Our last E-newsletter (April 2010) reported that a group of indigenous experts on sustainable use issues within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the '10(c) team', planned to highlight the link between secure land and resource rights and the protection and maintenance of customary sustainable use of biological resources by indigenous and local communities. This was to take place at the 14th meeting of the CBD's Subsidiary Body on Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-14) in Nairobi, Kenya (10-21 May). Unfortunately, in the event, delegates did not follow the indigenous experts' proposals to include concrete text on this issue in the final SBSTTA recommendations. Discussions on the use and management of wildlife ('bush meat') also caused indigenous peoples great concern and created impassioned debate.
Promoting customary sustainable use In the context of the in-depth review of the implementation of Article 10 of the Convention (on sustainable use), the '10(c) team' was preparing to address the lack of progress in the promotion of customary sustainable resource use by indigenous and local communities (the focus of CBD Article 10(c)). One main aim was to get the SBSTTA to acknowledge and agree that secure land and resource rights are vital where customary use is concerned. It is a fundamental requirement of forest peoples to maintain and practise customary use and traditional activities in their daily interaction with biodiversity.
While 'addressing obstacles and devising solutions to protect and encourage customary sustainable use of biodiversity by indigenous and local communities' was the specific focus of one of the paragraphs in the SBSTTA meeting document on sustainable use, the team's call on Parties to prioritise the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights to their lands and resources, as a means to enhance protection and encouragement of customary sustainable use of biodiversity, did not get any support.
Although the Parties agreed on other possible measures, such as incorporating customary sustainable use of biological diversity into national biodiversity strategies, policies, and actions plans, and promoting indigenous and local communities' participation in decision-making and management of biological resources, it is striking that Parties are still reluctant to adopt concrete references to land and resource rights. The '10(c) team' will continue to press for these again at CBD COP10 in Japan in October 2010, where the recommendations of the SBSTTA will be adopted as final decisions.
'Bush meat' On a similar note, indigenous peoples, in particular representatives of hunter-gatherer communities in Africa, had serious concerns about a paragraph in the SBSTTA document in which the Conference of the Parties was recommended to adopt the recommendations of a 'Liaison Group on Bush Meat' on the hunting of wildlife, as a complement to the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (AAPG).
Hunters and gatherers who use wildlife resources for their livelihoods did not participate in the meetings of this Liaison Group. Only 'experts' from governments, science and conservation organisations were involved in the drafting of the recommendations, to which the indigenous peoples at the SBSTTA-14 meeting had many objections. They pointed out that guidelines on the hunting of wildlife should recognise and respect both indigenous peoples' rights to use wildlife resources for their livelihoods, as well as traditional knowledge about sustainable use and management of wild animals. They were also concerned that the Liaison Group on Bush Meat did not sufficiently differentiate between the commercial use of wildlife by poachers and others and the small-scale, sustainable use of wildlife by indigenous peoples for daily subsistence. If adopted as a supplement to the AAPG, the Liaison Group on Bush Meat's recommendations could unjustly and adversely affect indigenous peoples' practices and livelihoods.
Fortunately, the Working Group agreed only to 'welcome' the recommendations rather than to 'adopt' them, but it remains a concern that the organisations working to combat the 'bush meat crisis' work in such a top-down manner and demonstrate little understanding and consideration of indigenous peoples' customary practices. The proposed 'community sensitisation' and 'capacity building' programmes for local communities on sustainable wildlife use and management, presented during a side-event by members of the Liaison Group on Bush Meat, are examples of this dubious approach.
Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Use The SBSTTA also deliberated the convening of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Sustainable Use, which would be tasked to develop recommendations for the improvement of policies, guidelines, certification schemes and best practices for sustainable agriculture and forestry, to be submitted to the CBD COP11 (2012). A small drafting group headed by Canada (in which indigenous peoples did not participate) drafted a short terms of reference (ToR) for this AHTEG. As there was insufficient time to discuss this ToR in detail, it was decided to leave it in draft form and invite the Parties to submit views and comments in writing inter-sessionally.
To the disappointment of the indigenous peoples, the SBSTTA only requested the Executive Secretary to solicit views from Parties on this draft ToR. Luckily, Finland and Switzerland flagged that it would be 'polite' to also ask for views from non-parties, such as relevant (international) organisations, and this was accepted by other Parties.
Although not explicitly referring to indigenous peoples and local communities, it will provide indigenous peoples important opportunities to share their ideas and views on the work of such an AHTEG. Indigenous peoples' organisations will most certainly send in their views on the AHTEG soon. One of their suggestions will be that the AHTEG should also address customary sustainable use, and analyse obstacles and develop recommendations to protect and encourage customary sustainable use of biodiversity by indigenous and local communities. They will also put forward that the ToR for the AHTEG should ensure the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the AHTEG. The revised terms of reference, which will include the views of Parties and others, will be submitted to COP10.
See the related link for : Outcomes of the discussions on sustainable use at SBSTTA-14 which contains the following:# UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/14/L.4 In-Depth Reviews of Implementation of the Programme of Work on Article 10 of the Convention (Sustainable Use of Biodiversity) and Application of the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines# Draft recommendation submitted by the Chair of Working Group II# Documents on other issues discussed by the SBSTTA can be found here as well.