Increasing protected areas could be ‘biggest land grab in history’ – indigenous activist
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature
President Xi Jinping: “We need to respect nature, follow its laws and protect it”
UN head Guterres: ‘Humanity is waging war on nature’
What will President Xi Jinping tell the summit?
The pre-recorded statements from world leaders on nature to the summit have continued.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa says the consumption of wild species and habitat loss are driving pandemics and biodiversity loss. He highlights the “complete interdependence between economic activity and human development. He calls for a change in consumption patterns and land management strategies, implementing sustainable and climate-friendly practises.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta says 2020 has given humanity a chance to get back on track with its relationship with nature. Kenya is one of a small number of mega-biodiverse countries, he says, and must make sure it is protected.
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari refelects on the flora and fauna that are facing extinction in his country.
Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araujo – who has previously dismissed the climate crisis as a Marxist plot – had been listed to represent his country in the place of president Jair Bolsonaro but the South American leader will now speak. Governments will listen to what the Brazilian leader has to say with great interest as his stance on the environment could have a major sway over the final Kunming agreement.
Brazil has traditionally been a major player in UN environmental circles through its impressive diplomatic machine. But under Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn and many fear Brazil’s leader is steering his country towards environmental ruin.
Last week the president hit back at the UN general assembly for a second year in a row about how the Amazon has been treated under his leadership, claiming Brazil was the target of a “brutal disinformation campaign”.
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Greenpeace has created ice sculptures of presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro to expose the urgency of the nature crisis and the failure of both administrations to address the issue. Activists placed the sculptures on the pier facing the UN building where the meeting would have taken place.
The message reads; “Faces of Extinction: Fuelling a planet in crisis”.
“Trump and Bolsonaro administrations are the faces of extinction as they are pushing radical agendas that are destroying nature, driving biodiversity collapse and exacerbating the climate emergency,” said Arlo Hemphill, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace US.
Jair Bolsonaro will address the summit shortly.
The presidents of Colombia and Peru have just given statements to the summit. Both are major players in UN biodiversity circles and signatories to the Leaders’ Pledge on Nature, which over 70 governments and heads of state backed before today’s talks.
Colombian leader Ivan Duque urges other countries to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, embrace nature based solutions and make changes in the industries that have the biggest economic impact.
“That is the challenge of our age,” he concludes.
Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra Cornejo echos calls from other leaders for multilateralism and cites several local examples of how Peru has taken action to protect its biodiversity.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a pointed remark about being at the “forefront” of fighting climate change, despite his country bearing “negligible responsibility for historical emissions”. He also says Turkey is working on a biodiversity “roadmap” to to 2050 without giving concrete promises about what landmarks will be involved.
Polish president Andrzej Duda boasts about the country’s “centuries-old heritage of nature conservation”, saying the wealth of the country’s forests – which cover 40% of its landmass – have been “preserved and multiplied”. He says protection of biodiversity is “one of the biggest challenges for civilisation” and talks passionately about the size of the country’s bison population.
Guardian columnist George Monbiot has written about the UN summit and the biodiversity pledges by world leaders.
It’s the hope I can’t stand. Every few years, governments gather to make solemn promises about the action they will take to defend the living world, then break them before the ink is dry. Today, at the virtual UN summit on biodiversity, they will move themselves to tears with the thought of the grand things they will do, then turn off their computers and sign another mining lease.
Ten years ago, at the last summit, world leaders made a similar set of “inspirational” promises. Analysis published a fortnight ago showed that, of the 20 pledges agreed at Nagoya in Japan in 2010, not one has been met. The collapse of wildlife populations and our life-support systems has continued unabated: the world has now lost 68% of its wild vertebrates since 1970. It sounds brutal to say that these meetings are a total waste of time. But this is a generous assessment. By creating a false impression of progress, by assuaging fear and fobbing us off, these summits are a means not of accelerating action but thwarting it.
No one will be surprised to hear that the promises Boris Johnson has made at this week’s summit are worthless. But you might be surprised by how cynical they are. One of his pledges is that 30% of the UK’s land will be protected for “the recovery of nature” by 2030. This sounds astonishing, in one of the most depleted nations on Earth, until you discover he considers that 26% of our land is already used for this purpose.
Read the full piece here.
French president Emmanuel Macron has given the pick of the early statements. He says that environmental agreements must be coherent. He cites the example of the European Union not signing a trade deal with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – the bloc known as Mercosur – over fears it would cause more deforestation in the Amazon. He says that 2021 must be “a year of action”.
Before that, Malawian president Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera spoke on behalf of the Least Developed Countries group. He expressed his dissatisfaction at the world’s failure to meet any of the previous decade’s biodiversity targets and called for more financial resources and technological support for conservation efforts.
The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed her commitment to the Kunming process.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is up next.
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For all the talk about the importance of this summit, the secretary general Antonio Guterres left because he had prior engagements.
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More than 130 organisations including Friends of the Earth International, Survival International and Indigenous Environmental Network have signed a letter criticising the biodiversity summit for not representing communities who are most affected by the destruction of nature and who also play an important role in preserving it.
The letter, from the CBD Alliance, says indigenous people, local communities, women, youth, indigenous farming systems and small-scale food producers are not adequately represented at the summit. It criticises the UN for providing a a prominent role to corporations and financial actors who are responsible for biodiversity destruction.
The letter states:
We remind states that they have obligations to protect biodiversity, but also they must ensure the realisation of human rights. This requires them to ensure effective participation of people and communities as rights holders and to ensure accountability of states regarding their commitments.
Statements by world leaders and governments have just started with the Guyanese president Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
The president of the 75th UN general assembly, Volkan Bozkir, tells the summit that world leaders have not stuck to the time limits on pre-recorded statements about biodiversity and as such, there won’t be time to play them all.
We will bring you the highlights.
Increasing protected areas could be ‘biggest land grab in history’ – indigenous activist
Protecting at least 30% of land and sea is the headline target of the draft Kunming agreement for the next decade’s biodiversity targets. But Indian indigenous youth activist Archana Soreng has warned that it could be the “biggest land grab in history”.
Removing indigenous communities from their land to protect nature is “colonial and environmentally damaging”, the member of the Khadia tribe continues, warning that human rights could be abused en masse in the name of conservation if world leaders are not careful with how the implement protections.
Here is an infographic of a recent study about increasing protected areas.
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Prince Charles is speaking as we get towards the end of the introduction, telling the summit he was immensely flattered to be invited. The Prince’s comments are focused on what he calls a “blue-green recovery”, talking of an urgent need to embrace circular economics with a Marshall plan for nature. Establishing functioning carbon markets, developing carbon capture and storage, and creating a market for ecosystem services are all key, he says.
“We are at the last hour. We know what we need to do. Let’s get on with it,” the Prince concludes.
Check out that bookcase.
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