Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay has called on the government to introduce a Rights of Nature Act as scientists, government officials and activists gather for today's UN COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal.
The Act would extend legal protections for wildlife and habitats in England and Wales, and establish an independent Commission for Nature to oversee the Act’s enforcement. The co-leader highlights that the ‘regeneration of nature should be at the heart of all policy-making’.
Ramsay has also accused the environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, of arriving “empty handed” at the UN COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal. He said a Rights of Nature Act is exactly what is needed to demonstrate the UK is genuinely committed to halting and reversing species decline.
Last week, Green peer Natalie Bennett presented the key issues around wildlife crime in England and Wales, and spoke on the sixth annual report published by the Wildlife and Countryside Link. She highlights the little progress being made to make wildlife crime notifiable – which is important ‘so that the government has statistics on its scope and scale, an essential precursor to getting the necessary resources and approach to comprehensively tackle it’.
Adrian Ramsay commented: “This government stands accused by a wide variety of environmental and conservation groups of an attack on nature. Ministers deny this, but the government is pushing through new laws that will weaken protections for nature and dragging its feet on introducing the promised nature-friendly farming payment scheme.
“Despite the UK being one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, Thérèse Coffey is attending the UN biodiversity summit empty handed.
“There is little confidence in the government meeting its target to halt the decline in species by 2030, and the government appears to have made no progress on its commitment to restore 30 per cent of land for nature by 2030.
“Instead, the pace that we are losing nature continues to accelerate and there is no sign of a reversal in this trend. We face an ecological emergency which poses real threats to human society – to food and water supplies, to clean air, to our ability to adapt to a warming world.
“This is why the Green Party wants to see a Rights of Nature Act. This would provide legal protections for wildlife and habitats in England and Wales, and be enforced by an independent Commission for Nature. It would also ensure that the regeneration of nature is at the heart of all policy considerations.
“Such an Act would also seek to increase accessibility to nature for all, as this is an important way to improve physical and mental health and general wellbeing.
“If the UK government wants to demonstrate a genuine commitment to halting and reversing species decline, and avoid arriving at future biodiversity summits empty handed, it will show leadership by introducing a Rights of Nature Act.