil then stood in the way, negotiator Leonardo Cleaver de Athayde was the drama queen, left the talks several times and turned other countries against the West - at least that's what representatives from Germany and Switzerland claim.
China speaks a word of power
When the waves finally calmed down - not least thanks to the skilful negotiations of SPD State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth in the Development Ministry, who was often mistaken for the Environment Minister, the next troublemaker appeared on the scene.
Shortly before the end, the Democratic Republic of the Congo demanded more money, a lot more money – a sum of aid payments that was up to three times higher than what the negotiators had already agreed on after a tough struggle.
The country gambled heavily, probably as a bluff, to squeeze more money from Western countries at the last minute.
But the president of the summit, the Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, played the boss and threw a spanner in the works for Congo.
When the delegates finally got together at three in the morning, he raised the gavel, "rattled off the document numbers, hurriedly shouted to the plenary that he saw no contradiction - and declared the agreement accepted".
This is how my colleague Susanne describes it.
Cheering broke out, the longed-for happy ending had become reality.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was duped.
Other key stipulations of the agreement:
Support for poor countries:
Emerging and developing countries had demanded 100 billion dollars a year from the industrialized countries.
In the end, they agreed on at least $20 billion a year by 2025 and at least $30 billion by 2030.
There is criticism of the sum.
The pledged 20 to 30 billion dollars are a joke, said Georg Schwede from Campaign for Nature.
Qatar spent 200 billion to host the World Cup.
The Convention stipulates that government subsidies that endanger biodiversity must be “shut down” or “reformed”.
Overall, the agreement names 500 billion dollars worldwide to be dismantled.
Restoration of destroyed ecosystems:
By 2030, 30 percent of the destroyed ecosystems are to be restored.
Less pollution and the use of pesticides:
The risk of pesticides and nutrient losses is to be reduced by half by 2030.
Responsibility of companies:
These can be encouraged or obliged by states to disclose their supply chains.
All's well that ends well?
The environmental thriller gets a sequel.
In two years, the world community will meet for the next environmental summit, then in Turkey.
In the meantime, the climate newsletter is going on a
short Christmas break
- next year, as usual, we will summarize the most important developments in the climate crisis for you every week.
The topics of the week
Steffi Lemke in an interview with SPIEGEL: "We are in the process of destroying our planet"
The Montréal Convention on Nature is intended to bring about a turning point in the global protection of animals and plants.
Environment Minister Steffi Lemke on the historic deal - and the trouble with the German Minister of Transport.
Agreement on UN species protection agreement: World rescue can begin
The species protection summit ends with an unexpected success: almost 200 countries have agreed to an agreement that is intended to stop one of the greatest planetary crises in just eight years.
What was decided at the meeting.
Negotiation thriller in Montreal: The 100 billion man
In the finale of the UN species summit, nerves are on edge.
A new agreement could fail in the last few meters.
The success now depends on the German professional negotiator Jochen Flasbarth.
Agreement at the UN Species Conservation Summit in Montreal: The branch we are sitting on
Implementing the major goals of the Species Conservation Agreement is just as difficult as converting the global economy to green energy.
Nevertheless, things have to be done quickly now.
Out of sheer selfishness.
Species protection conference in Montreal: What strict nature protection means for Germany
The UN framework for species protection that has now been adopted is intended to stop the great death of animals and plants.
However, there is enormous resistance to implementation in the federal states, as three current examples from Germany show.
Natural paradise Galápagos: Here is the blueprint for the protection of species
In the Galápagos one can discover how the decline in biodiversity could be stopped.
The archipelago is a cornucopia of life and well protected.
However, it is not safe from exploitation.
Your Julia Köppe
Your Julia Köppe