Beyond 30%: Why rights holders are key to the realization of the Area-Based Conservation Target of the post 2020 GBF

Illustration source: WIPO

By Kevin Lunzalu, Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network

Rightsholders, especially those living in and around conservation areas, will be directly affected by the outcome of the area-based conservation topic in the ongoing post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework negotiations. The target champions the protection of at least 30% of land and sea areas globally by 2030. A rights-based approach is critical for the successful realization of this quantitative target. 

While the target mentions terrestrial and marine spaces in global space, its implementation will be anchored on local-scale contexts, which calls for full and effective participation of rightsholders such as Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, youth and women. Communities whose livelihoods directly depend on natural resources must be engaged in the conceptualization, implementation, monitoring and assessment of such schemes, and this target must not compromise their fundamental right to access, benefit-sharing and land ownership. Furthermore, the protection of biodiversity-rich areas will only be successful if elements of effective local community engagement recognized by the Convention, such as free, prior and informed consent are recognized in any conservation-related action within lands and territories that belong to IPLCs.

The best possible outcome of negotiations under this target would be one that adequately responds to the concerns raised by various rightsholders, such as where the 30% of conservation areas will come from, the role of traditional approaches to conservation, the expected impact on communities that live within and around earmarked areas and the varying definition of protected areas in sub-contexts.

Additionally, it should be recognized that in countries such as Kenya, about 70% of wildlife is found outside state-protected areas, hence the fate of such biodiversity should be discussed. Without addressing the current and foreseen drivers of biodiversity loss through systematic transformative change, it remains unclear whether the proposed 30% is truly the solution to sustaining the world’s key biodiversity areas.


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