Forest Peoples Programme, Thai and Kenyan partners report back on 5th IUCN World Conservation Congress

Forest Peoples Programme, Thai and Kenyan partners report back on 5th IUCN World Conservation Congress

With generous assistance from the Rights and Resources Intiative (RRI) and IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) supported Thai and Kenyan partners to attend the 5th IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC5) from 6-15 September in Jeju, South Korea. Fred Kibelio Ngeywo (Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples' Development Project, CIPDP, and from the Ogiek community at Mount Elgon, Kenya), Udom Charoenniyomphrai (Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association, IMPECT), Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri (Indigenous Peoples’ Foundation for Education and Environment in Thailand) and Michael Kipkeu (Kenya Wildlife Service) were involved in supporting key motions (reports below), and presenting the Whakatane Mechanism which seeks “to address and redress the effects of historic and current injustices against indigenous peoples in the name of conservation of nature and natural resources”[1]. The FPP team also attended key workshops on the World Heritage Sites and a host of side events.

FPP sponsored IUCN Motion on the World Heritage Convention and the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

This was passed with a strong text, which included an emphasis on the need for Kenya to rectify the situation of the Endorois. Also, FPP and partners were involved in ensuring that Motion 007 on Establishing an Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation (IPO) membership and voting category in IUCN (the category itself needing to wait until WCC6), and Motion 128 on IUCN's implementation of the UNDRIP, (which recalled the WCC4 motion on UNDRIP and sought to ensure UNDRIP guides relevant action by IUCN) were passed. Motion 128 also welcomed ‘the “Whakatane Mechanism” as a significant contribution to the Programme’s “rights-based and equitable conservation” undertakings and One Programme approach’.

Side event on the Whakatane Mechanism: A multi-stakeholder approach to solving human rights conflicts in protected areas

The well-attended two-hour side event on the Whakatane Mechanism focused on “addressing equitable governance and management in protected areas”. As this E-Newsletter has previously reported, the Whakatane Mechanism aims to support conflict resolution in protected areas by ensuring that conservation practices respect the rights of indigenous peoples/ local communities. It is not a legal recourse to national or regional courts, but an intermediary solution that aims to enable parties to avoid going to court in the first place. The Mechanism is potentially faster, much cheaper,  more accessible than turning to the courts and more conducive to building something positive. The Mechanism is clearly not legally binding for those who take part (as a court ruling should be, in theory at least) and when it fails to make progress the option of going to court is still available.

Participants at this side event heard reports on the outcome of two Whakatane Mechanism pilot Assessments that have been carried out since 2011: at Mount Elgon in Western Kenya and in Ob Luang National Park in northern Thailand. Participants heard how these pilot Assessments have contributed to practical positive changes in these protected areas and how the Assessments were conducive to policy changes at the national level.

Dr. Janis Bristol Alcorn (RRI Fellow and Co-Chair of IUCN CEESP TGER) and Stewart Maginnis (Global Director, IUCN Nature Based Solutions Group) gave powerful introductions that outlined the progress IUCN has made in relation to the Whakatane Mechanism, and also noted just how vital such processes are to ensuring a rights-based approach becomes the norm.

The presentation of the pilot Assessment at Ob Luang National Park in northern Thailand delved into the history behind the situation, outlined how conservation players on the ground recognised and worked with the rights of local people, but also how national level policy needed to change to enable – rather than obstruct - a rights-based and effective form of conservation.  The presentation clearly showed how this pilot had helped bring key players together with the intention of working to make such a change.

In the presentations on the pilot Assessment at Mount Elgon, Kenya, Stewart Maginnis, Ali Kaka (Regional Director, IUCN East and Southern Africa) and Justin Kenrick (Africa Policy Advisor, FPP) all pointed out that it involved taking on a seemingly intractable and dangerous situation. Fred Kibelio Ngeywo’s presentation highlighted that a key contribution to the success of the pilot Assessment in Kenya was the Ogiek’s willingness to engage constructively with the very institutions that they had experienced as having expelled them from their ancestral lands at Chepkitale, Mount Elgon. What also became clear from the presentations was the key role of Ali Kaka, with his extraordinary ability to bring all the key players together and co-facilitate the Whakatane Mechanism process with Forest Peoples Programme. Meanwhile, Michael Kipkeu, of the Kenya Wildlife Service, opened his presentation with the unequivocal statement that  “Chepkitale belongs to the Ogiek”.

As a consequence of the FPP team participating in WCC5, the Whakatane Mechanism is now much more prominent within the work of IUCN and has benefited from useful feedback. The next step is to move into the second phase, which will involve seeking funding to undertake more Assessments and to improve and finalise the Mechanism so that it can be officially launched at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, in 2014, as a major IUCN initiative. The Pilot Phase has developed a highly effective process and working framework for this Mechanism. This second phase will seek to secure much greater input and feedback from indigenous peoples and local communities (e.g. through presenting to indigenous peoples and local community representatives  at the CBD COP11, currently taking place in Hyderabad, India) and from governmental, non-governmental and conservation organisations, as it undertakes work that can hopefully continue to make a real difference to peoples’ lives.

To find out more about the Whakatane Mechanism, and the pilot Assessments in Kenya and Thailand, visit the website: http://whakatane-mechanism.org/

 

[1] Durban Accord and Action Plan and Resolution 4.052