I want to share one of the most powerful statements from COP15. At around 3:30 AM Monday when the Democratic Republic of Congo saw its reservations ignored as the will of the room was to get the draft decisions approved, the lead for the delegation from Namibia, Pierre Du Plessis, spoke. He referenced that he could speak freely, with retirement soon. His daughter’s 24th birthday is this week and he shared that he had missed twelve of those birthdays due to CBD COPs;
“Mr President, Namibia would like to congratulate you on crafting a very balanced package deal which makes everyone equally unhappy – which is a secret to reaching agreement in the UN system…
I want to start by saying that I have great sympathy for my colleague from the DRC because he comes from probably one of the most brutalized countries in the world. Those of you who read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness would recall that the Belgium colonizers chopped off the hands of people for not tapping enough rubber to meet their quotas.
And Mr President, that colonial injustice that is exemplified by what happened in the Congo is the origin of all the problems that we have encountered in this convention and in the relationship between humanity and biodiversity. We have suffered a systemic trauma that has disrupted the bond between humans and nature. That have led some countries to query whether we can include in this instrument a metaphor, a wholesome metaphor, like Mother Earth. The political objection to the idea that the earth is our mother!
Mr President if we are to have any hope at all of living in harmony with nature by 2050, we need to acknowledge that the global economic and financial architecture that came out of the violence of colonization, of resource extraction, of plantation agriculture, of colonialism to drive markets for the manufactures of the countries that are today rich and control the resources of the world. The whole developed vs developing narrative which has bedeviled our consultation forums for so many years needs a much more comprehensive and holistic solution than what we have managed to craft in this biodiversity framework.
[This agreement] is not the final step, it is not enough to live in harmony with nature by 2050. (…) Because we are very damaged, we are very sick. Our relationship with the natural world is in real, serious danger and that endangers all of life on this planet. Mr Chairman, thank you again for your leadership, thank you everyone for the adoption of this framework, but there’s a lot more work to do.”