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COP15 outcome

30x30 target agreed at UN biodiversity summit but lacks crucial detail to stop mass extinction
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
African man of the Maasai tribe in Kenya sits on the ocean and looks into the distance

Despite agreeing the important 30×30 target to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, and recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Greenpeace says COP15 ‘failed to deliver the ambition, tools, or finance necessary to stop mass extinction’.

For the UK, whose delegation worked hard to make the 30×30 target as strong and as meaningful as possible, the conference may have ended with frustration.

‘Governments like the UK who fought hard for stronger language within the 30×30 target must channel any frustration with the outcome into leading by example. But with the UK government failing to protect nature at home, how did it expect to achieve global environmental leadership?

‘Last week the government brought forward incredibly weak Environment Act targets and it continues to allow our most vulnerable marine ecosystems to be plundered by destructive fishing.

‘We need to see properly protected ocean sanctuaries, and large swathes of land managed for nature, to show the world that restoring biodiversity unlocks jobs in rural and remote areas, keeps our food system resilient and makes sure we are all more able to withstand the impacts that climate change is already having.’

Executive director, Greenpeace UK

Indigenous People’s rights

Greenpeace welcomed the explicit recognition of Indigenous People’s rights, roles, territories and knowledge as the most effective biodiversity protection that has come out of the UN nature talks. 

However, Amnesty International warned the 30×30 agreement, or Global Biodiversity Framework, is a missed opportunity to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The 30×30 agreement sets targets aimed at arresting the alarming decline in global biodiversity seen in recent decades. However, nations at COP15 fell short of explicitly recognising Indigenous People’s lands and territories as a separate category of conserved area, which ultimately threatens their rights.

The COP15 conference offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set ambitious goals aiming to protect the diversity of flora and fauna on the planet, said Amnesty, an ambition which hasn’t been fully realised.

Meanwhile, despite safeguards in the document, a number of Indigenous Peoples remain opposed to calls to expand protected areas, given the appalling abuses that are committed in such areas in many countries.

‘While the accord contains several highly important environmental targets and human rights safeguards, it fails to fully protect and uphold Indigenous peoples’ rights.

‘States present at the conference did not wholly incorporate Indigenous peoples’ demand for their lands and territories to be fully recognised as a category of conserved area, a plea that was intended to protect them from the predations they often experience in areas such as state-run national parks.

‘Consequently, states have failed to fully recognise Indigenous peoples’ immense contribution to conserving biodiversity, putting them at greater risk of human rights violations.

‘The Global Biodiversity Framework negotiated at COP15 only partly acknowledges Indigenous peoples’ outstanding contribution to conservation. Despite constituting just 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous peoples’ lands host 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

‘Considering the gaps in the framework, monitoring the deal’s implementation and combatting any human rights violations arising from the establishment of protected areas will now prove absolutely crucial.’

Amnesty International’s Indigenous Rights adviser

Severe repercussions

In a landmark resolution passed this year, the UN General Assembly agreed to recognise the right to a healthy environment as a human right, in a move that may transform efforts to fight climate change and protect the right to live in dignity for billions of people.

Failing to address biodiversity loss will lead to severe repercussions for future generations, who will inherit its irreversible results.

Biodiversity is an essential element of a healthy environment. The urgent need to address the loss of biodiversity is an essential step towards climate justice, and to protect the right to live in a safe, clean and sustainable environment.

‘Indigenous Peoples are the most capable and knowledgeable guardians of nature. There is so much potential for biodiversity protection if Indigenous Peoples are in leadership roles. Rights-based protections are the future of conservation. Direct finance for Indigenous Peoples is a critical next step.

‘Taken all together, however, COP15 failed to deliver the ambition, tools or finance necessary to stop mass extinction. The 30×30 target, to protect at least 30% of land and of sea by 2030, has successfully made it in. But it is stripped down, without essential qualifiers that exclude damaging activities from protected areas. As is, it is just an empty number, with protections on paper but nowhere else.
‘$20 billion a year until 2025, and then $30 billion a year until 2030, is a start, but it’s not enough. With a $700 billion biodiversity funding gap, it’s unclear where the rest of the money will come from. Finance is not only a question of how much, but how fast. Setting up a fund in 2023 should get funding to developing countries faster. 

‘Corporate schemes like nature-based solutions and offsets leeched on to the UN biodiversity talks from start to finish. These are false solutions that may prove to be costly mistakes. The scandals and greenwashing you see in carbon offsetting today are what’s on the menu for biodiversity tomorrow.’

Head of the Greenpeace delegation at COP15

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