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Beware human rights abuses in name of conservation, warns indigenous activist – live Jair Bolsonaro attacks 'international greed' over Brazil's rainforests – live
(32 minutes later)
Indigenous rights, the need for green Covid recovery plans and a Marshall plan for nature raised by leaders in summit’s opening remarksIndigenous rights, the need for green Covid recovery plans and a Marshall plan for nature raised by leaders in summit’s opening remarks
We are going to take a short break now before the next leaders dialogue. It will be chaired by Angela Merkel and Imran Khan on addressing biodiversity loss and mainstreaming biodiversity for sustainable development.
That will begin at 3pm in New York and 8pm UK time.
Prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to protect 30% of land in the UK by 2030 has been cautiously welcomed by conservationists. But they warn that targets need to be legally binding to avoid the creation of “paper parks” that fail to safeguard nature in practice.
Johnson announced at a virtual UN event on Monday that an additional 400,000 hectares of land in England would be protected for nature, with the promise of “ambitious goals and binding targets”.
Johnson joined 64 leaders from around the world to make pledges to tackle catastrophic nature lost ahead of today’s summit. The announcement was very welcome but the government overestimates how much land is effectively protected, said Craig Bennett, chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts. Many of the country’s designated wildlife areas are in poor condition and do not support the wildlife they are meant to provide refuge for.
Bennett said:
In England, 26% of land is protected, but an estimated 5% is being well managed for nature. This existing land needs to be much better protected for the prime minster to deliver on this pledge. “Instead of creating more pointless ‘paper parks,’ the prime minister needs to lay out concrete plans and binding legal targets to halt and begin to reverse the decline of nature on land and at sea by 2030,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace.
The announcement comes after analysis by RSPB found the UK failed to reach 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets, because pledges were not matched by action on the ground, resulting in a “lost decade for nature”.
We risk another decade of failure unless biodiversity pledges are put into domestic law like Paris climate agreements, said Martin Harper, director of global conservation at the RSPB. “If then properly backed by a reformed systems of farm payments and new dedicated resources for habitat restoration, which would allow places like our national parks to become an engine for nature’s recovery, we’ll then have a fighting chance to revive our world,” he said.
A 2019 State of Nature report found one in ten UK species is threatened with extinction, with 41% of species in decline. Caroline Lucas, MP for the Green Party, said it was not enough to “talk about protecting nature on the one hand then undermine that action on the other”.
President Jair Bolsonaro has also been hitting back at Democratic candidate Joe Biden about the comments he made about the Amazon in last night’s debate.
Boris Johnson has been addressing the summit.
The platitudes are over. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro delivered a robust message to the summit: We will continue to take advantage of our environmental wealth. Taking aim at NGOs and foreign governments “interfering” with Brazil’s sovereignty, he rejected “international greed” towards the Amazon rainforest.The platitudes are over. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro delivered a robust message to the summit: We will continue to take advantage of our environmental wealth. Taking aim at NGOs and foreign governments “interfering” with Brazil’s sovereignty, he rejected “international greed” towards the Amazon rainforest.
Dismissing “unfair” international rules, Bolsonaro said said states have “rights to use their natural resources.” Dismissing “unfair” international rules, Bolsonaro said states have “rights to use their natural resources.”
“That’s precisely with that we intend to do with the huge wealth of resources in the Brazilian territory,” he said. “That’s precisely what we intend to do with the huge wealth of resources in the Brazilian territory,” he said.
The Brazilian leader finished by reminding the summit of the three pillars of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: conservation, the sustainable use of resources and benefit sharing.The Brazilian leader finished by reminding the summit of the three pillars of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: conservation, the sustainable use of resources and benefit sharing.
