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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Biodiversity agreement: Former leaders urge ambitious nature protection, support for local communities

The Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee (GSC), a group composed of former heads of state, foreign ministers and diplomats from four continents, has said that the success of an upcoming global biodiversity agreement hinges on the adoption of the global, science-backed 30×30 target.

Russ Feingold
Russ Feingold, Leader, Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee (GSC)

Led by former US Senator Russ Feingold and comprised of eight former Heads of State, two former Prime Ministers, six former Ministers, and four environmental and Indigenous and local experts, the GSC urged governments that have not yet endorsed the global 30×30 goal to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC), a group of countries championing the target on a global scale.

Many GSC members hail from countries that have not yet signed on in support of the HAC including the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, and Iceland. Currently, HAC members include over 85 countries in Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, and beyond.

In a statement, the GSC welcomed the endorsement of the 30×30 goal in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The UN study asserted that the protection of 30-50% of the world’s land and ocean is required for maintaining the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services at a global scale.

The GSC statement also underscored that all conservation efforts must protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, “who know the land we seek to protect better than anyone.” The Campaign for Nature emphasises that IPLCs must be central partners in the development and implementation of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the global agreement must ensure free, prior and informed consent is a central element of the 30×30 target.

The GSC urged countries worldwide to seek to close the current biodiversity funding gap of $700 billion through reduced harmful subsidies and increased global spending. They also endorsed a recent call by NGOs to developed countries to provide at least $60 billion annually in international finance for biodiversity that would support efforts to protect biodiversity in the developing world.

The GSC released their statement on the eve of the UN Convention on Biodiversity’s third and last round of negotiations – set to take place in Geneva, Switzerland March 13-27 – before the final biodiversity agreement (known as the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) is signed by more than 190 countries later this summer at a summit in Kunming, China.

Established in 2020, the Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee (GSC) is one of the largest groups of independent global leaders working together for the protection of biodiversity and the halting of climate change.

Russ Feingold, former US Senator and Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, said: “As former government leaders, ministers and experts, we understand that this is an ambitious commitment, but it is viable and absolutely necessary to ward off the extinction spiral and ultimately to preserve our planet and ourselves.

“It is also vital to acknowledge that Indigenous People are inextricably linked to biodiversity and that expanding recognition of their rights is an effective, moral, and affordable solution for conserving nature. Indigenous Peoples must be central partners in the development and implementation of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the global agreement should ensure free, prior, and informed consent in the formation and management of protected and conserved areas.”

Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia: “The ambition and leadership Africa has shown so far has been remarkable. But we must not falter, ahead of COP15 it is vital that the whole continent and the African Union embrace the 30×30 goal and recognize the benefits, social and economic, that it can bring.”

Graça Machel, former First Lady and Minister: “As a new member to the Global Steering Committee I am excited to be a part of this last sprint to the finish line – I am confident together we can encourage levels of ambition the world has never reached before when it comes to protecting biodiversity, especially in my home of Southern Africa.”

Loren Legarda, Philippines Deputy Speaker: “I applaud the action that has already been taken to protect nature, through this collective effort to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea. I am certain it will reap benefits for generations to come.”

Susana Malcorra, former Foreign Minister of Argentina: “With COP26 behind us, it might be easy to think we can take a breath. But we cannot, we do not have time. It is vital that all parties to the UN Convention on Biodiversity come together at COP15 to commit to bold and ambitious targets, 30×30 included. None of our futures are certain unless we are united in this effort.”

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary UNFCCC: “The last year we have seen climate change and the protection of nature take prominence like never before, but there is still much work to be done. We must not be sidelined by empty promises and greenwashing. Nature-based solutions such as 30×30 offer a tangible, practical, and achievable goal to pin our efforts upon and we should all be committing to it.”

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