“Of course, the targets are global, but politicians behind 30 by 30 have played with the confusion between national and global targets,” said Soria, a campaign director.


Protected areas refer to clearly defined geographical spaces of land or ocean that are conserved long term to safeguard their rich biodiversity, the environmental benefits they provide and their cultural value, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

However, environmentalists say the quality of protected areas also matters, such as where they are located and how they are run.

Experts from the IUCN have called for them to include globally significant biodiversity, to be effectively governed and managed, representative of global ecology, and well-connected with other protected areas.

“The question is whether they will be able to agree on all of those technical aspects,” said Charles Barber, director of natural resources governance and policy at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a US-based think-tank.

Barber said there are several complex issues facing COP15 negotiators in deciding which natural areas should count as protected, and the diversity of the planet’s nature means it is hard to find a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

As with “loss and damage” at COP27, where a committee was established to recommend new funding arrangements for worst-hit climate nations, Barber said he expects COP15 negotiators to create a technical working group to iron these issues out.


A large proportion of the world’s remaining biodiversity lies within the traditional lands of indigenous peoples and local communities, such as tropical and boreal forests.

One criticism of nature protection has been that such communities have been evicted from their lands in the process of setting up protected areas – a practice often referred to as “fortress conservation”.

More than 250,000 people in 15 countries were evicted because of protected areas from 1990 to 2014, according to data compiled by the Rights and Resources Initiative, a group that works on forests and local development.

Valérie Courtois, a professional forester and director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, said COP15 should recognise the rights and responsibilities of indigenous peoples and respect their conservation leadership on these lands.

She said indigenous people offer a “global model” for sustainable stewardship, and in Canada they usually protect over 60% of their territories.

“This is the path out of the climate and biodiversity crises: if we take care of the land, the land takes care of us,” Courtois said. “We are glad to see Canada and the rest of the world starting to catch up with indigenous ambitions.”


According to a 2020 report from the World Economic Forum, more than half of the world’s total GDP is dependent on nature and its services, which means nature loss poses a significant risk to the world’s economic health.

However, there are costs associated with conservation, particularly for biodiversity-rich developing countries that lack sufficient resources – such as the tropical rainforests in Brazil and Indonesia, which are yet to back the 30 by 30 goal.

“The level of ambition on spatial targets will need to be balanced against what they see as the level of ambition on funds,” said Barber from WRI.

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