Minorities are “key Partners” in the Preservation of the Planet’s Biodiversity

A top human rights expert said on Thursday that the worldwide push to maintain the planet’s biodiversity on land and water must not endanger the world’s most vulnerable people.

Countries have pledged to safeguard 30% of the earth and restore at least 20% by 2030 under an UN-backed global biodiversity framework draft agreement.

While recognising the importance of the strategy for biodiversity conservation, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment David Boyd cautioned that it “must not be achieved at the expense of further human rights violations against indigenous peoples and other rural people.”

Indigenous peoples, people of African origin, local communities, peasants, rural women, and rural youth, he said, all of whom, despite recent advancements, are not appropriately emphasised in the present draught plan.

Mr Boyd stated that these individuals and groups “must be acknowledged as key partners in protecting and restoring nature.” “Their human, land, and tenure rights, knowledge and conservation contributions, must be recognized, respected, and supported”.

The independent rights expert, who was nominated by the Human Rights Council in Geneva and reports to it, warned against “fortress conservation” approaches aimed at restoring “pristine wilderness” where no humans live.  This policy has had severe human rights consequences for communities in these targeted areas, including indigenous peoples and other rural dwellers.

Mr Boyd stated, “Leaving human rights on the periphery is simply not an option, because rights-based conservation is the most effective, efficient, and equitable path forward in safeguarding the planet,” before urging the Member States to “put human rights at the heart of the new Global Biodiversity Framework”

The request comes ahead of the UN’s COP15 biodiversity summit, which will take place virtually in October and in-person in Kunming, China, next April.

Representatives from 190 countries will meet at that time to finalise the UN Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

The draft text, which was released in July, emphasised the importance of addressing threats to biodiversity, human well-being, and the future of life on Earth, with the goal of achieving a “world living in harmony with nature” by 2050.

Mr Boyd urged States to make rights-based measures mandatory to conserve, restore, and share the benefits of biodiversity, including conservation funds because the Framework Agreement does not go far enough to preserve and safeguard nature and its critical services to people.

Photo Credit: https://minorityrights.org/2019/06/27/climate-change-further-reinforces-inequalities-and-disproportionately-affects-minorities-and-indigenous-peoples-according-to-mrgs-annual-trends-report/