Focus on profit and ignoring benefits of nature linked to killing of environmental leaders

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Guardian reports: “A market-based focus on short-term profits and economic growth means the wider benefits of nature have been ignored, which has led to bad decisions that have reduced people’s wellbeing and contributed to climate and nature crises, according to a UN [United Nations] report.”

“This means properly valuing the spiritual, cultural and emotional values that nature brings to humans, according to the report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).”

“The review highlights four general perspectives that should be taken into account; “living from nature” which refers to its ability to provide us with our needs like food and material goods; “living with nature”, which is the right of non-human life to thrive; “living in nature” which refers to people’s right to a sense of place and identity, and finally, “living as nature”, which treats the world as a spiritual part of being human.”

The article continues: “The report builds on the Dasgupta review, which found the planet is being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the true value of nature. Incorporating diverse worldviews and knowledge systems will be key to leading to a more sustainable future, the report says.”

Patricia Balvanera

The Guardian also highlights: “There are consequences of not taking other values into account, such as environmental leaders being killed because they had claims to land that have been ignored, says Professor Patricia Balvanera, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who co-chaired the assessment.”

These concerns have previously been expressed by other UN representatives.

Michel Forst

In November 2019, Michel Forst, then the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, commented: “[The] killings of defenders and a lot of those who condemn the bad practices of businesses have increased and are now happening daily. It’s an epidemic which is spreading as business tries to conquer new markets, as natural resources are found in areas that had been until then untouched.”

He then noted: “States must go to the root of environmental conflicts, such as imbalance of power, making nature into a commodity, impunity and the current development model in order to ensure long-term solutions.”

Leo Heller

In October 2019, Leo Heller, then the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water, highlighted: “Mega-projects are promoted through the narrative of contributing towards the enhancement of the livelihood of the people, but they often impede the enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation.”

His report cautioned: “Communities affected by such negative impacts protest against mega-projects in various ways ranging from peaceful protest to occupation of the project premises. These situations often generate reactions from the related actors, involving private military and security contractors or public security forces, as well as confrontations with employees working on the project which may lead to physical conflicts.”

António Guterres

And in December 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres also stated: “More and more people are recognizing the limits of conventional yardsticks such as Gross Domestic Product, in which environmentally damaging activities can count as economic positives.”

Guterres emphasized: “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.”

Peace Brigades International has also affirmed: “[Human rights defenders] are at risk due to the powerful economic and political interests that lie behind environmental destruction, whether that be through the imposition of mineral extraction projects, agri-business or other sectors that seek to exploit natural resources for economic gain. In a system that favours profit over rights, economic models that encourage the forced displacement of those defending their resource-rich territories will continue and those at the forefront will remain at risk of violence.”

The 37-page IPBES summary report can be read here.

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