Collective Advocacy on Biodiversity and Land Rights- COP 15 outcomes
On 19 December 2022, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, held in Montreal, ended with the adoption of the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), a landmark agreement on measures considered critical to address the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) praised the text for its "strong language on respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities." The inclusion of rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities into Target 3 on protecting one third of the world’s ocean and land territory by 2030 (the ‘30x30’ target) was particularly important given the serious risk of human rights violations in the name of conservation. These rights-centered developments were made possible in large part due to the outstanding and tireless advocacy of Indigenous Peoples and civil society.
Ahead of COP 15, during preparatory talks amongst States, ESCR-Net members, in solidarity with IIFB demands, sent a collective letter calling on all Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to protect core human rights in relation to land, and key textual recommendations have been included in the GBF. [Read more on our advocacy here]. We were also present with a small delegation at the subsequent intersessional discussions in June 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. Of course, while the final agreement recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, these rights must be now rigorously enforced.
Civil society has also expressed concern regarding key aspects of the Agreement. The CBD alliance, while welcoming clear language on rights, gender and participation, especially the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, expressed concern that the GBF does not address root causes of biodiversity loss and, worse, systematically incorporates injustices, which could undermine the agreement. Their closing statement highlighted: “The cause of the biodiversity crisis is a system that places corporate profit and power over people and nature and allows corporate interests to influence the outcomes. Our governments have regrettably ceded their responsibilities to regulate the private business and finance sector, only “encouraging and enabling” business to report and to label products, moving responsibility to consumers. These will not change the actual impact on biodiversity. There are no accountability measures or responsibility for damage done.” Given the unprecedented decline of our planet’s biodiversity and the truly existential stakes, addressing these structural issues will be vital.
In terms of the GBF adopted at COP 15, Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, IIFB Co-Chair and Environment Programme Coordinator of Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (a member of ESCR-Net), in delivering IIFB’s closing statement stated: “We must work quickly and efficiently for its implementation. From the depths of our territories, our ancestors and authorities are urging serious actions to protect our Mother Earth and all life, together with us.” Chris Chapman from Amnesty International emphasized that “Considering the gaps in the framework, monitoring the deal’s implementation and combating any human rights violations arising from the establishment of protected areas will now prove absolutely crucial.”
Numerous network members contributed to our collective work contributing to the aforementioned outcomes, foremost via the Environment and ESCR Working Group, with special thanks to: African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, Amnesty International, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida, Confederación Campesina del Perú, Consejo de Pueblos Wuxhtaj, FIAN International, Foundation for the Conservation of the Earth (FOCONE), Forest Peoples Programme, Indigenous Peoples Rights International, Manushya Foundation, Minority Rights Group International, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni Peoples, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Programme, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and Tebtebba.