CBD meetings highlight the vital role indigenous peoples and local communities play in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use

Chief Kukoi (Tony James) presenting the work being carried out by the Wapichan people in Guyana in relation to community mapping

CBD meetings highlight the vital role indigenous peoples and local communities play in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use

Between 2nd November and the 7th November 2015 the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the Ad Hoc Open Ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in Montreal.

The documents produced by these two meetings include some important references to the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) and their contributions to the achievement of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, in particular in relation to community-based monitoring and information systems and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

The 19th meeting of SBSTTA referenced a forthcoming publication to be produced by FPP in collaboration with the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB). The title of the publication will be: ‘Outlooks on Biodiversity: Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ contributions to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. A complement to the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook’. The Secretariat of the CBD (SCBD) will be supporting the publication, which will highlight the pivotal role of IPLCs in helping to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as demonstrating the cross-cutting nature of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use (Target 18). The SBSTTA documents contain requests for the Executive Secretary to continue to engage with IPLCs ‘in the preparation of any communication products related to the Global Biodiversity Outlook’ which highlight the contributions of IPLCs to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets ‘with a view to ensuring that the visions, practices and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities are fully taken into account.’ Continued collaboration with IIFB on indicators was also recommended as this would help to demonstrate the connections between the different Aichi Targets.

Community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS) are one of the most useful and powerful tools IPLCs can use to assess changes in the landscapes they inhabit, consequently many examples of CBMIS will be included in the publication. CBMIS was discussed during the SBSTTA meeting and it was emphasised that CBMIS need to be supported and recognised as an important contribution to the Strategic Plan.  Parties were encouraged to raise awareness of the role of traditional knowledge systems and the collective actions of IPLCs as a partner to scientific knowledge when assessing biodiversity. The increasingly important role of ‘citizen science’ was similarly highlighted in an attempt to broaden the diversity of knowledge used in the achievement and monitoring of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The close collaboration between the CBD and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was another significant element of this SBSTTA meeting. This is important to IPLCs because IPBES has firmly recognised the need to integrate IPLCs’ knowledge into biodiversity assessments and policy making. A recent article on ‘Community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS) in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)’ featured in Biodiversity Journal highlighting the role of CBMIS in the CBD, IPBES and other relevant global processes aligns well with the deliberations in SBSTTA.

The 9th Meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) included detailed discussions on a set of voluntary guidelines on the implementation of free prior and informed consent (FPIC) in relation to traditional knowledge and on the repatriation of traditional knowledge. Discussions about the meaning and inclusion of ‘free’ in FPIC and ‘approval and involvement’ did not reach a consensus agreement and resulted in the Co-Chairs proposing to submit the terms to the next Conference of Parties meeting (COP 13) for consideration and final approval.

In addition to attending the plenary meetings for SBSTTA and the Working Group on Article 8(j), FPP and partners also hosted a side-event presenting their upcoming publication. Contributors to the publication from IIFB gave a series of vivid and engaging presentations on their case studies, which included examples of community mapping and descriptions of the use of traditional knowledge in addressing various Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including invasive alien species, ecosystem restoration and provision of benefits to local livelihoods, amongst others.