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30×30: Voluntary Biodiversity Targets Won’t Protect Biodiversity

Deforestation in Brazil. Photo: Jeff Conant/GJEP

Note: Last Wednesday during the UN General Assembly, an announcement was made that donors were committing $5 billion to so-called “biodiversity conservation” under the The Protecting Our Planet Challenge, part of the 30×30 initiative, which claims a goal of protecting 30% of the planet’s most important biodiverse areas by 2030. However, human rights and environmental activists have raised flags about this completely voluntary initiative, its links to offset schemes, and its impact on communities displaced to make room for “protected areas.” Would we really trust Jair Bolsonaro to voluntarily protect the Amazon? -Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP

The new ‘con’ in conservation: Why the proposed voluntary, Paris Agreement-style, ‘30×30’ target for protected areas won’t save the world’s biodiversity

REDD-Monitor 24 Sep 2021

“…the question inevitably arises as to what happens to the 70% of Earth outside of protected areas. Is this simply abandoned to rapacious corporations and developers? Critics also add that any voluntary approach to halting biodiversity loss undermines the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 1992 pact which places legal obligations on countries to conserve nature’s bounty.

Protecting the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots would require very specific measures in specific countries. But during recent discussions on the 30% proposal amongst the 180 or so member countries of the CBD, some of the most biodiverse countries raised concerns about the idea, or their ability to implement it. Some questioned whether it would do much to halt biodiversity loss. Others asked whether rich countries would be willing to foot the bill for low income countries to set aside large parts of their national territory for wildlife.

There is a very real danger that we could end up in 2030 with either nothing like 30% of Earth being protected or, even worse, with a lot more protected areas that have displaced hundreds of millions of people from their land, but done little or nothing to prevent biodiversity loss, and with the very fabric of life still rapidly disappearing.

Much better would be for all countries to be required under the new biodiversity agreement to identify what is really causing the loss of their biodiversity and then draw up rapid action plans to address that. Special attention needs to be given to strengthening the legal rights of indigenous people, whose lands are believed to contain 80% of all Earth’s biodiversity but which largely remain legally unrecognised. Along with the many other local communities protecting wildlife, they should be front and centre of the solution – rather than an arbitrary and voluntary protected areas’ target of the kind which has already failed.

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