Key objective of COP15: protect 30% of the planet

Key objective of COP15: protect 30% of the planet

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Montreal (AFP) – Headlining the COP15 biodiversity talks is a drive to secure 30% of Earth’s land and oceans as protected areas by 2030 – the most contentious item on the agenda.

Some activists say the so-called 30×30 target is the natural equivalent of the historic global warming target of 1.5C set during climate negotiations under the Paris Agreement.

But delegates negotiating a broad conservation deal are split on how to pay the “30×30” and how the measure would be enforced.

Here are some facts about the initiative, one of many targets under discussion at talks taking place in Montreal until December 19.

Too?

Fearing that COP15 could end with a less ambitious agreement, scientists and environmentalists insist that 30% must be a minimum goal to protect nature, not a ceiling.

Currently, 17% of land and 8% of seas have protected status.

South Africa, Russia and Saudi Arabia argued for a 20% target. Other countries, such as China, Japan and South Korea support 30% for land but want a less strenuous target of 20% for seas.

The target would be applied globally, so countries with large populations or small coastlines would not be required to contribute a disproportionate share.

Some countries would assume higher percentages, especially those that are home to areas of rich biodiversity or places of strategic importance in stopping climate change, such as the Amazon and the Congo Basin.

Not enough?

Some say the 30% target is not ambitious enough.

“Thirty percent would be a glowing goal if the year were 1952. But it’s 2022 and we don’t have the luxury of waiting,” said Eric Dinerstein, a biologist who authored “Global Safety Net “, a study of the areas that need it. protection.

“The easiest way to put it, as we biologists would like to say, is that 50% is our 1.5 degrees.”

Oscar Soria of civil campaign group Avaaz also called for a 50% target, in line with other NGOs such as Wild Foundation and One Earth.

He argued that if governments recognized the rights of indigenous peoples and other communities in their territory, the 30% protection target would have already been met.

Representing six percent of the world’s population and occupying 25 percent of its land, indigenous peoples are key players in the Montreal talks.

“We are here to send the message that we cannot achieve ambitious conservation goals if our rights are not fully taken into account,” said Jennifer Corpuz, lawyer and member of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Biodiversity.

Under conditions

Many NGOs say they will accept a 30% target if certain criteria are met, such as including only ecologically significant land in protected areas and ensuring effective protection measures.

Some call for a fixed percentage of land to be classified as highly or fully protected – with barely any human activity.

Most of these elements have yet to be approved in the draft agreements under discussion.

Activists are therefore pushing for one of the COP15 negotiating blocs to take action: the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. The bloc is jointly led by Costa Rica, France and Britain and backed by 130 countries that back the 30% target.

Some, however, limit the scope of these claims.

“If the criteria are too restrictive, countries will go and protect areas that are not of great interest for biodiversity,” said a Western negotiator who requested anonymity.

“But the richest areas are also those with the best resources: they must be managed sustainably but not prohibited,” added the negotiator.

“We talk a lot about 30%, but what is essential is also what is done to nature in the remaining 70%.

Other key objectives at stake in the talks are the defense of biodiversity in land management, the reduction of pesticide use and the restoration of damaged land.

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