NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Maasai people of Tanzania, resisting government pressure to vacate their ancestral homes in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, have presented their demands for indigenous land rights to negotiators in Nairobi who are finalizing the to the proposed UN Global Biodiversity Framework.
Thursday’s appeal from the Masaai community of Loliando follows a violent clash with Tanzanian security forces two weeks ago, which forced many of them to flee to neighboring Kenya.
A ruling by the East African Court of Justice on the politically sensitive issue was expected this week, but has been delayed until later this year due to “inevitable circumstances,” a court statement said.
“We are accused by our government of destroying our environment and denied citizenship of Tanzania,” the Maasai said in their letter to the UN meeting on biodiversity. “This is our country’s fourth forced eviction. And our leaders are languishing in detention en masse. 20 of them are charged with murder. We cannot tell the world what happened because the media is forbidden to tell our story .”
Cases of abuse, torture and large-scale evictions continue to be reported among indigenous communities, such as those observed in Tanzania, where the Maasai community says it will have to relocate to create a protected hunting area.
The Maasai leaders were joined by civil society actors and other indigenous community leaders in their call for the inclusion and recognition of indigenous land, territories and property rights in the framework, which is expected to be endorsed by world leaders when they meet in Montreal, Canada in December this year.
“The only way this can be a strong tool is to include and ensure a strong human rights element and respect the role of indigenous peoples and local communities,” Lucy Mulenkei, co-chair of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, said in a statement. a press conference in the margins of the negotiations.
The Indigenous Forum has also called for free prior and informed land use consent, as well as a sound conservation financial mechanism.
“If we don’t have a framework to protect nature that truly recognizes and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who actually conserve biodiversity, humanity is at risk,” said Ramiro Batzin of the indigenous forum.
The global biodiversity framework will replace the older Aichi biodiversity targets agreed by UN parties at a 2010 convention on biological diversity in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture. None of the 20 goals of the Aichi agreements had been met by the 2020 deadline. The ongoing negotiations in Nairobi are a carryover of intense negotiations after a consensus was not reached in Geneva in March this year.
Major issues are still up for debate, with richer countries disagreeing with developing countries on various sticking points such as benefit-sharing, removing incentives for harm to nature, biotechnology, and financing for developing countries to bolster national goals and technology .
The proposed biodiversity framework seeks to address a number of global environmental problems, including pollution, climate change and other human-induced impacts on nature, such as illegal trade in wildlife, habitat loss and over-consumption.
Biodiversity decline and ecosystem degradation are exacerbating climate change, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It says the new framework should “aim to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve recovery by 2050.”
Associated Press climate and environmental awareness receives support from several private foundations. Read more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.