Global Biodiversity Framework to be discussed in Montreal amid concerns about Afro-Colombian ancestral rights and title

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Berenice Celeita of the Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC) speaks at a meeting on the Afro-Colombian island of La Plata, July 3, 2022.

The COP15 biodiversity summit will take place in Montreal this coming December 5-17.

On July 1, Mongabay reported: “Finalizing the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is taking longer than expected and yet another round of negotiations – this time in Nairobi, Kenya [June 21-26] – ended without much progress, say members of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB).”

That article adds: “A final agreement is now set to take place at COP15 in December in Montreal, Canada.”

That article also cautions: “Indigenous leaders … are disappointed that the inclusion of language recognizing Indigenous and traditional territories in the final GBF is still up for debate after years of negotiations – as is majority of the IIFB’s proposals.”

Target 3 – 30×30

The 30×30 conservation proposal is target 3 of the GBF.

In short, the proposal says at least 30 percent of the world’s land and sea area important for biodiversity should be protected by 2030.

Image from The Conversation.

Significantly, Mongabay notes: “The first draft GBF targets contained no effective safeguards to protect the lands, rights and livelihoods of IPLCs [Indigenous peoples and local communities] in conservation programs or protected areas, say Indigenous leaders. Since then, Indigenous groups have been calling for the full recognition of their rights over their lands, waters, and territories within the GBF.”

The article also warns: “Many Indigenous leaders and human rights advocates say this goal may lead to the mass eviction of Indigenous and local communities for the creation of more protected areas.”

Then in August, Sofia Monsalve (FIAN International) and Georgina Catacora-Vargas (Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology) highlighted: “This ‘fortress conservation’ approach has already been tried, and it was shown to lead to systematic violations of local communities’ rights. By deploying such strategies, governments risk sidelining precisely the people who live closest to the ecosystems that we are trying to protect, and who play a critical role in sustainably managing those resources to preserve their own livelihoods.”

They add: “Governments need to look beyond ‘30 x 30’ and ‘nature-based solutions’ to put human rights at the center of the Global Biodiversity Framework.”

Celebrities appear to endorse 30×30

Concurrently, a proposed Global Ocean Treaty was discussed at the United Nations in New York on August 15-26.

A list of celebrities, including Alec Baldwin, Javier Bardem, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Shailene Woodley and Helen Mirren, concerned by the lack of progress on this Treaty, have signed this joint letter that says: “A weak Treaty, or any further delay, would make 30×30 practically impossible. This would be a slap in the face for all those who have put faith in political leaders actually keeping their promises.”


In August 2021, 49 organizations expressed concern with the 30 x 30 initiative, warning: “The Framework’s focus on ‘protected areas’ will likely continue to lead to human rights abuses across the globe.”

One of the signatories, the Swift Foundation, said: “How it’s working right now is a militarized form of conservation. You have guards with guns, people imposing fines, building fences and kicking people out of their traditional lands. And if communities react in defense they are perceived as anti-conservation.”

And in her critique of 30×30, Sophie Grig of Survival International says: “Up to 300 million people could be directly displaced and dispossessed. Many will be Indigenous people, who have protected their lands for millennia. Those who have done the least to damage the environment, stand to lose the most. Because they rely on their lands for survival – eviction from these will be completely devastating for them.”

The example of Bahía Málaga, Colombia

On July 3, PBI-Canada joined with a Canadian labour delegation on a visit to the island of La Plata (off the coast of Buenaventura) and heard from the Afro-Colombian community of Bahia Malaga on the threat of “conservation” to ancestral and collective rights.

As they seek to confirm their title over this territory and continue to oppose a deepwater port (see Megaport vs Megadiversity, November 2006, as well as a possible expansion of the existing Colombian naval base, see Plan Pacifico and U.S. Military’s Presence in the Greater Caribbean Basin), they are concerned by the proposal of a maritime park that would leave out the proposed port but include their islands.

IPS has previously reported: “The community’s collective title to the land, which was officially recognised in 2003, covers 7,703 hectares. But the community hopes it will be granted title to the entire bay — a total of 36,600 km.”

A 30×30 conservation-backed maritime park on paper would appear to protect this bay (and the whales, dolphins and biodiversity of this bay), but in practice undermine the Afro-Colombian assertion of these waters as part of their collectively owned territories.

We continue to follow this situation.

Glossary with photos

The International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, entered into force in 1991.

Law 70, that officially recognized Afro-Colombians as a distinct ethnicity and provided a legal foundation for the defense of Afro-Colombian territorial rights, was signed in 1993.

Decree 1745 of 1995 “recognizes the right of Black communities to collective ownership of the idle lands (baldíos) that have been historically occupied by these communities in the coastal areas of the rivers forming the Pacific basin and in other areas of the country.”

The territory of the Bahía Málaga Community Council of La Plata has an area of 38,037 hectares + 1,364 m² and is made up of the village of La Sierpe with the Secadero and El Tigre farmhouses, the village of La Plata with the farmhouses of Santa Rita, Pital, Camaronero, Mangaña, Cabezón and Mayordomo, and the Miramar village.

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