Key Messages

Climate change is a universally urgent issue that impacts all nations, with interlinked consequences for economies, societies, and ecosystems. At the seat of this problem lies the unchecked, irreversible land-use change affecting about 32 per cent of the Earth’s terrestrial area. COP28 provides an opportune moment to shed some light on prioritising nature and biodiversity conservation, alongside carbon-centric strategies.

The upcoming thematic day for Nature, Land Use, and Oceans (9 December) at COP28 holds promise for discussions on these interlinked decisions. Building on the momentum of the CBD COP15 — which established the 30x30 biodiversity goal (conserve at least 30% of the land and water bodies by 2030) — nature and climate co-benefits are expected to take centre stage this year, given the Sustainable Development Goals mid-term review. However, unlike the broad scope of climate change, working with nature warrants context-specific knowledge that impedes widespread consensus. Additionally, apart from knowledge-sharing and governance challenges, there is an inadequate involvement of stakeholders — especially indigenous communities who oversee roughly 20-25% of land hosting 80% of biodiversity and 40% of terrestrial protected areas. The State of the World’s Forests Report, 2022, shows that 91% of community lands conserved by indigenous peoples can be maintained in good to moderate ecological conditions, signalling their custodianship for nature-based climate action. The outcome of the Global Stocktake this year is likely to highlight nature from the ecosystem services lens, particularly for its potential to capture carbon. However, it is crucial to move beyond the carbon-centricity of climate conversations and bring nature conservation and locally led, rights-based approaches to the forefront. COP28 offers a unique opportunity to interlink environmental conservation, sustainable land management guided by indigenous knowledge, and effective climate action, fostering a holistic and inclusive strategy to address the global challenge of climate change.

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Amplifying voices for nature at COP28