The Australian and UN flags on Sydney Harbour Bridge (file image)
The Australian and UN flags on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

30 pct UN land grab claim is 100 pct wrong

David Williams November 20, 2023

Australia has signed an international memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will give the United Nations (UN) the authority to take 30 per cent of our land.


False. There is nothing in the MOU that gives the UN power to confiscate land.

It is being claimed a new agreement between the Australian government and the US has given the UN the power to confiscate 30 per cent of our land.

The claim relates to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Australia’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The claim is false. There is nothing in the MOU or related agreements and frameworks that relate to ceding land to anyone, let alone the UN. Nor does it in any way give the UN power to confiscate land.

Maria Zeee, a prominent spreader of misinformation, made the claim in an Instagram post (screenshot here) which featured one of her appearances on US conspiracy theorist Stew Peters‘ show.

The post’s caption reads: “Now we know why Albanese was in the U.S! The EPA and the Australian Department of Climate Change have signed a NEW, JOINT Memorandum of Understanding which will eventually lead to confiscation of at least 30% of U.S. and Australian land and hand it over to the United Nations.”

Fake claim
 The claim conflates a number of different environmental announcements. 

In the full interview, she expands on the claim and cites several environmental agreements and frameworks.

Ms Zeee makes reference to the MOU before mentioning the US and Australia’s existing “natural capital accounting” program which she claims could result in water being restricted to households based on their social credit scores.

She then says the two countries will meet next year to discuss progress at Sydney’s Global Nature Positive Summit and that a webpage associated with the summit features information on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

This framework, agreed at the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, features several environmental goals, including what is more commonly known as the 30×30 target.

The target is for nations to designate 30 per cent of their land and water as protected areas by 2030.

This is the source of Ms Zeee’s 30 per cent confiscated land figure.

She tells her followers that the UN is lying about its goal being to protect the environment.

“It’s actually about stripping countries of 30 per cent of ownership of their land and handing it over to the UN under the name of conservation,” she says.

The confused claim conflates several separate announcements about the environment.

Tanya Plibersek
 Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek signed the MOU back in October 2022. 

Notably, she suggests that the MOU is ultimately linked to the 30×30 target, which will lead to the UN confiscating land.

The MOU, which can be viewed in full here, doesn’t mention the 30×30 target or have anything to do with handing land to the UN.

It certainly does not give the UN any power to confiscate land.

Instead, it sets out provisions for sharing knowledge on environmental issues and information between the two countries.

Contrary to the claim, the MOU also explicitly states in Section 10 that it does not create obligations under domestic or international law, nor does it create any “legally enforceable rights or benefits”.

“(The MOU) will set up a new mechanism for the exchange of information about major environmental issues including national environmental laws and regulations, building a circular economy so that we divert more from landfill and sharing ideas to protect and repair nature,” a DCCEEW representative told AAP FactCheck in an email.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) sets out several goals and targets, of which the 30×30 goal is one. But nothing in the framework that has anything to do with ceding land to the UN either.

 Huge swathes of Australia’s land and waters are already protected areas. 

As previous AAP FactCheck debunks have explained, such targets and frameworks do not give the UN power to demand member states to do anything, let alone hand over their land or territory.

Additionally, the GBF specifically states that the target is “non-punitive” and respects “national sovereignty” (Section J, p13-14).

The full video features several other spurious claims relating to common themes of disinformation including smart cities and pedophile rings run by global elites.

Ms Zeee also declares the UN a “terrorist organisation” in the video and repeats a previously debunked claim about the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Verdict

The claim a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Australia and the US will give the UN the power to confiscate 30 per cent of land is false.

The claim conflates a number of separate environment-related announcements. However, the MOU has nothing to do with the target of designating 30 per cent of Australia’s land and water as protected areas by 2030.

Nor does the agreement give the UN the power to compel member states to do anything – let alone hand over territory.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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