COP15 (the UN global conference on biodiversity) has been in full swing this week in Montreal, Canada. This is the Conference of the Parties held by the United Nations with the aim to agree targets to protect and restore biodiversity in nature. The 30x30 initiative, which aims to protect 30% of the world’s land and waters by the year 2030 has had a lot of attention this week while the conference is taking place.
While 30x30 has been positioned as a global project that will benefit everyone in the world, the voices of those living in marginalised communities have not been present. These are the communities that will be most impacted by changes put in place around 30x30. As the Institute of Development Studies explains; “the blanket plan has the potential to remove indigenous, first nation and rural farmers, foragers and fishing communities from their livelihoods and lands in the name of environmental ‘restoration’. This is because most of the 30 percent of ecosystems that is targeted to be protected belongs to or is the traditional home of these communities.” (1)
There is a clear call from organisations like Amnesty International to put Indigenous peoples central in decision making around the 30x30 initiative. While no-one is disputing the need to protect biodiversity, the fear is surrounding the lack of consultation with the people that the initiative will impact the most.
As Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General explains; “There is an overwhelming weight of research showing that Indigenous peoples are the best conservators of biodiversity, which is reflected in the fact that 80% of the world’s biodiversity is to be found on Indigenous-managed lands.
“Without respect and protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples at the heart of the agreement, coupled with thorough and transparent assessment of the social impacts, the 30x30 target is not only bad for human rights, it is bad for conservation too.” (2)
For brands like Undo, using a number of ingredients in our formulations, it is really important to understand the big picture when it comes to its sustainability profile. Reducing carbon footprint is hugely important, the environmental impact, and the social climate in the places we source from is so deeply intertwined with sustainable sourcing. Sustainability is social, environmental and economic.
(Airmid Institute in West Africa, project focused on maintaining traditional knowledge whilst promoting sustainable use of local medicinal plants)
Our founder is a member of Airmid Institute, an organisation dedicated to the global education, research, and sustainable management of medicinal and aromatic plants. This organisation works closely with indigenous communities on projects and education surrounding traditional ecological knowledge of aromatic plants to support the ethical and sustainable sourcing of plant based ingredients. Undo founder Hannah Austin explains, "The Airmid Institute work hard to bridge the gap between our scientific understanding of nature and the insights from indigenous communities. They have also produced a list of threatened and endangered plants which is updated twice a year. We use this list as guidance on which ingredients to avoid. Having up to date knowledge of the everchanging landscape of the natural world is so important and Airmid Institute really help us with that."
COP15 is a great opportunity for the 30x30 initiative to be unpacked, through a diverse range of lenses and for the insights of those who know the land and oceans the best to be worked more meaningfully into the initiative. It's an ambitious and well meaning target, and so long as Leaders can start to address the concerns laid out around the approaches to achieve it, could be hugely impactful for our future generations.