The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) is currently being held in Cancun, Mexico.
Commitments have been made at COP13 to support Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ (IPLCs) in their actions related to the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
In anticipation of the two-week meeting, the Cancun Declaration was adopted by all parties to the CBD. The declaration was the outcome of the High Level segment - the meeting of ministers and other heads of delegation, who met on December 2 and 3. It makes seven statements and 18 commitments, including commitment 16:
“Undertake actions to strengthen indigenous peoples and local communities’ capacities to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity by respecting their rights, the customary sustainable use of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of their traditional knowledge and practices.”
Forest Peoples Programme, which is attending COP13 to launch publication Local Biodiversity Outlooks, has welcomed this commitment.
Maurizio Farhan Ferrari, environmental governance coordinator at Forest Peoples Programme, said: “For centuries, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities have been using biodiversity sustainably as part of their traditional occupations and way of life. Through this sustainable use, they have also protected flora and fauna – some of which are now under severe threat from external actors. For some IPLCs, their very way of life is under threat as peoples are forced off their land.
“When so much of the world’s biodiversity is contained within the lands lived on and used by IPLCs, it is evident that the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 can only be achieved by partnering with IPLCs, supporting them and learning from their generations of experience. It is important that their sustainable use is also protected by greater respect and protection of their rights to their land and their ways of life. We therefore welcome the declaration.”
The Cancun Declaration makes further reference to the importance of IPLCs. It states that forests hold the ‘majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity’ and goes on to highlight the important link between biological and cultural diversity, by acknowledging that forests are also an essential element of cultural identity, spirituality and worldview, particularly for IPLCs.
On the topic of tourism, furthermore, the declaration outlines the importance of the industry “as a source of quality jobs, investment, training and development to improve peoples’ livelihoods, including by working with indigenous and local communities to support their aspirations.”