World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Human Rights Must Be At Heart Of UN Plan To Save Planet – Expert

GENEVA (19 August 2021) – The UN’s draft plan to preserve and protect nature must be amended to put human rights at its centre if we are to ensure the future of life on our planet, David Boyd, UN special rapporteur on human rights and environment, said today.

“Leaving human rights on the periphery is simply not an option, because rights-based conservation is the most effective, efficient, and equitable path forward to safeguarding the planet,” he said. “I urge Member States to put human rights at the heart of the new Global Biodiversity Framework.”

Boyd made the call ahead of an October conference in Kunming, China, where representatives of 190 governments will finalise the UN Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, addressing threats to biodiversity, human well-being and the future of life on Earth.

“States must depart from a ‘conservation as usual’ approach in order to save biodiversity and ensure the fulfilment of human rights for all,” said Boyd. “A more inclusive, just and sustainable approach to safeguarding and restoring biodiversity is an obligation, not an option.”

The Kunming biodiversity summit will work on the draft framework released in July by the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. It aims to establish a “world living in harmony with nature” by 2050, in part by protecting at least 30 percent of the planet and placing at least 20 percent under restoration by 2030.

“This new framework is of vital importance because accelerated efforts to expand protected areas have unfortunately proven insufficient to stop or even slow the tidal wave of environmental destruction sweeping the planet,” said Boyd.

The rapid expansion of protected areas to cover 30 percent of Earth’s lands and waters is essential to conserving biodiversity, Boyd said, but must not be achieved at the expense of further human rights violations against indigenous peoples and other rural people.

He said special attention must be paid to the rights of indigenous peoples, people of African descendant, local communities, peasants, rural women and rural youth, none of whom are adequately prioritized in the current draft despite recent improvements.

These individuals and groups “must be acknowledged as key partners in protecting and restoring nature,” Boyd said. “Their human, land and tenure rights, knowledge, and conservation contributions must be recognized, respected, and supported.”

He cautioned against “fortress conservation” approaches aimed at restoring “pristine wilderness” free from human inhabitants, saying this approach has had devastating human rights impacts on communities living in targeted areas, including indigenous peoples and other rural dwellers.

The current draft Framework fails to mention human rights, “overlooking the fundamental fact that all human rights ultimately depend on a healthy biosphere” Boyd said.

“States must improve the draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework by guaranteeing that rights-based approaches are obligatory in all actions to conserve, restore, and share the benefits of biodiversity, including conservation financing.

“It is also imperative that the Framework acknowledges that everyone, everywhere, has the right to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a right which includes healthy ecosystems and biodiversity,” he said.

Expanding on his report to the General Assembly in October 2020, “Human Rights Depend on a Healthy Biosphere”, Boyd has now developed a policy brief calling for a more inclusive, just and sustainable approach to safeguarding and restoring biodiversity, and outlining the human rights costs and limited efficacy of exclusionary conservation. An executive summary is also available.


David R. Boyd (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment starting 1 August 2018. He is an associate professor of law, policy, and sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: UNHCR Chief Urges Better Support For 13 Million 'Exhausted' And Displaced Syrians
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has urged greater international support for the more than 13 million Syrians who’ve been displaced in the past 10 years...More>>

>UN: Recent Kosovo-Serbia Tensions Could ‘Unravel Steady But Fragile Progress’

Tensions over vehicle licence plates and anti-smuggling operations, between authorities in Kosovo and Serbia, in recent weeks, may contribute to unravelling “steady but fragile progress made in rebuilding trust among communities” in Kosovo and Serbia...

ITUC: Nobel Prize In Economics Explodes Minimum Wage And Jobs Myth

The prize was awarded to David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens for real-world research in the 1990s that demonstrated, empirically, that the idea touted by conservative economists that higher minimum wages mean fewer jobs is not based on fact... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: With Clock Ticking, Sustainable Transport Key To Global Goals
From electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, new and emerging technologies along with innovative policy changes, are critical for combating climate change. But to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest... More>>

COP26: 7 Climate Action Highlights To Remember

A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum... More>>

UN: Global Leaders Set To Act To Increase Energy Access While Reducing Emissions At First UN Energy Summit In 40 Years

Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are expected to be announced on 24 September at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy... More>>