COP15 biodiversity summit to be fenced off amid concerns its 30×30 initiative promotes militarized conservationism

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: City, provincial and federal police and a 3 metre (10 foot) high fence will surround the Palais des Congrès in Montreal where the COP15 biodiversity summit will take place. Photo by John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette.

The COP15 summit will take place at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal starting this coming Wednesday December 7.

Already the city is being fortified for the summit.

The Montreal Gazette reports: “Workers are putting final touches on an imposing, three-metre-high fence. Police are preparing for the biggest security operation Montreal has seen in decades. …Montreal police, the Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP will staff checkpoints, letting in only accredited visitors, with more officers standing ready in case of trouble.”

That article highlights: “Multiple protests are planned by the Anti-Capitalist and Ecologist Coalition, with thousands of CEGEP and university students set to strike so they can express opposition to the United Nations gathering, known as COP15.”

The coalition explains its opposition to COP15 here.

Sarah Masse of the coalition says: “[Governments must] stop brutalizing Indigenous people who defend their territory and listen to what these communities have to teach us. Stop funding billions of extractive projects that are destructive to biodiversity, or logging projects pushing certain species such as woodland caribou to extinction.”

The 30×30 goal

The Gazette also notes: “Among the ideas being considered: vowing to conserve 30 per cent of the Earth’s land and sea by 2030 — a so-called 30×30 goal.”

Among the 100+ countries backing the 30×30 goal are the governments of Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

In May, the Colombian military spent $12,000 on a Black Hawk helicopter mission that arrested 54-year-old farmer Gladis Galindo who said she had settled in Tinigua National Park to provide food for her seven children. In October, the newly elected government of Gustavo Petro received more Black Hawk helicopters from the United States to protect the Colombian Amazon from deforestation, fires and illegal logging.

Photo: Galindo taken into custody. Photo by Andres Cardona/Al Jazeera.

The Journal Métro reports: “The [Anti-Capitalist and Ecologist] coalition is particularly opposed to the plan to transform 30% of the earth’s surface into protected areas since, according to the current proposal, ‘indigenous peoples who have inhabited the territory for millennia are forcibly evicted.’”

That article adds: “The coalition calls instead on the various actors present at COP15 to recognize the authority of indigenous communities over their territories, on which 80% of the world’s biodiversity is found.”

This past July, Mongabay explained: “The first draft GBF [Global Biodiversity Framework] 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 further cautions: “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.”

Human rights organizations concerned by 30×30

Many organizations – including ProDESC Mexico, CONDEG Guatemala, CENSAT Agua Viva Colombia and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) – have highlighted: “Protected areas have led to displacement and eviction of Indigenous Peoples and other land-dependent communities and brought serious human rights abuses by conservation organizations and enforcement agencies.”

Amnesty International has also stated that “while the [30×30] proposal has the potential to be a significant step forward in protecting biodiversity on the planet, and at the same time contributing to the fight against the climate crisis, it also presents a grave risk to the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. This is because of the devastation that the implementation of protected areas has wreaked among these peoples and communities in many cases.”

Amnesty then urges “parties to the CBD [Convention on Biological Diversity] that the protected areas target must not be included in the Global Biodiversity Framework unless robust protections for the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, as currently enshrined in international human rights law, are hard-wired into the text.”

And 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 30×30 initiative last year 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.”


The Gazette adds: “[There will be] an ‘anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist procession’ beginning at 1 p.m. on Dec. 10.”

It also notes: “That’s the same date and time of a pro-COP15, family-friendly ‘march for biodiversity and human rights,’ organized by the Collectif COP15. The collective, which is taking part in COP15 and organizing parallel events, includes about 80 organizations, representing scientists, environmentalists, unions and others.”

Collectif COP15 includes Environmental Defence, Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation (though David Suzuki signed this letter expressing concerns about the human rights violations that could come with 30×30), Indigenous Climate Action, the Sierra Club, Nature Québec and Climate Action Network Canada.

We will be in Montreal on Saturday December 10 to observe the situation.

The Coalition and Collectif mobilizations.


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

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