The climate, biodiversity, water and health crises raise the crucial question of how we protect land while also producing food, fibre and biomass. Although this topic was addressed at the UN Food Systems Summit and at COP26 in 2021, the debate revolves around only two options presented as polar opposites: land sparing – high input, intensive farming that allows large portions of land to be “spared” for nature; and land sharing – biodiversity friendly low-input farming that shares land more equitably between nature and humans.
In parallel, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to be discussed at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), targets the protection of 30% of land and marine areas by 2030 (30 x 30 target). This target is fiercely debated because of: 1) its declarative nature, i.e., with no commitments on means and indicators; 2) its decoupling from the use of agricultural and forest areas, i.e., what is to be done with the remaining 70%? and 3) questions of State sovereignty, people’s land rights and environmental justice, i.e., in what geographic areas of the world and according to which forms of governance will the extension of protected areas be carried out?