Call for Rights of Nature in the Convention on Biodiversity


Support the Rights of Mother Earth and Bold Action at the UN Biodiversity Conference December 7 - 19, 2022 in Montreal, Canada

Dear Friends:

Earth Law Center (ELC) is sending a delegation to the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, in Montreal in December 2022! We will join our many partners who have worked with ELC for over two years to advance the Rights of Mother Earth and other ecocentric legal paradigms within the global biodiversity treaty, called the Convention on Biological Diversity. Negotiators hope to finalize an ambitious plan on how to implement the biodiversity treaty for the next decade.


Biodiversity is collapsing. Since 1970, global populations of monitored mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish plunged by 69 percent, according to a recent report. (ELC appeared on CBC Radio last month to discuss the report and possible solutions.) Biodiversity loss does not receive the same attention as climate change despite being similarly urgent. But this year, 10,000 people will attend the biodiversity conference in Montreal. Let's make our voices heard!


Please read the below letter then sign on in support here. 


The following letter will be delivered directly to U.N. delegates and negotiators and shared with international press. Sign here.

To the Heads of Delegations negotiating on behalf of their governments and constituted groups, a global mass extinction event is undeniably underway.

Due to human industrial activity — and the failure of global leaders to meet previous biodiversity targets set in 2010 — one million species now face extinction, many within the next few years. 150 species are lost every day. The implications of this loss of life for global security and the survival of humankind are urgent and dire: Because the natural systems upon which we depend for food, health, and survival are collapsing at an alarming rate, a tsunami of adverse consequences is already being felt and observed across our economies, food systems, and the climate. 

As such, the decisions you make this December at the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada, will be the most consequential in human history. These negotiations to set new targets to protect biodiversity and prevent mass extinction in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will determine the survival of all life on Earth as we know it. 

We, the undersigned artists, advocates, and organizations, urge you to agree upon and adopt urgent targets to protect at least30% of lands and oceans by 2030, with an ultimate goal of 50% protection, in alignment with climate science. Per the 2021 Global Safety Net report, achieving these targets will reverse the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. 

Secondly, as noted in the Global Safety Net report, Indigenous lands overlap extensively (37%) with critical ecosystems that must be protected to prevent catastrophic biodiversity loss and climate change. Therefore, we call for the urgent protection and strengthening of Indigenous rights and territories in the Global Biodiversity Framework.

Thirdly, we urge developed nations to commit the maximum amount of funding to support developing countries to reach these targets. Per the United Nations’ 2021 State of Finance for Nature report, committing just 0.1% of GDP to protect biodiversity would prevent ecological collapse. However, current funding commitments leave a $4 trillion gap in meeting critical biodiversity targets. Global superpowers and developed nations now have a historic opportunity to lead our world to safety by uniting behind frontline developing nations in an unprecedented and historic effort to prevent mass extinction.

Finally, we urge every government and negotiating party to support the adoption of the Rights of Mother Earth as an approach to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework, particularly in Targets 11, 15, and 19.1. Doing so would align with the current global shift in public awareness of humanity’s relationship with, reliance on, and inherent connection to nature. It would also support reciprocal relationships with nature, reflect the knowledge of many Indigenous communities, and establish the strongest international law possible to align environmental protection with human interests over the next decade.

Protecting our lands and oceans is as critical to addressing the climate crisis as reducing global emissions. Mangrove forests sequester four times the amount of carbon as tropical forests yet have been decimated by farming and aquaculture industries. Industrial fishing leads to the annual killing of 100 million sharks, keystone species that regulate critical ocean ecosystems that sequester carbon. A mere 3% increase in deforestation in the Amazon will push the world’s most vital carbon sink past its tipping point, altering the Earth’s climate and human life forever.

Meeting U.N. targets to limit global warming to 1.5°C requires bold, urgent international action to draw down existing atmospheric carbon by restoring natural carbon sinks and protecting keystone species that keep these ecosystems healthy. The forthcoming U.N. Biodiversity Conference this December is a crucial first step to accomplishing this bold action over the next decade. We urge you to take the above actions to prevent mass extinction, defend global security, and protect life on Earth.  


Sign the letter here as either an individual or organization.

Want to learn more? See our below report on how the Convention on Biological Diversity can support the Rights of Mother Earth and an ecocentric law perspective! 


Linked here you will find our textual recommendations and concise rationale for supporting the Rights of Mother Earth in the GBF. Recommendation here


Why is including Rights of Nature in the legal systems and a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth needed?

On average, we’ve seen an astonishing 60% decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in just over 40 years, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020. The top threats to species identified in the report link directly to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and the excessive use of wildlife such as over-fishing and over-hunting.

The report presents a sobering picture of the impact human activity has on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers, and climate. We’re facing a rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for everyone—everyone—to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect, and restore nature.

Nature Conservation Facts from Ecowatch

Nature provides us with countless services, supplying us with fresh water, clean air, food, medicine, energy and above all, life itself. Ecosystem services contribute an estimated $125 trillion to $140 trillion a year to the world’s economy — nearly 7 times the GDP of the U.S.1 But ultimately, natural resources are so fundamental to our lives that we could never express their value in dollars. See here for the Top 25 Nature Conservation Facts of 2022