Dr Alexander Lees a senior lecturer in conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University has reacted to the statement from the Polish president:Dr Alexander Lees a senior lecturer in conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University has reacted to the statement from the Polish president:
Bolivian president Jeanine Áñez tells the summit that current economic development models have led to unprecedented changes to the planet, including the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. She says Bolivia is among the most biodiverse countries in the world, listing the amphibians, mammals and flora that are endemic to the South American country. Áñez finishes by reconfirming her country’s commitment to multilateralism to combatting biodiversity loss.Bolivian president Jeanine Áñez tells the summit that current economic development models have led to unprecedented changes to the planet, including the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. She says Bolivia is among the most biodiverse countries in the world, listing the amphibians, mammals and flora that are endemic to the South American country. Áñez finishes by reconfirming her country’s commitment to multilateralism to combatting biodiversity loss.
Please refresh the blog from time to time. We are updating and tweaking posts as we go.Please refresh the blog from time to time. We are updating and tweaking posts as we go.
The meeting has technically adjourned for two hours but due to the quantity of world leaders that want to make a statement, the pre-recorded videos have continued.The meeting has technically adjourned for two hours but due to the quantity of world leaders that want to make a statement, the pre-recorded videos have continued.
We will bring you the most important news lines from speakers and analysis on what has been said so far.We will bring you the most important news lines from speakers and analysis on what has been said so far.
The summit makes it clear conserving biodiversity improves human well-being. While this may be true on a macro scale, conservation can have real local costs and the tradeoffs are far from simple, says Prof Julia P G Jones, a conservation scientist from Bangor University in Wales. She says:The summit makes it clear conserving biodiversity improves human well-being. While this may be true on a macro scale, conservation can have real local costs and the tradeoffs are far from simple, says Prof Julia P G Jones, a conservation scientist from Bangor University in Wales. She says:
Those involved in the talks are aware of the challenges faced by countries trying to reconcile conservation and development. Jones argues that these challenges should be more explicitly acknowledged. “This would help the global conservation community move forward more positively post-2020,” she adds.Those involved in the talks are aware of the challenges faced by countries trying to reconcile conservation and development. Jones argues that these challenges should be more explicitly acknowledged. “This would help the global conservation community move forward more positively post-2020,” she adds.
The pre-recorded statements from world leaders on nature to the summit have continued.The pre-recorded statements from world leaders on nature to the summit have continued.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa says the consumption of wild species and habitat loss are driving pandemics and biodiversity loss. He highlights the “complete interdependence between economic activity and human development. He calls for a change in consumption patterns and land management strategies, implementing sustainable and climate-friendly practises.South African president Cyril Ramaphosa says the consumption of wild species and habitat loss are driving pandemics and biodiversity loss. He highlights the “complete interdependence between economic activity and human development. He calls for a change in consumption patterns and land management strategies, implementing sustainable and climate-friendly practises.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta says 2020 has given humanity a chance to get back on track with its relationship with nature. Kenya is one of a small number of mega-biodiverse countries, he says, and must make sure it is protected.Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta says 2020 has given humanity a chance to get back on track with its relationship with nature. Kenya is one of a small number of mega-biodiverse countries, he says, and must make sure it is protected.
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari refelects on the flora and fauna that are facing extinction in his country.Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari refelects on the flora and fauna that are facing extinction in his country.
Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araújo – who has previously dismissed the climate crisis as a Marxist plot – had been listed to represent his country in the place of president Jair Bolsonaro but the South American leader will now speak. Governments will listen to what the Brazilian leader has to say with great interest as his stance on the environment could have a major sway over the final Kunming agreement.Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araújo – who has previously dismissed the climate crisis as a Marxist plot – had been listed to represent his country in the place of president Jair Bolsonaro but the South American leader will now speak. Governments will listen to what the Brazilian leader has to say with great interest as his stance on the environment could have a major sway over the final Kunming agreement.
Brazil has traditionally been a major player in UN environmental circles through its impressive diplomatic machine. But under Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn and many fear Brazil’s leader is steering his country towards environmental ruin.Brazil has traditionally been a major player in UN environmental circles through its impressive diplomatic machine. But under Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn and many fear Brazil’s leader is steering his country towards environmental ruin.
Last week the president hit back at the UN general assembly for a second year in a row about how the Amazon has been treated under his leadership, claiming Brazil was the target of a “brutal disinformation campaign”.Last week the president hit back at the UN general assembly for a second year in a row about how the Amazon has been treated under his leadership, claiming Brazil was the target of a “brutal disinformation campaign”.
