NGO concerns over the proposed 30% target for protected areas and absence of safeguards for indigenous people and local communities


13th July 2020


To the Parties to CBD and the CBD Secretariat,

We are concerned about the 30% target in the ‘zero-draft’ Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to:

“By 2030, protect and conserve through well connected and effective system of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures at least 30% of the planet with the focus on areas particularly important for biodiversity”.1

While bold commitments are certainly needed to tackle climate and biodiversity emergencies, we believe this target is counterproductive and could further entrench an outmoded and unsustainable model of conservation that could dispossess the people least responsible for these crises of their lands and livelihoods.


Our principal concerns are:

  • The 30% target is being set without a prior assessment of the social impacts and conservation effectiveness of the previous drive for 17% terrestrial protected areas (adopted by the Parties to the CBD in 2010). Protected areas have led to displacement and eviction of Indigenous Peoples and other land-dependent communities, and brought serious human rights abuses by conservation organisations and enforcement agencies. Despite provisions in the current CBD framework and draft post-2020 GBF to include ‘Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures’ in global conservation targets, experience has shown that state-owned, strict protected areas have often remained the default choice in much of the Global South.
  • Based on independent studies of the areas of ecological importance most likely to be put forward as protected areas2, we estimate that up to 300 million people could be negatively and seriously affected.
  • The current draft GBF targets contain no effective safeguards to protect the lands, rights and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and other land-dependent communities in conservation programmes. This violates UN norms and international law.
  • The proposal fails to reflect the findings of the IPBES 2019 Global Assessment that existing protected areas are “not yet effectively or equitably managed” or the emphasis it placed on the need to protect indigenous lands.3

We believe that prior to the adoption of any new protected area targets:

  1. The GBF must recognize and protect collective and customary land tenure systems and adopt strong enforceable safeguards for Indigenous Peoples and other land-dependent communities that will apply to all new and existing protected areas. These must adhere to international human rights agreements and guarantee the rights to lands, resources, self-determination and free prior and informed consent. A plan should be adopted for how they will be applied to existing protected areas, and a robust review mechanism established, before any increase in protected areas is considered.
  2. There should be an independent review of the effectiveness and social impacts of existing protected areas in order to guide new targets and norms in the post-2020 GBF.
  3. A thorough study should be conducted and published on the potential for wider legal designation and protection of Indigenous Peoples and other sustainable community-managed lands to provide the greater conservation of biodiversity that is sought under the post-2020 GBF. Subject to this, the GBF should reflect the principle that the protection and recognition of Indigenous Peoples and other sustainable community-managed lands will be the principal mechanism for achieving greater biodiversity conservation in area-based efforts.
  4. Scientific justification must be given for the 30% target. This must include an assessment of climate mitigation potential as well as outlines of where such areas are planned, what protection regimes will be applied and what are the expected impacts on people in those areas.

Thank you for considering these proposals.

Signatories as of 20 April 2021:

