COP15: Informal talks in Montreal amid Indigenous concerns about the 30×30 initiative and militarized conservation

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: The COP15 summit will take place in Montreal at the Palais des Congrès (201 Avenue Viger Ouest at Rue Chenneville), near the UN biodiversity headquarters (413 Rue Saint-Jacques at Rue du Square-Victoria).

The Guardian has a new feature called The Secret Negotiator in which “a secret negotiator who is from a developing country” comments on the UN COP15 biodiversity conference in Montreal this coming December 7-19.

On September 28, The Secret Negotiator wrote: “Much of the draft agreement is in brackets, reflecting disagreement in the UN process as countries have added suggestion upon suggestion on how the final set of targets should look. An informal meeting in Montreal this week [September 26-30] will try to cut it down to size.”

Bracketed text on Target 3 of the Global Biodiversity Framework. Image from The Conversation, July 25, 2022.

The informal meeting follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent intervention at the United Nations General Assembly high-level week.

On September 21, a Government of Canada media release noted: “[The Prime Minister] made a call to action for renewed commitments from leaders for an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework…”

The Nature Conservancy also quotes Trudeau stating: “On the world stage, including at COP15, we will continue to mobilize global support to reach this [30×30] target and protect biodiversity around the planet. This is the moment for the world to come together and agree on an ambitious global plan to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and set our natural world on the path to recovery.”

What countries back 30×30?

According to the High Ambition Coalition, some of the 100+ countries that are backing the 30×30 plan to protect at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and sea area by 2030 include Canada, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Indigenous rights, dispossession, militarized conservation

Back on July 1, Mongabay also reported: “Finalizing the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is taking longer than expected…”

That article highlighted: “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 [International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity] proposals.”

Significantly, the Mongabay article also noted: “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 warns: “Many Indigenous leaders and human rights advocates say [the 30×30] goal may lead to the mass eviction of Indigenous and local communities for the creation of more protected areas.”

Last year, 49 organizations – including the CS Fund, EDGE Funders Alliance, Fund for Global Human Rights, Grassroots International, Inter Pares, Panta Rhea Foundation, Tides Foundation and the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund – 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 has commented: “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.”

We continue to follow these negotiations.

Further reading: Global Biodiversity Framework to be discussed in Montreal amid concerns about Afro-Colombian ancestral rights and title (August 26, 2022)

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