200 NGOs and experts warn against UN plan to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030

Contributed by Jonathan Mazower, Survival International

The One Planet Summit for biodiversity in Paris last month confirmed the agenda of many governments, and the conservation industry, to push ahead with a plan to place at least 30 percent of the Earth’s surface under conservation status by 2030.

Organized by France in cooperation with the UN and the World Bank, the summit launched the “High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People,” to drive progress towards the “30×30” target. 

But two hundred NGOs and experts have now signed a warning that the drive to increase global protected areas such as national parks could ruin the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and do nothing to preserve biodiversity.

In a letter to the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the NGOs warn that as many as 300 million people could be dispossessed unless there are much stronger protections for the rights of indigenous peoples and other land-dependent communities.

Later this year, the Conference of Parties to the CBD is set to agree on the new 30×30 plan. It would double the current protected land area over the coming decade.

Many indigenous representatives, such as Archana Soreng of the Kharia tribe and Pranab Doley of the Mising people, have been campaigning against the 30% target. 

Together with Survival International, the global movement for the rights of tribal peoples, they’ve declared that it will constitute the biggest land grab in world history and reduce hundreds of millions of people to landless poverty. Survival’s campaign calls the plan the #BigGreenLie.

In many parts of the world a Protected Area is where the local people who called the land home for generations are no longer allowed to live or use the natural environment to feed their families, gather medicinal plants or visit their sacred sites. This follows the model of the United States’ nineteenth century creation of the world’s first national parks on lands stolen from Native Americans. Many US national parks forced the peoples who had created the wildlife-rich “wilderness” landscapes into landlessness and poverty.

This is still happening to indigenous peoples and other communities in Africa and parts of Asia. Local people are pushed out by force, coercion or bribery. They are beaten, tortured and abused by park rangers when they try to hunt to feed their families or just to access their ancestral lands. The best guardians of the land, once self-sufficient and with the lowest carbon footprint of any of us, are reduced to landless impoverishment and often end up adding to urban overcrowding.

Around the world, indigenous peoples are increasingly denouncing the conservation industry as a “source of threats and a source of violation of indigenous rights,” and repeatedly speak out against threats to evict them in the name of conservation.

Insights Invited COB 5/29 – Transformative Conservation in Social-Ecological Systems

Over the past year or so, a small team of us worked on a discussion paper on transformative conservation (click here to view/download) for the 2020 World Conservation Congress (now postponed to January 2021). (We are members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Commission on Ecosystem Management.) The paper will provide the basis for a few events at the Congress, and draws heavily on political ecology as well as resilience thinking.

In the paper we argue that transformative conservation

  • Rethinks the relationships between nature, society, individuals, and risk in light of nature’s contributions to people, equity and justice, and sustainable development goals;
  • Restructures systems to create durable change at large geographic, ecological, political-economic, and demographic scales; and
  • Ultimately conserves biodiversity while justly transitioning to net negative emissions economies and securing the sustainable and regenerative use of natural resources.

By close of business on Friday, May 29, we are inviting anyone interested to comment on the paper and provide insights. We welcome your input!

Read more

Biodiversity and the blind spot of nature conservation policy

By Esther Turnhout, Wageningen University

The IPBES Global Assessment has made clear that the causes of biodiversity loss are located outside of protected areas, yet this remains the focus of much of conservation policy. Addressing this blind spot is challenging, but necessary for effective and just biodiversity governance and nature conservation.

Read full essay

CfP POLLEN20 – Convivial conservation: approaches for linking social and environmental justice

The Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Laila Thomaz Sandroni (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil) and Judith Krauss (University of Sheffield, UK).

Please submit your proposals for paper titles and abstracts (250 words max) with full contact details by Wednesday, 13 November 2019, to Judith Krauss: j.krauss@sheffield.ac.uk We look forward to hearing from you!

Session description

Growing concerns regarding widespread biodiversity loss, a rapidly changing climate and increasing socio-economic inequalities have prompted widespread calls for transformative change in the governance of socio-environmental relations.

In biodiversity conservation, different proposals have been put forward, including Half Earth (Wilson, 2016) and ‘New Conservation’ (Marvier, Kareiva and Lalasz, 2012), which champion reserving half the earth for conservation and embracing market-based approaches to conservation, respectively. These proposals have triggered heated debates about the fundamental aims and purpose of conservation, yet have also opened up spaces for contemplating radical approaches.

However, many of these ‘radical’ approaches do not challenge the underlying political and economic systems that are at the root of the global conservation challenges we face. Consequently, they do not deliver genuine transformations, failing to question the global market drivers of environmental and social destruction or promote a more equal voice for the communities living on a daily basis with human-wildlife conflict. By contrast, the recently proposed ‘convivial conservation’ approach (Büscher and Fletcher, 2019) pursues structural changes as well as grassroots solutions by collaborating with actors often marginalised in mainstream conservation approaches. In order  to promote co-existence, (bio)diversity and justice especially around apex predators, it draws on insights from both social sciences (e.g. Brockington, Duffy and Igoe, 2008) and natural sciences (e.g. Marchini, Ferraz et al., 2019).

This session aspires to flesh out further the theoretical tenets and practical proposals of convivial conservation. The aim is to reflect on where to situate convivial conservation in the broader conceptual debate on socio-environmental relations and transformations against the backdrop of new conservation, half earth and community conservation, as well as broader political dynamics favouring Northern, nationalistic or profit-oriented pursuits which deny, ignore and thus exacerbate socio-environmental degradation. At the same time, it also hopes to outline ways forward for convivial conservation research to make a difference for co-existence and justice in practice. We seek to engage panel presenters and listeners in a conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of this idea of convivial conservation as well as its potential for application to other spheres of life.

Possible questions asked and discussed might include:

  • What possibilities and challenges are there in promoting conviviality between humans and nonhumans, conceptually and empirically?
  • How are convivial conservation ideas materializing in practice?
  • How does convivial conservation relate to other on-the-ground experiences of conservation involving co-existence in the face of human-wildlife conflict?
  • How can a convivial conservation approach engage with the increasingly violent and authoritarian ecological politics on the rise in many places?