Locally-led action essential for achieving global biodiversity goals

One month from today, negotiators from around the world will meet in Geneva for crucial preparatory talks on the new global biodiversity framework. The framework aims to halt and reverse our current catastrophic loss of biodiversity. Locally-led action must be central to global biodiversity efforts, as Ebony Holland and Dilys Roe explain in this first blog in a new series ahead of the biodiversity talks this year.

Ebony Holland's picture Dilys Roe's picture
Insight by 
Ebony Holland
Dilys Roe
Ebony Holland is nature and climate policy lead in IIED's Natural Resources and Climate Change research groups; Dilys Roe is principal researcher in IIED's Natural Resources research group
14 February 2022
Countdown to COP15
A series of insights raising the profile of locally-led action on the road to and after the COP15 global biodiversity conference
A woman farmer tends her crops, surrounded by her crops

In Andhra Pradesh, more than 65% of farming is done by women (Photo: Deccan Development Society/IIED)

Next month’s meeting in Geneva is important for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the first time that negotiators under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have met in-person since the pandemic began.

And secondly, this 'bonus' round of negotiations, added when COP15 was delayed to later this year, provides an opportunity to increase ambition in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) and strengthen the foundations for enhanced action for nature over the coming decade.

The meeting follows a high-level session in October 2021, when leaders gathered virtually and in-person in China for Part 1 of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) for the CBD. At this meeting leaders agreed the Kunming Declaration (PDF), which provided insights on the level of ambition that will eventually be in the final GBF to be adopted later this year at COP15 Part 2.

This is the latest in a series of blogs raising the profile of locally-led action on the road to the COP15 global biodiversity conference in Kunming

Many will be closely monitoring next month’s discussions in Geneva. This is one of the final chances to get a sense for country positions on the draft framework – the updated ‘zero draft’ framework was released in September 2020 and 196 countries are negotiating its details to agree it at COP15 later this year.

However, despite two years of negotiations, there is something glaringly obvious missing from both the Kunming Declaration and the current draft of the GBF: a focus on locally-led action.

Locally-led action: essential, not optional

Locally-led action must be central to delivering the GBF and transforming our relationship with nature. Yet this is not expressed to its full potential in the current draft GBF.

Both the Kunming Declaration and the draft GBF recognise the rights of Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLCs) and the need to ensure their effective participation. Both also recognise the role of traditional knowledge in supporting biodiversity conservation.

These are welcome developments, but they don’t go far enough. There needs to be far greater recognition that, in the absence of locally-led action, achieving the ambitions of the GBF – to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity and live in harmony with nature by 2030 – is simply not possible.

Approaches are needed that truly put IPLCs in the driving seat – including directing funding and resources into their hands.

Solutions fit for purpose

IPLCs are the guardians of nature and biodiversity. Most of the earth’s biodiversity is located on the territories of the world’s half-billion Indigenous Peoples, who manage about a quarter of the world’s land.

Indigenous worldviews, cultural values and traditional knowledge typically promote ecological sustainability and equity. Non-Indigenous local communities are also vital stakeholders and stewards of nature but lack voice in some international discussions on biodiversity.

The target to conserve 30% of the earth's land and sea area by 2030 (the so-called '30x30' target) is the cornerstone of the framework. Given the land holdings of the world’s IPLCs, this target is within reach – with their support.

Without their support, efforts to meet the 30x30 target could result in negative impacts such as land grabs, resource restrictions and a return to inequitable 'fortress conservation'. This is not acceptable. The GBF must help strengthen IPLC rights, not undermine them.

IPLCs already have many of the land- and marine-based solutions to deliver the goals of the framework, and this needs to be better recognised. During this critical year for biodiversity, it is vital to highlight locally-led approaches that can deliver real solutions. This blog is the first in a new series showcasing how locally-led solutions are critical for supporting the delivery of the GBF.

Showcasing solutions; locally-led action in practice

IIED is committed to showcasing locally-led solutions and working with local partners to amplify their voices during COP15 discussions.

Throughout this blog series, we’ll explore not just why IPLC-led action is critical to delivering the framework but also how these solutions are already making change happen on the ground.

We’ll also stress the importance of the framework laying the foundation for transformative change towards more equitable governance, and unpack the issues surrounding nature and biodiversity financing, including what is needed to deliver finance to the local level to support locally-led action.

Of course, locally-led solutions on their own cannot solve the biodiversity crisis – they must work alongside a myriad of structural adjustments, including putting an end to subsidies that are harmful to nature, ensuring government policies and funding programmes are fit for purpose, and moving the private sector towards nature-positive investments.

In this very important year for nature, our blog series will explore these issues in the context of the continuing COP15 biodiversity talks. We will emphasise the need for everyone – governments, the private sector and all sectors working on development and conservation – to step up their commitment to locally-led action, including through the framework, to deliver better outcomes for climate, nature and people over the coming decade and beyond.