Wildlife & Biodiversity

Commonwealth adopts ‘Living Lands Charter’ for future generations

Document at CHOGM Rwanda comes after 2 years of consultation, engagement and negotiation with Commonwealth members, UN Rio Convention & other stakeholders

By Shagun
Published: Monday 27 June 2022

All 54 Commonwealth members have agreed to voluntarily dedicate a ‘living land’ in their respective countries to future generations, in line with the strategy set for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

The non-binding ‘Living Lands Charter’ mandates that member countries will safeguard global land resources and arrest land degradation while acting against climate change, biodiversity loss and towards sustainable management. 

The Living Lands Charter helps to encapsulate the combined effort to hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. 

The document came after nearly two years of intense consultation, engagement and negotiation with member countries, UN Rio Convention  and other relevant stakeholders was announced June 25, 2022 at the conclusion of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali. 

Leaders and their representatives noted with concern in the charter the alarming decline in the health and productivity of global land resources. More than a third of land having been degraded in the last two decades and recognised that the vulnerabilities of the ecosystems to land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are closely interrelated and need to be considered collectively.

It aimed to support member countries to effectively deliver their commitments under the three Rio conventions — UN Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The attendees also underlined the “critical guardianship” provided by indigenous peoples and local communities in protecting land and vital ecosystem services, and recognised the land and resource rights of these communities, in accordance with national law and international instruments.

The agreement was released along with a final wide-ranging communiqué by leaders, including on specific items on climate change. Country heads underscored in it that the “urgent threat of climate change” exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and presents a significant threat to COVID-19 recovery efforts. Developing countries, least developed countries and Small Island developing states were particularly at risk of their development gains being reversed. 

According to statement issued by CHOGM 2022, leaders recognised that this requires “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions”, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net-zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gasses.

They recognised that enhanced support for developing country parties will allow for higher ambition in their actions.

The leaders “deeply regretted” that the goal of developed country parties to jointly mobilise $100 billion (Rs 78.5 lakh crore) per year by 2020 had not yet been met. They called on developed countries to fully deliver on the $100 billion goal urgently and through to 2025 and emphasised the importance of transparency in the implementation of their pledges. 

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