Rights-Based Conservation: The path to preserving Earth’s biological and cultural diversity? | Land Portal

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November 2020
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Given the urgent need to prevent a collapse of biodiversity across the Earth, certain governments, organizations, and  conservationists have put forward proposals for
bringing 30 percent and up to 50 percent of the planet’s terrestrial areas under formal “protection and conservation” regimes. However, given that important
biodiversity conservation areas often overlap with territories inhabited and claimed by Indigenous Peoples (IPs), local communities (LCs), and Afro-descendants (ADs), expanding biodiversity conservation holds significant implications for these communities. In fact, conservation’s colonial history has contributed to a growing list of human rights abuses, displacements, and increasingly militarized forms of violence in the pursuit of protecting biodiversity. It has been estimated that up to 136 million people were displaced in formally protecting half of the Earth’s currently protected area (8.5 million km2). The current draft of the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework includes the goal of safeguarding at least 30 percent of the planet through protected areas and other effective conservation measures (OECMs). Thus far, however, it does not guarantee that the rights of IPs, LCs, and ADs will be fully respected and promoted. If conservation actors, governments, and IPs, LCs, and ADs work together, this new 10-year global framework could actively redress conservation’s colonial history and begin decolonizing conservation by substantively engaging with community-led conservation approaches. With 190 countries negotiating the UN’s Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, this is an important opportunity to codify a rights-based approach to conservation. The need for this analysis arose from the apprehensions voiced by many Indigenous and community organizations about the proposed area-based expansion of conservation, given its long history of dispossession and exclusion. It was also strengthened by the sincere efforts of some of the proponents of expanding conservation, in a bid to support rights-based measures respecting the customary rights, knowledge, and practices of IPs and LCs. The report was further informed by RRI’s finding that IPs, LCs, and ADs lay claim to nearly half the world’s terrestrial area, and that most of Earth’s biodiversity currently exists in these lands and territories. This data-driven report builds evidence for community rights-based conservation, and the urgent need to forge alliances between conservation actors and IPs, LCs, and ADs to prevent biodiversity collapse. It ultimately seeks to inform policy processes at local, national, and global levels, including the CBD COP-15 scheduled for 2021, to provide arguments for an effective, just, and sustainable future for biodiversity conservation.

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