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30x30 Target – sanctioning extractive tourism and human rights violations in Africa?

Mariam Mayet and Linzi Lewis, African Centre for Biodiversity (Acbio)


The 30x30 Target of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) entrenches a catastrophic conservation paradigm by sanctioning and further entrenching a fortress conservation model, built on colonial conservation laws and practices.

Many countries in Africa have exceptionally vast areas of land devoted to protected areas. For example, the area under conservation in Tanzania (307, 800 sq km) is equivalent to 32.5% of the country - almost the size of Italy.

The establishment and expansion of protected areas have and continue to come at significant costs to local communities, including large-scale land dispossessions and evictions, separating people from their ancestral lands, and destroying livelihoods and cultures.

Since Africa holds much of the world’s intact biodiversity, what will the 30x30 target mean for the continent and its people by 2030? In African countries such as Tanzania, the evictions of the Masaai from the Ngorongoro Conservation area, and the impending evictions of the Sadaani and other farming communities are tied to the burgeoning extractive tourism industry. Investors are exploiting these very places with an assortment of destructive development projects, as profits are raked in by governments and an elitist tourist industry.

Currently, the GBF has relegated all references to human rights and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to Section B.bis, substantially weakening human rights. If indicators are only for targets, how will human rights' safeguards be measured?

The trajectory of the GBF does not augur well for Africa, where there already exists a long history of gross human rights violations and a lack of accountability from its leaders.

We continue to demand a complete overhaul of the global conservation paradigm, to one that recognises and respects traditional and sustainable uses, rights, and practices of all people, and especially Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, including smallholder food producers, pastoralists, and fishing communities.


Why should UNDROP be in the Global Biodiversity Framework?

International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)


IPBES and the FAO have repeatedly asserted the critical and longstanding role of Indigenous Peoples and smallholders as custodians of biodiversity, and yet the CBD has no recognized constituency for small-scale food producers.

In 2018, the rights of smallholders were enshrined in international law with the ratification of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP). It joins the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in safeguarding the rights of the world’s most
important custodians of biodiversity, and any new framework that relies on or affects Indigenous Peoples and/or smallholders must be in accordance with both UNDRIP and UNDROP.

This is the first biodiversity COP since UNDROP was ratified in 2018, and it is time to recognise and protect smallholders as distinct rights holders by referencing UNDROP in the new GBF, and by recognising small-scale food producers as a formal constituency of the CBD alongside Indigenous Peoples.

UNDROP defines a peasant as: “any person who engages or who seeks to engage alone, or in association with others or as a community, in small-scale agricultural production for subsistence and/or for the market, and who relies significantly, though not necessarily exclusively, on family or household labor and other non-monetized ways of organizing labor, and who has a special dependency on and attachment to the land” (UN 2019, 4-5).

UNDROP “applies to any person engaged in artisanal or small-scale agriculture, crop planting, livestock raising, pastoralism, fishing, forestry, hunting or gathering, and handicrafts related to agriculture or a related occupation in a rural area. It also applies to dependent family members of peasants.”

Food production, processing, distribution and consumption must be addressed together in the GBF and the best way to do it is to allow small-scale food producers to play a crucial role in the CBD space. For this reason, UNDROP can represent the opportunity to open a space to safeguard the rights of Peasants and Local Communities, while UNDRIP will continue to ensure the rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Negotiate to make the Biodiversity Framework Global

Documentation and Information Network for Indigenous Peoples' Sustainability (


The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) proposed by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) can help reverse anthropogenic decline in ecological health across oceans and borders. If the CBD negotiates with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities ́ (IPLCs) representative institutions and their multilateral organizations as respectfully as it negotiates with ungoverned economic interests and their financial institutions, which are not internationally regulated, this UN Framework might be truly global. The Framework proposed by the UN should separate the financial matters from the scientific measurements of Framework progress toward a global position of shared biodiversity strength.

While ecological economies have demonstrated great success in mainstreaming the science of biodiversity protection into local economic decisions, financial economies are governed by markets, many of which depend on social studies of distant supply and demand. Tenure secures rights and responsibilities interpreted by people and their communities. IPLCs ́ managed areas are not necessarily public or private. When States or businesses impose external economic measures on IPLCs ́ areas, biodiversity is lost. Involvement in forced financialization or monetization of IPLCs ́ waters, lands or winds should be ended by CBD Parties. UN Members and entities have to demonstrate respect for the rule of international law.

States breach core UN instruments and most planetary boundaries when they seize these collectively-administered areas successful in biodiversity protection. Too often when States seize such areas, they are then transferred to the control of private or state enterprises that appear to develop financial profits through the said seizure. Laws at all levels that fulfill Rio Principle 10 should be applied to investigate these “profits” for fraud and corruption as we do not see real wealth generated by such legerdemain, though some individuals seem to pocket currency as a result. Nevertheless, the financial pledges and contributions seem to include wealth that does not really exist.

While some CBD parties do respect the rule of law and implement the UN Charter and human rights treaties, including ILO C169, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, some States continue to cause biodiversity loss by simultaneously oppressing biodiversity protectors and claiming credit for their work.

IPLCs are not necessarily represented by the State and a GBF is not complete without negotiating with the most successful biodiversity protectors. Implementation of CBD Article 8 is essential to the protection of biodiversity. However, fulfillment of this article alone does not excuse the CBD from negotiating with representative institutions of IPLCs who operate within a legal rather than a market framework, and who are accountable to their constituencies. To achieve a truly GBF, the CBD should acknowledge that contributions can only be increased by negotiating with ecological contributors at least as effectively as it does with financial contributors.


Indigenous activists interrupted Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, demanding land rights and justice for Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Indigenous Climate Action

Indigenous youth interrupted Justin Trudeau's opening address to COP15 by singing and drumming while Trudeau was in the middle of boasting about the great biodiversity of Indigenous lands stolen by Canada. We declared him a colonizer.

It's hypocritical for Canada to host an international gathering for biodiversity protection while driving biodiversity loss on Indigenous lands that they have never lawfully occupied. We held up a banner that read: “Indigenous genocide=ecocide To save biodiversity stop invading our lands.”