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.
The various CBD Work Programmes help and guide Parties to the Convention in the implementation of CBD requirements on particular issues at the national and sub-national levels. It is the task of the specialized Working Group to review and discuss this subject in detail, and to prepare a recommendation for the Conference of the Parties - the Convention’s decision-making body - where all new work under the Convention is officially adopted.
Most discussions in the Working Group focused on the agreement on an indicative list of tasks, and on a process to draft, refine, and eventually adopt the Action Plan in the coming years. The FPP and indigenous and local community partners team has provided considerable expertise and evidence on customary sustainable use of biological diversity by indigenous peoples and local communities in the last decade. Extensive information on this issue has been documented in various country case studies on customary practices, which also address the challenges and threats these practices are facing. Indigenous peoples were given ample time to provide views, explanations and suggestions, most of which received support from the rest of the Working Group. The adopted recommendations and the indicative tasks address several issues that are very important for the promotion and encouragement of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ customary sustainable practices, which is what Parties are required to do under Article 10(c) of the Convention.
The Working Group widely acknowledged the value and importance of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ customary sustainable use and traditional knowledge in conserving and upholding biodiversity, land- and seascapes, and protected areas. This is also reflected in the invitation to Parties to address and incorporate customary sustainable use in their national implementation plans for the Convention (National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs)). The Working Group has also taken some initial steps to integrate customary sustainable use as a cross-cutting issue throughout the Convention, starting with the Programme of Work on Protected Areas.
During the meeting, specific tasks were formulated to: Promote community-based resource management and governance; establish mechanisms to promote customary sustainable use that consider customary laws, rules, procedures and protocols and the role of traditional institutions and authorities; and to support the important ground-level work that indigenous peoples and local communities are already doing themselves that enhance customary sustainable use and contribute to the implementation of Article 10(c). Furthermore, one of the indicative tasks for the Action Plan on customary sustainable use recognises the specific roles and contributions of women in relation to customary sustainable use, and emphasises that gender aspects should be mainstreamed in mechanisms for participation in the decision-making and management of natural resources.
However, some tasks still provide a challenge and will require further discussion – for instance the tasks dealing with legislation and rights in relation to indigenous peoples’ lands, waters, and resources. While indigenous and local community participants repeatedly explained that secure rights to lands, waters and resources are fundamental to maintain and carry out customary sustainable practices in indigenous territories, some Parties found these guidelines too ‘prescriptive’ and tasks on this issue were marked in brackets leaving them to be resolved at the next Convention on Biodiversity’s Conference of the Parties (COP11) next year in India. ------• Read the full recommendation on customary sustainable use: http://www.cbd.int/wg8j-07/in-session/, UNEP/CBD/WG8J/7/L.6: Article 10, with a focus on Article 10(c), as a major component of the programme of work on Article 8(j) and related provisions. Other recommendations of the Working Group are listed here as well.
• A very good and complete summary of the meeting, including details of the deliberations and many interventions on all agenda items (for the discussions on customary sustainable use scroll down to ‘multi-year programme of work - 10c), has been prepared by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin in English, French and Spanish: Volume 09 Number 557: http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09557e.html Read more from FPP and partners at the Working Group meeting: - Report on the side event that the FPP team held with the CBD Secretariat on Monday 31October 2011 about customary sustainable use on the Natural Justice website: http://natural-justice.blogspot.com/2011/10/forest-peoples-experiences-with.html - Abstract of FPP and partners’ “local experiences and lessons learned on 10c” case study in the ECO, Vol38 Issue 1: http://www.cbdalliance.org/wg7-8j/ - IIFB Opening and other statements, plus live-stream video of IIFB’s side event on traditional knowledge: http://iifb.indigenousportal.com/, together with other information on IIFB on Facebook and Twitter. - Full meeting report of the Preparatory Expert Meeting on Article 10(c), held in Montreal in June 2011, to which FPP and partners made many contributions: UNEP/CBD/WG8J/7/5/ADD1: Report of the Meeting on Article 10 with A Focus on Article 10(C) As a Major Component of the Programme of Work on Article 8(j) And Related Provisions of the Convention: http://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=WG8J-07