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Delving into Community Conservation and ICCAs at SBSTTA-20

10 May, 2016
Posted in biodiversity, Blog, CBD COPs, Indigenous Peoples

community conservation

Jeanette Sequeira*

Last week Global Forest Coalition (GFC), together with partners, organised an inspiring side event at the SBSTTA-20 meeting in Montreal entitled ‘Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Recommendations for Appropriate Recognition and Support of ICCAs and other Community Conservation Initiatives’*. The discussions delved into key issues relating to community conservation, work under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) in global databases, and the unique and invaluable role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and women in these spheres. Together with CENESTA, ICCA Consortium and other allies, GFC advocated for the importance of community conservation and traditional knowledge not only at the side event but also throughout the SBSTTA-20 and SBI-1 meetings.

Our aim is to have the substantial contributions and the unique, context-specific needs of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and women effectively recognised and supported in the CBD. It is also important to draw attention to the conservation experiences and strategies of communities in policy spaces. This is also highlighted in the Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI), which is a project led by GFC that aims to assess the resilience of community conservation initiatives in at least 60 communities in 20 countries.

The side event was very productive and attracted many other stakeholders. The discussion was facilitated by Edna Kaptoyo from the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of Tropical Forests. Mrinalini Rai from GFC spoke about the purpose of the CCRI and how recognition and support of ICCAs and community conservation can contribute to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, in particular to Target 11, and the various forms of support that the communities and their conservation initiatives still need to remain resilient.

Specific examples of the CCRI experiences in Panama and Russia were also presented. We heard from Onel Masardule from the Guna people in Panama who explained that Guna rely on traditional knowledge to conserve their natural resources; their conservation methodologies include, for example, to maintain the sacred sites, practise rotational agriculture and follow clear rules for conservation. We also heard about the experiences of three Udege communities in Russia. Andrey Laletin from Friends of the Siberian Forests explained some of the threats that Udege communities face, for example, poor transport infrastructure and lack of recognition and respect for the rights of Udege by the government and timber industry. In particular, the Udege face competition over their resources especially local salmon stocks as a result of commercial fishing. Despite these threats, many Udege and Guna community members are still champions of traditional knowledge and conservation efforts and are working hard to maintain their livelihoods. It was encouraging to hear about these diverse perspectives and the enthusiasm felt by many communities regarding their conservation work and traditional knowledge.

The CBD Secretariat’s Gender Programme Officer, Tanya McGregor, talked about the relationships between gender, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and the Convention. She highlighted provisions under the Convention that address the needs for full and effective participation of indigenous women. In particular she outlined the areas of the 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action that call for actions by Parties and the Secretariat to support engagement and capacity building of indigenous women and advance community conservation.

Lastly, Heather Bingham from the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) introduced the audience to the topic of ICCAs in global databases. UNEP-WCMC manages two databases on protected and conserved areas of the world, including the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA – www.protectedplanet.net) and the ICCA Registry (www.iccaregistry.org). UNEP-WCMC has also started drafting a manual for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and those who work with them, on the different databases and how and why to submit information to these databases.

Ultimately, it was a fruitful event that brought out many interesting ideas and a stimulating Q&A at the end. To have a space to share the contributions and significance of community conservation with other stakeholders in this policy forum is crucial. GFC and our partners will continue to spread this message about the important role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and women in biodiversity conservation and in sustaining our planet.

*Jeanette Sequeira is the Gender and Indigenous Rights Policy Advisor of GFC

* Global Forest Coalition (GFC), CENESTA and ICCA Consortium together with other partners participating in the Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI) organised a side event at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Twentieth Meeting of Subsidiary Body on the Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) 25-30th April, in Montreal, Canada. Following the SBSTTA meeting was the First Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) 2 – 6 May, in Montreal, Canada.

Speakers at the side event:
Mrinalini Rai (Global Forest Coalition, Thailand), Onel Masardule (Foundation para la Promotion del Conocimiento Indigena – FCPI, Panama), Dr. Andrey Laletin (Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia), Tanya McGregor (CBD Secretariat, Canada), Heather Bingham (UNEP-WCMC, UK) and facilitated by Edna Kaptoyo (International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of Tropical Forests, Kenya).