1. Rainforest Foundation UK, United Kingdom
2. Minority Rights Group International, United Kingdom
3. Survival International, United Kingdom
4. Coorg Organisation for Rural Development (CORD), India
5. KHOJ Melghat, India
6. Katiba Institute, Kenya
7. Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), Kenya
8. ProDESC, Mexico
9. Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Mexico
10. Dynamique Mondiale des Jeunes (DMJ), Cameroon
11. National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC), Cameroon
12. Réseau Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l’Homme (RECODH), Cameroon
13. Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya
14. AfroLeadership, Cameroon
15. Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, Malaysia
16. Actions pour la Promotion et Protection des Espèces et Peuples Menacés (APEM), Democratic Republic of Congo
17. Asociación Consejo Nacional de Desplazados de Guatemala (CONDEG), Guatemala
18. Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), Tanzania
19. Bagyeli’s Cultural and Development Association (BACUDA), Cameroon
20. Conservation Solutions Afrika, Kenya
21. Alliance Nationale sur les Aires et Patrimoines Autochtones et Communautaires (ANAPAC), Republic of Congo
22. Cercle des Droits de l’Homme et de Développement (C.D.H.D.), Republic of Congo
23. OKANI, Cameroon
24. Environnement Resources Developpement et Nature (ERND), Democratic Republic of Congo
25. European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Germany
26. Wumweri Ghodu CBO, Kenya
27. Sustainable Development Institute, Liberia
28. Narasha Community Development Group, Kenya
29. Nareto Latia Indigenous Peoples’ Programme, Kenya
30. Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project (CIPDP), Kenya
31. Kalahari Peoples’ Fund, United States
32. African International Christian Ministry (AICM), Uganda
33. Sengwer Indigenous Peoples’ Programme, Kenya
34. Peter Veit, United States
35. Jamil Dakwar, United States
36. Cathal Doyle, United Kingdom
37. World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay
38. Ethological Society of India, India
39. AIPP, Thailand
40. Amnesty International, United Kingdom
41. Community Land Action Now (CLAN), Kenya
42. Dr. Liz Alden Wily, Kenya
43. ESCR-net
44. Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nigeria
45. REPALEAC, Democratic Republic of Congo
46. Endorois Indigenous Women’s Empowerment Network, Kenya
47. End Corporate Abuse, India
48. Due Process of Law Foundation, United States
49. Endorois Women Community Based Organization, Kenya
50. Adivasi Navjeewan Gathan Navjyoti Agua (ANGNA), India
51. New Wind Association, Finland
52. Emmaus Aurinkotehdas ry, Finland
53. Peter Bridgewater (Institute for Applied Ecology and Institute for Governance and Policy – University of Canberra), Australia
54. Jerome Lewis (Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability – University College London), United Kingdom
55. Robert Moise (Independent anthropologist), United States
56. David Suzuki, Canada
57. Red Mexicana de Organizaciones Campesinas Forestales A. C. (Red MOCAF), Mexico
58. Flourishing Diversity, United Kingdom
59. Plateau Perspectives, Canada
60. Dhaatri Trust, India
61. CIC – International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, Hungary
62. Forest Trends, United States
63. PowerShift e.V., Germany
64. Reforest the Earth, United Kingdom
65. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Philippines
66. Trident Ploughshares, United Kingdom
67. Union of the Committee of Soldiers Mothers of Russia, Russia
68. Fleur Nash (University of Cambridge), United Kingdom
69. The Development Institute, Ghana
70. Rengma Tribal Group, India
71. Kuki Tribal Group, India
72. Bodo Students’ Union, India
73. Dimasa Tribal Group, India
74. Bihar Adivasi Adhikar Forum, India
75. Adivasi Dalit Majdoor Kisan Sangharsh, India
76. Sarv Adivasi Samaj Bastar Sambhag, India
77. Shri Ashish Beck, India
78. Pragati Prayas, India
79. Rajpipla Social Service Society, India
80. Adivasi Ekta Parishad, India
81. Nayak Development Sangathan, India
82. PESA Action Group, India
83. Human Development and Research Centre, India
84. Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, India
85. Centre for Mountain Dalit Rights, India
86. Vikas Sahyog Kendra, India
87. Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sanstha, India
88. Srijan Foundation, India
89. Bharat Van Adhikar Manch, India
90. Jungle Bachao Andolan, India
91. Karnataka People’s Forum for Land Rights, India
92. Kerala Adivasi Forum, India
93. Gondwana Samagra Kranti, India
94. Sanket Sansthan, India
