Categories Convention on Biological Biodiversity, Publications, World

Implementing a human rights based approach: A briefing for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

A new briefing presents what is urgently needed to effectively adopt a human rights-based approach across the implementation, monitoring, and reporting of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework

First published on 03/14/2022, and last updated on 03/19/2022


  • Applying a human rights-based approach to implementing the new post-2020 agenda has enormous potential to facilitate transformative changes and halt biodiversity loss.
  • This briefing seeks to provide overarching recommendations and detailed text proposals, including the monitoring framework, to support implementing a human rights-based approach.
  • Failure to adequately incorporate the protection of human and environmental rights defenders would mean risks for expanding violations of human rights and increased destruction of biodiversity.

Download the full briefing in English and Spanish

This week, at the United Nations in Geneva, as part of the negotiation of the future global biodiversity framework, the governments are discussing the global aim of ‘living in harmony with nature.’ This aim can only be achieved by including strong human rights protections for the guardians of the world’s ecosystems, the Indigenous Peoples, and local communities who conserve and steward the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity. 

“A human rights based approach is crucial to a successful Global Biodiversity Framework. The future of any successful framework requires the integration of human rights across all issues – not just in environmental agreements, but more holistically, in agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and our entire ways of life.”

Lucy Mulenkei, Co-Chair of the IIFB

A human rights-based approach (HRBA) applied in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework would mean that biodiversity policies, governance, and management do not violate human rights. Those implementing such policies should actively seek ways to support and promote human rights in their design and implementation.

The effective implementation of a real human-rights-based approach requires a more holistic approach than currently suggested in the draft of the framework. It requires strengthening and improvements across all aspects of the framework but especially regarding: goals, targets, monitoring framework, enabling conditions, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)

This briefing seeks to provide overarching recommendations and detailed text proposals, including the monitoring framework, to support the effective implementation of a human rights-based approach.

The Human Rights in Biodiversity Working Group, established in Chiang Mai, 2020, has collaboratively compiled this 3rd human rights analysis of ”Draft One of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”. 

The authors from the Group urge the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to effectively integrate and strengthen a human rights-based approach. As for now, the human rights-related advancements are not sufficient, and without further improvement, the framework risks falling short of its ambition to achieve transformative change, they argue.

With this latest brief (3rd Volume), the Human Rights in Biodiversity working group has published the 3rd and thus far most hands-on policy brief on implementing, monitoring, and reporting a human rights-based approach in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Key messages on a Human-Rights-Based Approach: 

  1. A human rights-based approach means, in simple terms, that biodiversity policies, governance, and management do not violate human rights and that those implementing such policies actively seek ways to support and promote human rights in their design and implementation.
  2. Indigenous peoples and local communities’ ways of life and territories are part of the solution to our global crises. They must be identified and supported across the framework, including recognizing rights over lands, territories, and resources, in area-based measures, in a customary sustainable use, in traditional knowledge, and full and effective participation.
  3. The rights of women and girls to participate are enshrined in the Convention. This requires disaggregation of data across Targets and Indicators and developing a specific Target (new 22) and associated indicators.
  4. The rights of younger and future generations, and our responsibilities to them, are intergenerational and sacred. Transformative education and full engagement of children and youth in the design and implementation of this framework will be essential to enable us to live up to those responsibilities.
  5. Review, reporting, and monitoring constitute critical elements of this framework. Review and refine the national reporting format and develop effective non-State channels for commitments to be registered and for additional data to be provided.
  6. The monitoring framework, agreed indicators, data sources, and means of verification can only be finally established once the global biodiversity framework is complete. This may take longer than the planned meetings in Geneva, and an additional inter-sessional meeting dedicated to the monitoring framework should be called.

This human rights analysis of Draft One of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework has been collaboratively compiled by members of the Human Rights in Biodiversity working group established in Chiang Mai, 2020. Members contributing included Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), CBD Alliance, Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), ICCA Consortium, Natural Justice, Tebtebba Foundation, WWF International, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Friends of the Earth International, the CBD Women’s Caucus, Women4Biodiversity and SwedBio at Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The resumed meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Geneva are underway, where governments from around the world negotiate a new agreement to save nature, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Later this year, the framework is set out to be adopted at the UN COP15 meeting in Kunming, China. The overall vision? Living in harmony with nature. In this context, a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is necessary for stopping biodiversity loss and degradation in an equitable and sustained way.

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