The 18th session of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) was held in New York on 22 April-3 May 2019, with theme “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission and protection”.
On April 29, the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), World Resource Institute (WRI), UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC) and the ICCA Consortium brought multi-level stakeholders and relevant rights-holders together to discuss their on-going efforts for the Post-2020 global biodiversity framework development. This framework is expected to be adopted by CBD Parties at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in late 2020 in China. Participants included SGP Indigenous Peoples Fellows, Réseau des Populations Autochtones et Locales pour la Gestion des Ecosystèmes Forestiers d'Afrique Centrale (REPALEAC), Tribal Link, GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG), Conservation International (CI), World Conservation Society (WCS), Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) to name a few.
Mr. Delfin Ganapin, WWF’s Governance Practice Leader, opened the meeting with one of the many urgent issues for the future of our planet’s biodiversity: the appropriate recognition of the rights and responsibilities of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), including their collectively governed and conserved territories, lands and resources --- also known as ICCAs or “Territories of Life”.
With an estimated 3.8 billion hectares of lands de facto managed by indigenous peoples (as per latest indicative mapping by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and WCS), the potential for greater recognition and support is huge. Yet the challenges and dangers are also ramped up. Proposals such as “Half Earth” and “30 by 30” call for greater coverage of protected and conserved areas. There is a risk that without more nuance and specificity, such proposals could lead to continuation of the current status quo in many countries of state-run protected area systems that do not recognize the rights, responsibilities and governance systems of IPLCs. On the other hand, with greater attention being paid to biodiversity, there is also an opportunity to build global recognition of and support for ICCAs or “Territories of Life” and their multifaceted values and contributions to biodiversity and sustainable development.
In this context, participants brainstormed on how to produce a “State of ICCAs” assessment and organize the broad alliance and movement for advocacy. The signature report is aimed at illustrating some of the most effective and sustainable conservation efforts, namely, those of indigenous peoples and local communities who have deep relationships with their collective territories and governance capacity (de facto or de jure) to protect, conserve and care for those territories, and underscore the crucial importance of their appropriate recognition and support. It is expected to come out by early 2020 to support constructive engagement and advocacy at the national-to-global levels as part of preparations for CBD COP15. Organizations joining this effort, not only contribute robust data at various levels but also help build the political momentum to inform negotiations in the run-up to CBD COP15 in 2020.