The following article was published by IUCN here: http://www.iucn.org/about/union/commissions/ceesp/?8772/Indigenous-peoples-r
Stefan Disko (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs), TILCEPA member Helen Tugendhat (Forest Peoples Programme)
At the recent meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Working Group on traditional knowledge, innovations and practices (Article 8(j) and Related Provisions) , which took place in Montreal, Canada, from 31October to 4 November 2011, Forest Peoples Programme and indigenous and local community partners, alongside the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), engaged in discussions with delegates and others about the development of a new “Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use”. This Plan of Action is intended to become a new major component of the already existing Programme of Work that serves to preserve, respect and maintain indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ traditional knowledge, innovations and practices that are related to sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.
Read update on the website of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, here:
Article 10(c) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) states that Parties shall: (...) protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements.
In terms of natural resource endowment, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. However its citizenry are amongst the poorest in the world. Some of the most impoverished and politically marginalized people – indigenous and local forest communities - live here. They mostly rely upon forests and other natural resources to secure their basic livelihoods through subsistence forest hunting and gathering, and small-scale agriculture. These forest peoples currently have little or no influence over national and provincial decisions about how their customary lands will be used by commercial or conservation groups, whose interests are often in conflict with forest communities’ needs, priorities and basic human rights.
Two meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which will deal with issues of relevance for indigenous peoples are scheduled in Montreal, Canada, in the first two weeks of November:
- The Seventh meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, 31 October - 4 November 2011, (WG8(j)-7), and
- The Fifteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, 7 - 11 November 2011 (SBSTTA 15).
In Africa, Asia and Latin America alike, forest peoples are speaking out against the continuing violations of their rights imposed by development and conservation plans that ignore their interests and deny them a voice. They go beyond resistance, insisting on their own ways of managing their lives, lands and forests.
Two peer-reviewed studies published recently show that strict conservation is less effective in reducing deforestation than community forests that are managed and controlled by Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities within multiple use systems (e.g. IUCN categories V and VI)
One study, by Porter-Bolland et al. from CIFOR, is a statistical analysis of annual deforestation rates as reported in 73 case studies conducted in the tropics. They find that deforestation is significantly lower in community-managed forests than in strict protected forests.
The other study on forest loss undertaken by the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (authored by Nelson and Chomitz) finds that some community-managed forests are located in areas with higher deforestation pressures than strict protected areas. Taking this into account, they find that community-managed forests are much more effective in reducing deforestation than strict protected areas (cf. summary table, p9). Where there is data, they find that forest areas managed and controlled by Indigenous Peoples are even more effective.
We, representatives of indigenous peoples’ communities, organizations and networks from Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and North America, came together to unite on how we can engage effectively with the preparatory processes and the conference proper of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio Plus 20. We thank the Ford Foundation, Fondo Indigena and UN WOMEN for providing the resources to allow for this meeting to happen. We also thank COICA, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Inter-tribal Committee and COIAB, for co-organizing this event.
We recalled our active participation in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and the parallel processes we organized which resulted into the Kari-oca Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration. The UNCED documents which included the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 recognized the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development and identified them as one of the 9 Major Groups.
It is unusual for Forest Peoples Programme to publicise World Bank publications, but we are delighted to highlight the important findings of a new study by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) which shows that protected areas are effective at slowing deforestation but are, by far, most effective when they respect the rights of indigenous peoples.
Conservation organisations have been making great strides towards recognising that protected areas must respect the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in international law, including the right to give or withhold their free prior and informed consent to the establishment of new protected areas in their customary territories. Yet in practice conservation organisations often continue to exclude local people from using forest and other resources, and only consult them after they have drawn up management plans rather than jointly writing them.
Canada’s Auditor General commented in her June 2011 report that living conditions in First Nations reserves are still much worse than elsewhere in Canada. Reflecting on her ten years in office, she argued that a fundamental change is needed to address this issue. In 2010, Canada finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) after being one of four governments to vote against it during its passage through the General Assembly in 2007.
In 2009 a group of Batwa representatives from Uganda travelled to Ogiek communities in Kenya to learn about their situation and the different advocacy strategies they were using. One of these strategies was the use of Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), which helped the Ogiek engage Kenyan agencies on their rights to their ancestral territory, the Mau Forest. The Batwa walked away from this visit impressed by the simplicity of the P3DM technique and hopeful of replicating it in their own context.
Two years later in June 2011, the Batwa, with support from the ARCUS Foundation, began their own three-dimensional modelling of their ancestral territory, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period.