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From use of genetic resources to care for biodiversity

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

I am in Geneva at the UN conference on biodiversity from 12 – 29 March 2022 to speak on behalf of Mother Earth and all her living beings - whales, tigers, deer, birds, elephants, giraffes,worms, rivers, oceans, soil, air, bees and trees.

As I arrive at the CICG conference center, I am delighted they let me place our roll-up banner entitled: “Rights of Nature in the CBD” in the entry hall. The biodiversity convention is more complex than the climate agreements, whose goal is to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Having 3 main goals in the CBD, interests sometimes overlap, which makes the negotiations more challenging.

About the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Opened for signature in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and entering into force in December 1993, the CBD is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 196 Parties, the CBD has near universal participation among countries. The CBD seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous peoples and local communities, youth, women, NGOs, sub-national actors and the business community. (Excerpt from the press release of the CBD, see full press release here:

There are specific draft targets such as protecting 30% of land and sea, reduce agricultural pollution such as nitrogen waste by 50%, which is mainly caused by fossil fuels and from industrial farming and reducing environmentally harmful subsidies.

The use of genetic data in a digital form – called “digital sequence information”, (DSI), seems to be a great cause of disagreement. Countries from the Global South insist that any deal must include a financial mechanism that would compensate them for discoveries using digital forms of their biodiversity.

Including the Rights of Nature as a transformative tool in the CBD: Rights of Mother Earth has worked for two years with a wonderful team from the Earth Law Center, Rights of Nature Sweden and Earth Advocacy Youth to include Rights of Nature in the post 2020 framework of the CBD, as a transformative tool. It was accepted in the zero draft, but got replaced with «rights-based approach» in the first draft. Although we support the mention of “rights-based approach”, we are concerned that if it is left undefined, it will not benefit the protection of biodiversity or the local communities.

Following this negotiation process with awe and great interest, I was able to submit the following text from our team and hope it will be included:

«We support the presence of “rights-based approaches” in the theory of change and enabling conditions and urge the parties to the post-2020 framework of the CBD to specify and define rights-based approaches, by explicitly recognizing the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish, as an approach to promote Earth - centered governance. »

To accomplish this, we recommend the following footnote be added after ‘rights-based approach’ (RBA) to clarify its meaning:

[1] «RBA is an approach to conservation that respects, and seeks to protect and promote, recognized human rights standards, as well as the human right to a healthy environment, Indigenous rights, the rights of Nature, the rights of future generations of all species, biocultural rights, and others. Conservation with justice means that all State and non-State actors engaged in programs with potential impact on Nature, shall secure for all potentially affected persons (including natural communities, ecosystems and nonhuman beings) the rights that are guaranteed by national and international law.»

See our full recommendations here:

The state of Biodiversity: The world has lost over 60% of her biodiversity within the last 40 years. Nature across the globe has been significantly altered by multiple human drivers, with the great majority of indicators of ecosystems and biodiversity showing rapid decline. Seventy-five per cent of the land surface is significantly altered, 66 % of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85% of wetlands (area) has been lost. Excerpt from the ipbes report

Urgent action is needed for the protection of biodiversity. Rights of Nature could provide the missing transformative tool to shift this framework from the current anthropocentric world view to the much needed Earth centered approach. As for my self, I would like to see this transformation beginning with the language used in the framework. I would like to see words like “use of genetic resources” and “benefit sharing” replaced by honoring and protecting the source of life and caring.

Envisioning a future in Harmony with Nature, I invite you to sign the petition for a UN Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth here:

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