A push to place 30% of the planet under ‘protected’ status by 2030, while making for catchy media headlines and political slogans, is not supported by the science, a group of international NGOs have warned.
This warning comes as delegates of governments and conservation organisations meet in Kenya this week to discuss the draft post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which includes the controversial ‘30x30’ target and could be formally adopted at the Biodiversity COP 15 in Montreal in December 2022.
In a letter to these delegates, the Rainforest Foundation UK joins Survival International and Minority Rights Group to express concerns that there is in fact very little credible and independent scientific evidence that existing protected areas are successfully protecting biodiversity and wildlife and should therefore be so drastically expanded.
This lack of scientific basis is all the more concerning as doubling the land under ‘protected area’ status could harm hundreds of millions of indigenous people and local communities who depend on and have shaped the areas set to be earmarked for protection. Protected areas, which to date remain the cornerstone of global conservation efforts, have had – and continue to have – enormous human rights and social impacts.
Instead, policy makers should build on the growing scientific consensus that the foundation of biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation lies in the wider recognition of indigenous and community land rights. Rather than setting arbitrary area-based conservation targets, they must do more to tackle the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss.