To mark the first week of COP15, Survival International has selected its Top 5 of the worst statements made by governments and NGOs during the proceedings and accompanying interviews:
1. “30% is not a random number”: Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, referring to the 30×30 plan. “We have not chosen that 30% number at random. It is the critical threshold according to the greatest scientists to avoid the risk of extinction and also to ensure our food and economic security.”
Unfortunately for him, one of the main architects of the 30×30 plan, Eric Dinerstein, had previously explained that it was completely arbitrary. The target, therefore, has no scientific basis.
2. “Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction”: António Guterres, UN Secretary-General. In his opening address, this line had alarming echoes of the narrative espoused by ecofascists – that “humanity” is a toxin, or virus, in its effects on the natural world.
But the majority of humankind has contributed almost nothing to climate change, and many, like Indigenous peoples, manage, enhance and conserve nature, and see themselves as part of it. So far from all “humanity” being responsible for environmental destruction, the problem is overwhelmingly caused by overconsumption in the Global North, fossil fuel emissions, and the exploitation of natural resources for profit, all led by multinational corporations.
3. “The more people there are, the more we put the Earth under heavy pressure… We are at war with nature”: Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme UNEP. The concept of “overpopulation” is often used to deflect blame away from those most responsible for the climate and biodiversity crises, and to criminalize those who contribute least to them and suffer their consequences more cruelly (Indigenous peoples and other local communities).
The real causes of biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change are not the increasing number of people in the Global South, but the exploitation of resources for profit and growing overconsumption led by the North.
4. Not allowing any extractive industries under 30×30 is “hardly realistic”: Ladislav Miko, European Commission. The EC’s “biodioversity envoy” revealed just how meaningless the 30×30 plan is, by letting slip that in fact mines, oil and gas drilling, logging and more will be allowed in the supposed “Protected Areas” to be created under the plan.
For Indigenous peoples this was no surprise: they have for decades been evicted in the name of conservation from lands they’ve managed and protected since time immemorial, while extractive industries, mass tourism and trophy hunting are welcomed in.
5. “What do we want? Nature positive. When do we want it? 2030”: “Non-state actors gathered to address delegates on their way to the #COP15 discussions” including… Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF.
The epitome of virtue signalling. “Nature positive” is a meaningless slogan that sounds nice but covers up a tidal wave of greenwashing and abuses. And here it’s proclaimed by the head of the world’s biggest and most notorious conservation organization, that has funded abuses for years while covering them up and partnering with the world’s most polluting companies.
In addition, “nature positive” opens the door for the destroyers of biodiversity to simply buy their way out with some “nature offsets,” such as monoculture tree plantations. As with 30×30, this will likely result in massive land grabs that will be devastating for people and the planet.
Fiore Longo, head of Survival’s Decolonize Conservation campaign said today: “These are just a few of the terrible statements to have come out of COP this week. It just goes to show that the future of the planet cannot be left in the hands of the governments, conservation organizations and corporations at COP15. The only effective way to protect biodiversity is to recognize the land rights of Indigenous peoples, while fighting against the real causes of biodiversity loss – such as overconsumption led by the Global North.”