Greenpeace has created ice sculptures of presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro to expose the urgency of the nature crisis and the failure of both administrations to address the issue. Activists placed the sculptures on the pier facing the UN building where the meeting would have taken place.
The message reads; “Faces of Extinction: Fuelling a planet in crisis”.
“Trump and Bolsonaro administrations are the faces of extinction as they are pushing radical agendas that are destroying nature, driving biodiversity collapse and exacerbating the climate emergency,” said Arlo Hemphill, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace US.
Jair Bolsonaro will address the summit shortly.
The presidents of Colombia and Peru have just given statements to the summit. Both are major players in UN biodiversity circles and signatories to the Leaders’ Pledge on Nature, which over 70 governments and heads of state backed before today’s talks.
Colombian leader Iván Duque urges other countries to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, embrace nature based solutions and make changes in the industries that have the biggest economic impact.
“That is the challenge of our age,” he concludes.
Peruvian president Martín Vizcarra Cornejo echos calls from other leaders for multilateralism and cites several local examples of how Peru has taken action to protect its biodiversity.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a pointed remark about being at the forefront of fighting climate change, despite his country bearing “negligible responsibility for historical emissions”. He also says Turkey is working on a biodiversity roadmap to to 2050 without giving concrete promises about what landmarks will be involved.
Polish president Andrzej Duda boasts about the country’s “centuries-old heritage of nature conservation”, saying the wealth of the country’s forests – which cover 40% of its landmass – have been “preserved and multiplied”. He says protection of biodiversity is “one of the biggest challenges for civilisation” and talks passionately about the size of the country’s bison population.
Guardian columnist George Monbiot has written about the UN summit and the biodiversity pledges by world leaders.
Read the full piece here.
French president Emmanuel Macron has given the pick of the early statements. He says that environmental agreements must be coherent. He cites the example of the European Union not signing a trade deal with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – the bloc known as Mercosur – over fears it would cause more deforestation in the Amazon. He says that 2021 must be “a year of action”.
Before that, Malawian president Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera spoke on behalf of the Least Developed Countries group. He expressed his dissatisfaction at the world’s failure to meet any of the previous decade’s biodiversity targets and called for more financial resources and technological support for conservation efforts.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, reaffirmed her commitment to the Kunming process.
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is up next.
For all the talk about the importance of this summit, the secretary general António Guterres has left because of prior engagements.
More than 130 organisations including Friends of the Earth International, Survival International and Indigenous Environmental Network have signed a letter criticising the biodiversity summit for not representing communities who are most affected by the destruction of nature and who also play an important role in preserving it.
The letter, from the CBD Alliance, says indigenous people, local communities, women, youth, indigenous farming systems and small-scale food producers are not adequately represented at the summit. It criticises the UN for providing a a prominent role to corporations and financial actors who are responsible for biodiversity destruction.
The letter states:
Statements by world leaders and governments have just started with the Guyanese president Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
The president of the 75th UN general assembly, Volkan Bozkır, tells the summit that world leaders have not stuck to the time limits on pre-recorded statements about biodiversity and, as such, there won’t be time to play them all.
We will bring you the highlights.
Protecting at least 30% of land and sea is the headline target of the draft Kunming agreement for the next decade’s biodiversity targets. But Indian indigenous youth activist Archana Soreng has warned that it could be the “biggest land grab in history”.
Removing indigenous communities from their land to protect nature is “colonial and environmentally damaging”, the member of the Khadia tribe continues, warning that human rights could be abused en masse in the name of conservation if world leaders are not careful with how the implement protections.
Here is an infographic of a recent study about increasing protected areas.
Prince Charles is speaking as we get towards the end of the introduction, telling the summit he was immensely flattered to be invited. The Prince’s comments are focused on what he calls a “blue-green recovery”, talking of an urgent need to embrace circular economics with a Marshall plan for nature. Establishing functioning carbon markets, developing carbon capture and storage, and creating a market for ecosystem services are all key, he says.
“We are at the last hour. We know what we need to do. Let’s get on with it,” the Prince concludes.
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