Why the plan to protect 30% of the Earth by 2030 is fatally flawed

Why the plan to protect 30% of the Earth by 2030 is fatally flawed

COP15 is finally underway in Montreal, Canada, after more than two years of delay.

During the opening ceremony, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a global agreement to protect 30% of the planet’s land and water by 2030. This could be one of the main agreements reached at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference.

But despite being promoted by governments and major international conservation NGOs as a climate solution and biodiversity crisisthe ’30×30′ plan is meeting growing opposition from a number of organizations and experts.

So why is it so controversial?

30 x 30 could be ‘biggest land grab in history’

According to Survival International, an organization that campaigns for indigenous rights, 30×30 will be the largest land grab in history.

The fear is that the plan does not recognize or strengthen the rights of Native and local communities, as delegates gather in Montreal.

Sophie Grig, senior researcher for Survival International’s conservation campaign, explains.

“Up to 300 million people could be directly displaced and dispossessed. Many will be Indigenous people, who have protected their lands for millennia,” she says.

“Those who have caused the least damage to the environment stand to lose the most. Because they depend on their land for their survival – their eviction will be completely devastating for them.

“Time and time again, Indigenous peoples tell us that without their land, they simply won’t survive. If implemented, 30×30 will devastate lives on an unimaginable scale,” she adds.

People are being evicted in the name of conservation

Already in many protected areas around the world, local people, who have inhabited the land for generations, are no longer allowed to live and use the natural environment to feed their families, gather medicinal plants or visit sacred sites. .

But research has shown that, without a doubt, Indigenous peoples are the best stewards of nature. It is no coincidence that 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity is found in their territorieswhich represent about 20% of the world’s land.

“Fortress conservation” is an example of a conservation model that excludes indigenous communities. It all started with the formation of Yosemite, the world’s first national park, in North America over 150 years ago.

To preserve the “pristine wilderness”, humans had to be evicted, so the Native Americans, who had lived and cared for the area for thousands of years, were evicted.

This model of conservation continues today, in many developing countries.

The Tanzanian government’s latest plans are to expel 70,000 Maasai from their homeland, to make way for elite tourism and trophy hunting. As in most cases involving indigenous peoples, they are neither consulted nor included in decision-making processes and are not compensated for losses.

Only 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact, and biodiversity the loss continues at an alarming rate.

As a result, governments around the world are increasingly setting aside vast tracts of land in the name of conservation.

Protected areas do not guarantee increased biodiversity

In 2010, member states of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) pledged to place 17% of the world’s land in protected areas by 2020. Yet, in that decade, biodiversity has actually decreased significantly.

In addition, almost 80% of known threatened species and more than half of all terrestrial and marine ecosystems remained without adequate protection in 2019.

There have also been systemic human rights violations.

Rainforest Foundation UK protects the world’s rainforests by supporting and empowering the indigenous peoples and local communities who live there.

But his research of 34 protected areas in the Congo Basin showed that without the presence of indigenous communities, animal populations declined and extractive activities increased. And this despite significant investments that have been channeled there.

It also revealed a widespread disregard for the rights and livelihoods of local communities and conflicts between forest peoples and conservationists in this region.

According to Joe Eisen, Executive Director of Rainforest Foundation UK, human rights abuses are commonplace in the Congo Basin.

“Our research has shown that these human rights abuses are not just isolated actions of rogue rangers, but rather part of a system in which displacement, torture, gender-based violence and extrajudicial killings are used to control indigenous peoples and other local communities who live in and depend on areas of high conservation value,” he says.

“A doubling of protected areas by 2030 risks multiplying these impacts while diverting attention from the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss – our own overconsumption. Current proposals indicate that the target could in theory be achieved through community-led conservation approaches, but offer few guarantees that they will. »

He concludes that the recognition of their human rights is not only a question of social justice but also of the effective protection of nature.

Protected areas are often managed by large international conservation organizations, which employ armed guards to evict local people and prevent their return. These actions have long-term consequences and destroy indigenous livelihoods and cultures.

According to Amnesty International, Uganda The Benet indigenous people are still suffering, many years after being forcibly evicted from their land to create a national park, and are deprived of “basic essential services such as drinking water and electricity, health care and l ‘education “.

We need community conservation models

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that biodiversity will increase if 30% of land is protected, while the remaining 70% remains unchanged and continues to be over-exploited and polluted.

There are calls for the development of a model of community conservation, which empowers indigenous peoples, rather than removing them from their ancestral lands.

According to Dr Grace Iara Souza, PhD in Political Ecology and Fellow of the King’s Brazil Institute, King’s College London, there is a huge gap between ecology and conservation policies and implementation on the ground.

“Often, protected areas remain ‘paper parks’ for many years,” she says.

“Although created, they are neglected and lack formal management and, without local people and indigenous communities to ensure their preservation, are invaded for wood and mining, as well as hunting.”

Without solving these problems, she adds, the intended effect of protected areas will be limited. It will also be detrimental to nature and to those who risk their lives to protect it.

“Any conservation initiative that does not include indigenous peoples and local communities in its design, implementation and management must be challenged,” says Souza.

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