AS CONSERVATIONISTS AND GLOBAL LEADERS prepare to meet in Marseille, France, for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress from 3-11 September, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment has released a strongly-worded policy brief.

It argues that achieving environmental goals “demands a dramatic departure from ‘conservation as usual’.” His brief calls instead for a radically different, rights-based approach.

While the IUCN congress will propose an extension of current conservation efforts – in particular with a call to expand “Protected Areas” to cover 30 per cent of the globe – the powerful new policy brief from the UN’s David Boyd criticises the “failures” of the current model. He calls instead for “a transformative approach”, that puts human rights and indigenous peoples at the heart of conservation, including the controversial post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

His call will be amplified at a counter-Congress taking place before the IUCN congress in Marseille, on 2-3 September. ‘Our Land, Our Nature’, a unique global event to decolonise conservation, will bring together more than 30 indigenous and non-indigenous activists, experts and scientists from around 18 countries, and will offer a counter-narrative to the IUCN’s ‘official’ congress. More than 1,600 people have already signed up to attend the event.

The UN brief argues that the what, who and how of conservation must change, and adds that, “Implementing rights-based conservation approaches is both a legal obligation under international law and the most equitable, effective, and efficient conservation strategy available to protect biodiversity at the scale required to end the current global crisis.”

Fiore Longo, head of Survival’s conservation campaign said: “Many indigenous peoples and Survival have been saying for decades that the fortress conservation model pushed by big conservation organsations like WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is disastrous for both nature and tribal peoples. This policy brief from the UN expert on human rights and environment says the same thing, loud and clear. It’s past time for these organisations and governments to abandon their failed, racist and colonial model and put human rights and indigenous peoples at the heart of conservation and the fight against climate change.”

* Read Human rights-based approaches to conserving biodiversity: equitable, effective and imperative here.

* Source: Survival International