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South Africa still lags behind in showing public support for the Global 30×30 Goal

Only two days to go to convince South African Leaders to join over 80 countries, including more than 20 African nations, in Supporting the Global Goal of Protecting at least 30% of the World’s Land and Sea by 2030

Time is running out to protect nature — that is the clear message from the 30×30 NOW campaign which aims to highlight the severity and urgency of the biodiversity crisis that South Africa and the world is facing and champion the global goal of protecting at least 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030. South Africa still lags behind in showing public support for this essential global target and has yet to join a group of over 80 countries, more than 20 of which from Africa —calling for this goal.

As President Ramaphosa highlighted at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) a month ago, we live in one of the regions of the world that is most affected by climate change. Globally, species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 times above natural levels. This has resulted in nearly 1 million plant and animal species facing extinction, many within the decade, and in Africa 50% of their bird and mammal species could disappear by 2100, meaning we are potentially entering a sixth mass extinction. If left unchecked, our food, water, and medical sources are at risk, and climate change will be further accelerated. 

However, overwhelming scientific evidence shows that conserving at least 30% of our land and sea globally can not only curb this biodiversity loss but also store carbon, tackle climate change, help prevent future pandemics, create jobs, and bolster economic growth – it’s a win-win. Biodiversity protection can and should be part of the new consensus that President Ramaphosa is looking for. 

Launched on the 11th February, exactly 30 days from the start, this Sunday, of the UN Convention on Biodiversity’s fourth and final round of negotiations on the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the 30×30 NOW campaign has just two days left to convince Minister Creecy and DFFE delegates to change their stance on South Africa’s support for the global 30×30 goal.

Often considered the “little sister” to the UN’s Climate Conferences Of the Parties (the most recent of which was COP26 in Glasgow), the Biodiversity COPs convene the UN Member States, including South Africa, from around the world to decide upon a set of goals and targets aimed at halting the further loss of biodiversity. While lesser-known, the decisions made here are no less serious than those made at COP26, and many would argue they are as important if not more urgent. One such goal to be decided at the next biodiversity conference, or COP15, is Target 3 which includes the provision of protecting 30% of the world’s land and sea, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity through equitably managed, economically representative, and well-connected systems of protected areas. 

South Africa is no stranger to the benefits of protected areas. As one of only 17 megadiverse countries globally, both the government and NGOs have been working tirelessly to protect our country’s rich natural heritage while promoting both novel, inclusive and traditional ways for local communities to live in harmony with nature. Furthermore, far from conflicting with economic development – expanding conservation outweighs the costs of achieving this by a ratio of at least five-to-one and offers vast potential for creating jobs and sustainable incomes, particularly in rural areas. Nature holds the key to South Africa’s employment crisis.

We stand in a unique position to be a leader on the African continent; not only have we increased both our marine and mainland areas — standing at an admirable 15.5% and 15.6%, respectively — but South Africa has identified its future protection targets within its National Protected Area Expansion Strategy.  More recently, Minister Barbara Creecy, at a pre-COP15 meeting in October, further clarified that South Africa will increase its terrestrial protection by 0.5% per year until 2036 from almost 16% to 23%.  Despite this show of momentum in the direction of protecting 30%, South Africa is still dragging its feet.  The 30×30 NOW campaign has highlighted the astonishing work already being undertaken by South Africans, demonstrating that we are already in a strong position to contribute to this global goal.  

In an OPEN LETTER to Minister Creecy, signed by over 5 000 South Africans to date, the following call for action was made: 

“Minister Creecy, South Africa is already well on our way to contributing significantly to the global goal of protecting 30×30 – and we have valuable insights and knowledge on how protected areas can create inclusive growth – but it’s not enough. 

The people of South Africa call on you to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and support Target 3 in the Global Biodiversity Framework and the inclusion of the 30×30 target in Geneva at the UN CBD negotiations.

We are already walking the walk – it’s time we talk the talk and show the world South Africa is a forward-thinking environmental leader. “

If South Africa speaks up, our country can pave the way for more support across the continent, guarantee the rights and knowledge of our people and local communities are respected and ensure the new GBF is one that is inclusive and effective. 

And vitally, South Africa can drive increased funding for Africa, helping to shape the development of, and commitment to, the financial resourcing mechanisms provided by the global community to support developing nations achieve this critical target.

30×30 NOW believes South Africa is working hard for a better future for nature and people, but it is not enough. We must show the world our leadership by committing to the global 30×30 target. We must embrace our shared responsibility to one another.  As President Ramaphosa noted in the recent State of the Nation Address “The path we choose now will determine the course for future generations.”

ACTION: To join the 30×30 NOW campaign’s public call to South Africa’s leaders, click this Change.org Link to add your name on an Open Letter to Minister Creecy: https://www.change.org/Support_30x30NOW .  DM

 

For more information on the 30×30 NOW campaign, head to www.30x30NOW.co.za

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