Survival International launches campaign to stop “30x30” – “the biggest land grab in history”

April 22, 2021

The 30×30 plan will be the biggest land grab in history. © Survival

This page was created in 2021 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Survival International today (Earth Day) launched a major new campaign to stop the plan to turn 30% of Earth into Protected Areas by 2030.

The plan by world leaders and conservation organizations is expected to be discussed at President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate (April 22-23), and to be agreed at the COP15 summit in China in October.

But Survival International has warned that it would constitute “the biggest land grab in history.” Three hundred million people stand to lose their land and livelihood, many of them tribal and Indigenous peoples.

The organization has labelled the plan the #BigGreenLie.

Fiore Longo, head of Survival’s conservation campaign, said today: “The plan to carve out 30% of the earth as ‘protected areas’ is a #BigGreenLie. It is a plan without scientific basis, that will do nothing to combat climate change or the loss of biodiversity, but will increase human suffering and the destruction of nature. It is a deadly distraction from what is urgently needed to secure human diversity and all biodiversity: the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights to their land.”

The campaign is being launched with a new video, narrated by Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey, that exposes the #BigGreenLie.

More than 230 organizations and experts have signed a letter expressing concerns over the 30% target.

These Khadia men were thrown off their land after it was turned into a Protected Area. They lived for months under plastic sheets. Millions more face this fate if the 30% plan goes ahead. © Survival

Among Survival’s key objections to the plan are:

- Land-grabbing: if the plan goes ahead, 300 million people stand to lose their lands, which will be turned into Protected Areas. The creation of almost every Protected Area in Africa and Asia has involved the theft of people’s land without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Dozens more stand to be created if 30×30 goes ahead.

- Abuses: Tribal and Indigenous peoples whose lands have already been turned into Protected Areas have been the subject of appalling abuses going back decades, including rape, torture and murder. Most of these abuses have been committed by rangers backed and funded by big conservation organizations including WWF and WCS.

- A false “wilderness” solution: The 30×30 plan is just the latest plan produced by Western conservationists that erroneously sees tribal peoples’ lands as “wilderness” to be preserved for the common good, rather than as land they have managed and protected over time. Tribal peoples stand to be evicted and dispossessed to provide the comforting – but false – illusion of a solution to a problem they didn’t create.

Survival’s Fiore Longo said today: “This is a critical moment. If world leaders will meet on 22 April and discuss business as usual, the outcome will be more false, unscientific, racist and colonial proposals, such as the 30% project and nature-based solutions.

“But outside the corridors of power, criticism is building. More and more people see clearly that this will be a catastrophe from a human rights perspective: Indigenous and other local people in the Global South will pay the price for environmental destruction they didn’t cause. And from an environmental perspective, it simply won’t work: kicking Indigenous people off their land to create Protected Areas won’t help the climate. On the contrary, Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the natural world and an essential part of human diversity that is a key to protecting biodiversity. Their land rights must be recognized.”

Update May 2021: The original version of this news piece stated that “Three hundred million people stand to lose their land and livelihood, most of them tribal and Indigenous peoples.” The sentence should have read “Three hundred million people stand to lose their land and livelihood, many of them tribal and Indigenous peoples.” This has now been corrected, and we apologize for the error.


- The video is narrated by a variety of actors, musicians and activists in different languages:
    English: Poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey
    French: Actress and author Audrey Vernon
    German: Actor and singer Maya Alban-Zapata
    Italian: BAUTISTA (Giorgio Spedicato aka Machweo and Gustavo Aaron Saavedra aka 999asura)
    Spanish: Zapoteca musician Mare Advertencia Lirika