95. Gondwana Mahasabha, India
96. Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, India
97. Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, India
98. Parmeshwaram Welfare Society, India
99. Adivasi Chetna Shikshan Seva Samiti, India
100. Khoj, India
101. Adivasi Chetana Manch, India
102. Jungle Jami Surakhya Committee, India
103. Paribesh Surakya Samiti, India
104. Society of All Round Development, Sirohi, India
105. Adivasi Student Union, India
106. Gondwana Samkshema Parishad, India
107. Adivasi Vanvasi Mahasabha, India
108. Odisha Sabar Mahila Mahasangh and Van Panchayat Sangharsh, India
109. Mahila Kalyan, Sanstha, India
110. Haripal Adibasi Seva Mission, India
111. Ranga Matya Lahanti Jeeban Samity, India
112. Adibasi Samannoy Mancha, India
113. Bijaya K. Panda, India
114. Rahul Srivastava, India
115. Shyam Kumari Dhurve, India
116. Prof. Rosaleen Duffy (University of Sheffield), United Kingdom
117. Dr. Elaine Lan Yin Hsiao (University of Sheffield), United Kingdom
118. Dr. Ngambouk Vitalis Pemunta (University of Gothenburg), Sweden
119. Prof. Dan Brockington (University of Sheffield), United Kingdom
120. Asst. Prof. Jared Margulies (University of Alabama), United States
121. Strong Roots Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo
122. Organisation pour le Développement et les Droits Humains au Congo (ODDHC), Republic of Congo
123. Civil Society-Independent Forest Monitor, Liberia
124. Dr. Anwesha Dutta (Michelsen Institute), Norway
125. Dr. George A Iordachescu (University of Sheffield), United Kingdom
126. Dr. Judith Verweijen (University of Sheffield), United Kingdom
127. Prof. Bram Büscher (Wageningen University), Netherlands
128. Initiative for Equality, United States
129. Elisabeth Steffens, Germany
130. Prof. Dr. René Kuppe (University of Vienna), Austria
131. Dr. Jevgeniy Bluwstein (University of Fribourg), Switzerland
132. Prof. Jens Friis Lund (University of Copenhagen), Denmark
133. Marine Gauthier, France
134. Dr. Esther Marijnen (Ghent University), Belgium
135. Dr. Robert Fletcher (Wageningen University), Netherlands
136. Prof.Tor A. Benjaminsen (Norwegian University of Life Sciences), Norway
137. John Nelson (Nourish Trust Initiative), United Kingdom
138. Dr Jessica Hope (Lecturer in Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews), United Kingdom
139. Oksana Dorohov, United Kingdom
140. Neil Dawson (University of East Anglia), United Kingdom
141. Cultural Survival, USA
142. National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC), Liberia
143. National Union of Community Forest Management Committee Body (NUCFMB), Liberia
144. Volunteers to Support International Efforts to Develop Africa (VOSIEDA), Liberia
145. Save My Future Foundation(SAMFU), Liberia
146. Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW), Liberia
147. Water Justice and Gender, Peru
148. Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
149. Eco Custodian Advocates, Papua New Guinea
150. Sylvie Brunel, Geographer and economist (Paris Sorbonne University), France
151. BioFuel Watch, UK
152. Amis de l’Afrique Francophone, Benin
153. Ole Siosiomaga Society Incorporated (OLSSI), Samoa
154. Asociación Cultural La Negreta, Dominican Republic
155. Holarctic Bridge Pvt 
156. CENSAT Agua Viva, Colombia
157. Organisation Indus Development Organization, Pakistan
158. Carola Rackete, MSc Conservation Management
159. INFOE – Institut für Ökologie und Aktions-Ethnologie, Germany
160. Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), France
161. all4trees, France
162. Associazione A Sud, Italy
163. Prof. Vittorio Agnoletto (Università degli Studi di Milano), Italy
164. Accademia Kronos, Italy
165. Community Conservation, Nepal
166. Canopée Forêts Vivantes, France
167. Fondation Danielle Mitterrand – France Libertés, France
168. FIAN Deutschland, Germany
169. glokal e.V., Germany
170. Associate Prof. Liza Grandia (Department of Native American Studies), United States
171. Dalit Mukti Morcha, Chhattisgarh, India
172. Chhattisgarh Nagrik Samyukt Sangarsh Samiti, India
173. Dr. Goldy M. George, Activist, Author, Academician, India
174. Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium
175. Prof. Hanne Svarstad, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
176. Rosa Montero, Journalist and writer, Spain
177. Luis Pancorbo, Journalist and documentary filmmaker, Spain
178. Dr Alessandra Mancino, Italy
179. Slow Food Italia Aps, Italy
180. Dr Rebecca Jarvis, Auckland University of Technology, Aotearoa, New Zealand
181. Dr Assunta Martone, Italy
182. Prof. Michele Carducci, Università del Salento, Italy
