World leaders, corporate bosses and conservation NGOs plan to meet in September 2021 for the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France. They will unite around making 30% of the globe “Protected Areas” and around “Nature-Based Solutions”, both of which they claim are urgently needed if rates of biodiversity loss and climate change are to be reduced. But if left unchecked, their schemes will make things worse.
Experience makes clear that these plans will lead to even more human rights violations and to the biggest land grab in history, perpetuated at the expense of those who are least responsible for these crises – Indigenous Peoples, who already protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity, and other local peoples, predominantly in the global South.
By far the most effective and just way to fight against biodiversity loss and climate change is to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, and put them at the heart of conservation and climate action. This fact is acknowledged in many policies and declarations, but action “on the ground” continues to dispossess and mistreat them.
An alternative and independent congress, “Our land, our nature,” will meet just before the IUCN’s official congress (both in person and by videoconference) to oppose the false solutions being promoted by it. The alternative Congress will give a platform to those who have suffered from supposed “green solutions”, and who have seen their lands stolen, their families destroyed and their livelihoods devastated by the increasing militarization of conservation.
The “Our land, our nature” congress will present an alternative vision of conservation, one which is already working, where Indigenous Peoples are in control of their own lands. This alternative relies on human diversity and protects and enhances biodiversity. It is anti-racist, anti-colonialist, and rooted in real social and climate justice. For real and practical solutions to the biodiversity and climate crises, we must listen to Indigenous Peoples and decolonize conservation.
The “Our land, our nature” congress, will be immediately followed, on September 3rd, by a press conference and a public demonstration (protest).
- To give a platform to the largely silenced or "invisibilized" Indigenous Peoples and local communities whose lives have been devastated by fortress conservation and the crimes of the conservation industry, and to communities and movements with an alternative vision of conservation
- To influence decision-makers at the IUCN’s Congress and challenge the ‘expand protected areas’ narrative; discourage the adoption of the 30x30 target (30% of protected areas by 2030)
- To show that another way is possible, putting forward a radical vision and actionable recommendations for protection of Earth’s biological and cultural diversity, which has Indigenous Peoples and local communities at the centre and which is rooted in rights and social justice
- Build a foundation for an ongoing coalition of people affected by protected areas, associations and members of civil society who want to change the way “conservation” is done: for Indigenous Peoples, for nature, for all humanity.
- Setting a strong counter-narrative in advance of the IUCN’s Congress and the Biodiversity COP 15 on the dangers/failings of fortress conservation and of Indigenous land rights as an alternative to the 30% proposal.