On 13 August 2021, the journal Science published an article titled, Integrate biodiversity targets from local to global levels, that included ACB executive director Mariam Mayet and research and advocacy officers Linzi Lewis and Andrew Bennie as co-authors.

We are honoured to be part of this incredible team of African scientists, conservationists, and community leaders offering a paradigm that transcends the neo-colonial conservation model – being both nature-positive and people-centred – in the build-up to COP15, where the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) will be adopted by members of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

We emphasise the need to repair humanity’s relationship with nature, by focussing on the second objective of the CBD i.e. Sustainable Use, to shift the current framing on biodiversity conservation, which has failed to curb biodiversity loss over the last decade and has reached a critical tipping point. We need to act now, and need the targets in the framework to be holistic, integrated and implementable.

The “Shared Earth, Shared Ocean” framework offers guidance to refocus attention to local contexts and local solutions, through ecosystem restoration, upscaling existing conservation efforts using Community-Based Natural Resource Management, and moving beyond formal conservation areas to ensure connectivity across and into agricultural and urban areas.

Agricultural biodiversity is central to this new framing, and requires the knowledge and custodianship of indigenous and local communities, particularly smallholder farming communities, ensuring secure land tenure and the recognition for diverse and equitable governance systems.

As we look towards the future, we need to radically transform the relationship between people and planet. Drivers of biodiversity loss must be removed, and equitable solutions based on local realities must be integrated at global levels of decision making.

This critically important African think-piece aims to offer us new ways to move forward and avoid following the same, failed siloed approaches that in their crafting have often excluded the regions and voices of those most affected. Africa is indeed leading the way. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback, and moving into the future together.

The ACB team

A shared earth vision focuses on areas that urgently need to be part of imagining a new world, including agricultural and urban areas, based on biodiversity, secure land tenure, and equitable governance to restore and regenerate Earth’s functions.

– Mariam Mayet

The paper shows an African vision for biodiversity protection–a holistic view of ecosystems: shared spaces, local agency & people’s rights. Humans’ role in reproducing biodiversity, especially agrobiodiversity, is central for a flourishing Earth.

– Andrew Bennie

Indigenous people & local communities, including small-scale food producers, are custodians of biodiversity and ecosystems. We must be guided by them on how to conserve, sustainably use, and restore degraded lands, to ensure a viable and liveable planet.

– Linzi Lewis