183. Rete “Legalità per il clima”, Italy
184. Centro di Ricerca Euroamericano sulle Politiche Costituzionali (CEDEUAM) dell’Università del Salento, Italy
185. GIAN – Gruppo italiano Amici della Natura, Italy
186. Green Finance Observatory, Belgium
187. Prof. Marco Mascia, Cattedra UNESCO Diritti umani, democrazia e pace, Università di Padova, Italy
188. Prof. Barbara Poggio, Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale, Università di Trento, Italy
189. (R)esistenza – associazione di lotta alla illegalità e alla cultura camorristica, Italy
190. Prof. Marco Cilento, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
191. Prof. Mariella Nocenzi, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
192. Dr. Valentina Rossi, researcher, CNR-IRISS, Italy
193. Eleonora Fanari, PHD scholar, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), Italy
194. Prof. Marta Vignola, Università del Salento, Italy
195. Prof. Frédéric Leroy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, signed in own capacity, Belgium
196. Igapo Project, France
197. FOCSIV, Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario, Italy
198. Lottie Cunningham, Presidenta del Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN), Nicaragua
199. Maxime Combes, econmist, France
200. Attac, France
201. FIAN International, Germany
202. Act On Sahel, Burkina Faso
203. CETRI – Centre tricontinental, Belgium
204. The Oakland Institute, United States
205. David R. Goyes, postdoctoral researcher, University of Oslo, Norway
206. Terra Phoenix, Italy
207. Prof. Gennaro Avallone, Università degi Studi di Salerno, Italy
208. Animal Save Italia, Italy
209. Dr. Domenico Carolei, University of Stirling, United Kingdom
210. Prof. Stefania Barca, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
211. Luca Saltalamacchia, lawyer, Italy
212. Dr Peter Newell, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
213. Dr Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
214. Terra, political and cultural organization, Italy
215. Giannozzo Pucci di Barsento, Director of L’Ecologist Italiano, Italy
216. Prof. Rodolfo Soncini-Sessa, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
217. Fabrizio Carbone, journalist and writer, Italy
218. Dr Benjamin Cooke, Senior Lecturer, RMIT University (Melbourne), Australia
219. Dr Maura Benegiamo, Research associate, Collège d’Études Mondiales-MSH, France
220. Prof. Salvo Torre, Università di Catania, Italy
221. Louise Romain, International grassroots outreach, Stop Ecocide International, United Kingdom
222. Brian Keane, Board Chair Land is Life, United States
223. UNESCO Chair “Human Rights, Democracy and Peace”, Università degli Studi di 
Padova, Italy
224. Ecorev, Revue critique d’écologie politique, France
225. Associazione Medici per l’Ambiente – ISDE Italia, Italy
226. Pablo Aránguiz Mesías, Fundación Wekimün Chilkatuwe, Williche Council of Chiefs of Chiloé, Chile
227. IWGIA, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Denmark
228. Stop Ecocide International
229. Dr Nora Sylvander, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
230. Roundwood Tree Experts (RTE), United Kingdom
231. Celeste Alexander, Princeton University, United States

232. Proyecto Gran Simio (GAP/PGS-España), Spain
233. Survie, France>
234. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains, France
235. Pierre Spielewoy, jurist and anthropologist, France>
236. ManiTese, Italy
237. Dominique Sewane, anthropologist, International Expert WH/ICH Unesco
238. Damien Deville, geographer and anthropologist of nature, France
239. Eunhae Lee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
240. Dr Fabio Parascandolo, geographer, Università di Cagliari, Italy
241. Dr Federico Demaria, University of Barcelona, Spain

The statement with list of signatories (last updated on 18/01/2021) is available here in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

1 The quoted language is drawn from the Draft monitoring framework for the post-2020 global biodiversity circulated in advance of the 24th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice:

2 Schleicher, J., Zaehringer, J.G., Fastré, C. et al. Protecting half of the planet could directly affect over one billion people. Nat Sustain 2, 1094–1096 (2019).; RFUK (2020) The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – How the CBD drive to protect 30 percent of the Earth by 2030 could dispossess millions.

3 IPBES (2019) The global assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

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300 Million at risk form CBD drive