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A farmer tries to pour water on an area close to an illegally lit fire in the Amazon rainforest, south of Novo Progresso in the Brazilian state of Pará on August 15, 2020. (Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

A farmer tries to pour water on an area close to an illegally lit fire in the Amazon rainforest, south of Novo Progresso in the Brazilian state of Pará, on August 15, 2020. (Photo: Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

As UN Biodiversity Talks Begin, 360+ Groups Blast Corporate-Backed 'Nature-Based Solutions'

"Corporations and governments must cut carbon emission at source, rather than use NBS for greenwashing," said a Friends of the Earth International campaigner.

Jessica Corbett

While another United Nations meeting focused on a global biodiversity framework kicked off in Geneva on Monday, hundreds of groups and people urged negotiators to avoid so-called "nature-based solutions" that corporations push so they can keep polluting the planet.

"What corporations and big conservation groups call 'nature-based solutions' is a dangerous distraction."

Ahead of a press conference planned for Tuesday, 364 organizations, networks, and movements along with 128 individuals from 69 countries circulated a joint statement that has gained more support since circulating during a major climate summit late last year.

"Planting trees, protecting forests, and tweaking industrial farming practices, they claim, will store enough extra carbon in plants and the soil to cancel out the greenhouse gas emissions they pump into the atmosphere," the statement says of corporate polluters. "What corporations and big conservation groups call 'nature-based solutions' is a dangerous distraction."

The statement continues:

When corporations and big conservation groups talk about "nature," they mean enclosed spaces devoid of people. They mean protected areas guarded by armed rangers, tree plantations, and large monoculture farms. Their "nature" is incompatible with nature understood as territory, as a life space inseparable from the cultures, food systems, and livelihoods of the communities who care for it and who see themselves as intrinsic parts of it. What's more, behind a marketing front of genuine agroecology and natural regeneration initiatives, backers of "nature-based solutions" are preparing to advance yet more harmful practices such as monoculture tree plantations and industrial agriculture.

"Nature-based solutions" are thus not a solution, they are a scam. The purported solutions will result in "nature-based dispossessions" because they will enclose the remaining living spaces of Indigenous peoples, peasants, and other forest-dependent communities and reduce "nature" to a service provider for offsetting corporations' pollution and to protect the profits of those corporations most responsible for climate chaos. Indigenous peoples, peasants, and other forest-dependent communities whose territories are being enclosed will face more violence, more restrictions on their use of their land, and more outside control over their territories.

Rather than relying on a "false corporate solution," the international community must swiftly end destructive practices driving the related climate and biodiversity crises, the statement asserts, calling for a "rapid, time-bound plan" to keep coal, oil, and gas reserves in the ground and overhaul industrial agriculture to "avert catastrophic climate chaos."

Representatives of groups backing the statement echoed its messages Monday.

"'Nature-based solutions' has Big Ag, Big Oil, and Big Pharma behind it," said Tom B.K. Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network. "We are seeing a huge push for policies that falsely claim to save Mother Earth—the planet. The reality will be more land grabbing from Indigenous peoples' lands and territories."

"'Nature-based solutions' has Big Ag, Big Oil, and Big Pharma behind it."

Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN similarly warned that "if we let Big Oil, agribusiness, and other giant corporations offset their emissions with what they call 'nature-based solutions,' we will not only allow them to continue polluting the atmosphere but also to create a giant new farmland grab at the cost of small-scale farmers and global food production."

"We need to promote food sovereignty instead, which is the best way to keep farmers on their land while fighting the climate crisis," argued Hobbelink.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran of Friends of the Earth International said that "in crucial Convention on Biological Diversity meetings this week, 'nature-based solutions' is being presented as necessary for biodiversity, but really, all NBS does is use nature to offset ever-growing carbon emissions, at the expense of the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, who are biodiversity's true custodians."

"Commercializing biodiversity and offsetting are not the answer to the climate or biodiversity crises," she added. "Corporations and governments must cut carbon emission at source, rather than use NBS for greenwashing."

The discussions being held over the next two weeks follow the "Kunming Declaration" that over 100 countries issued in October. Nations that have signed on to the Convention on Biological Diversity plan to finalize the framework at a summit in China, scheduled for April and May.

In anticipation of the ongoing event, top environmental groups declared earlier this month that the rich countries most responsible for the global biodiversity crisis should pour at least $60 billion per year into addressing the destruction of nature in developing nations.


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Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

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