People from the Indigenous community braced the harsh cold winter of Canada, to represent their voice and rights of their communities at the ongoing COP15 in Montreal. Indigenous peoples are among the most affected by biodiversity loss and other environmental harm because of their close relationship with and reliance on nature, states the United Nations Environment and Programme (UNEP) in its charter for Human rights and Diversity.
The “30 under 30” goal is the key concern where Indigenous communities are looking for bigger cooperation. The target to protect 30 percent of land and sea areas has come to embody the environmental ambition at COP15. The target, which has large-scale support, would see protected areas increase from 15 percent of land and 7 percent of the ocean to 30 percent for both by 2030. The contentious issues in it revolve around the areas beyond national jurisdiction, protected areas of indigenous people and communities and the provision of means of implementation to ensure effective protection.
According to the UNEP reports, traditional indigenous territories encompass around 22 per cent of the world’s land surface and they coincide with areas that hold over 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity. While indigenous groups account for about 5 percent of the world’s population, their lands safeguard about 80% of Earth’s remaining plant and animal species, according to the World Bank. Even though, Indigenous people have lived in harmony with nature, their voices have not been well-represented at global forums.
On Friday, Dinamam Tuxa, executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, at a news conference said that Indigenous voices must be at the heart of any COP15 biodiversity commitments to ensure that funding and other resources get to the communities at the forefront of the fight. Indigenous people are often best suited to protect against biodiversity loss through traditional knowledge, customary laws, sustainable use of natural resources, and collective land ownership and management practices.
At COP15, the importance of involving Indigenous communities in the fight to preserve biodiversity has been reiterated. Indigenous groups have expressed a range of concerns about the negotiations at COP15. According to reports, while some fear the “30 by 30” target could be used to take away their land under the guise of conservation, others believe the goal is not ambitious enough. Overall, groups agreed that any summit deal should deliver more authority to indigenous people in deciding what happens on their lands.
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