Comment: As talks on a global deal to protect nature begin in Nairobi, Kenya, countries need to create a new conservation designation for Indigenous Peoples’ land Women in the remote village of Lokolama in the DR Congo rainforest welcome an international research team working to identify the presence of tropical petalands in the area in 2017 (Photo: Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace) By Irene Wabiwa Betoko The world is waking up to a tragic fact, year on year: deforestation is happening on a scale and at a rate that amounts to nature collapsing. Some rainforests are already emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb, further destabilising the global climate. At current trends, all primary rainforest in the Congo basin – the world’s second largest rainforest – could be cleared by the end of the century. Given the grim state of the world’s forests, we need to seize every opportunity to do right with nature. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity summit, or Cop15, relocated to Montreal, Canada, in December this year could be the “Paris moment” for biodiversity, as the 2015 Paris Agreement was for climate. In Montreal, countries are expected to agree on a global framework to halt biodiversity loss this decade. As biodiversity negotiators convene this week in Nairobi, Kenya, to prepare the meeting, they must wake up to another crucial truth: Indigenous Peoples and local communities are better at managing their lands than anyone else. Colombia’s new president Gustavo Petro pledges to keep fossil fuels in the ground Data gathered across countries and continents consistently shows that when people living in forests are left to run them, the result is better-protected ecosystems and biodiversity than any other conservation model. Deforestation industries – whether loggers or agribusiness – are well aware of this. While they clear forests, Indigenous Peoples and local communities are being displaced,abused, and murdered. Delegations attending the biodiversity Cop15 summit are expected to discuss safeguards for recognising the rights and roles of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in conserving nature. So far, discussions haven’t included any concrete commitments. To protect biodiversity effectively, and ethically, Cop15 must recognise tangible protections for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. That should include creating a new and separate category for Indigenous land, one that puts them as the centre of decision-making and funding. Currently, there exists two types of conservation designation: protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures when conservation is supposedly achieved even though it isn’t the formal objective of land management. In Nairobi, countries should agree to create a third category for land which is fully governed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.