Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Environmental governance

Most of the planet's areas of high biological diversity are located within the territories of indigenous and tribal forest peoples, who have been managing the environment through their own systems based on traditional knowledge, practices, rules and beliefs for generations ('customary use'). Yet in many countries forest peoples do not have secure tenure over these areas and are denied access and use of their territories because of inadequate government policies, extractive industries’ activities, or conservation initiatives, such as protected areas. At the same time, many indigenous territories are increasingly threatened by unsustainable activities such as logging, mining, and plantations while the communities are not, or are only minimally, involved in official decision-making and management of these areas.

Forest peoples who are facing such challenges are taking action to protect their rights and negotiate better access and greater involvement in the management of natural resources in their territories. Their initiatives include community resource mapping, documentation of customary sustainable resource use, development of community-based territorial management plans, and strengthening of community institutions and decision-making mechanisms. They advocate for recognition of land and resource rights with local and national authorities and work to achieve enhanced understanding and application of FPIC in conservation and/or development initiatives related to resources on their lands. These initiatives are supported by FPP.

A particular focus of many forest communities is to challenge top-down models of conservation that restrict their access and livelihoods, and violate their rights. They work to promote the application of a rights-based approach to conservation, which respects their rights in conservation initiatives. With support of FPP, they research to what extent international guidelines and agreements on protected areas related to indigenous peoples’ rights are being put into practice at international, national and local levels, and advocate for national reforms in protected area policies. They also raise their concerns and propose alternatives in international standard-setting processes, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Relevant resources

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Whakatane Mechanism launched at the WPC in Sydney, November 2014

24 February, 2015

World Parks Congress Launch of the Whakatane Mechanism

The previous IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) was held in Durban, South Africa in 2003. The historic marginalisation of indigenous peoples and local communities from conservation movements and policies resulted in a difficult push for the recognition of local communities’ rights, indigenous peoples’ contribution to conservation and the need for rights-based conservation approaches. Indigenous peoples and local communities were outside the system pushing to get in. However their efforts were successful and helped lead to the recognition of the “new conservation paradigm”.

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Including Indigenous and Local Knowledge in the IPBES

24 February, 2015

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) informs policy and decision-making on biodiversity and ecosystem services. (It is an equivalent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the Climate Change Convention.)  However, IPBES goes beyond just conventional scientific knowledge. IPBES recognises indigenous and local knowledge (and diverse knowledge systems) in its conceptual framework and work programme.

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Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda

29 January, 2015

Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group at the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, Civil Society Dialogue, January 21, 2015, Delivered by Roberto Múkaro Borrero (Taino), International Indian Treaty Council.

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/12448IPMG%20Stat...

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Inspirational People - Silas Siakor and community mapping in Liberia

Handcrafted Films

15 January, 2015

Silas Siakor, environmental activist and Goldman Prize Winner, and the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) have been working on community mapping throughout Liberia for many years. Their work is helping transform natural resource management so that the benefits are shared equally and also helping empower communities to contribute towards decision making and management of these resources. This is their journey.

Read SDI's opinion piece here: http://www.ifnotusthenwho.me/story/silas-siakor-community-mapping/

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COP12 Agrees on the use of “Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities” in Decisions and Secondary Documents under the Convention of Biological Diversity

14 November, 2014

With the theme “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”, the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD COP 12) was held from 6th to 17th October 2014 in Pyeongchang, Korea. The meeting aimed at raising international awareness on the essential role of biodiversity and its contribution to sustainable development, as well as at highlighting biodiversity in the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Launch of the Whakatane Mechanism and new publication

12 November, 2014

Friday 14th November 17.30 to 19.00, at the WIN Pavilion

A Mechanism for promoting rights-based conservation through practical implementation of IUCN Resolutions, including redressing historical injustices and securing communities’ rights to their lands and territories.

Three pilot Whakatane Assessments are in progress in Kenya, Thailand, and DRC, and another in preparation in Indonesia. These will be presented and discussed at this official launch of the Mechanism, chaired by Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Chair of CEESP.

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DRC: Conservation authorities will reconsider communities’ role in conservation in controversial new rainforest reserve

4 November, 2014

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: WWF and the DRC government’s protected areas authority have agreed to reconsider the status of a controversial protected area after meeting yesterday with representatives of local communities who were threatened with loss of their lands and access to natural resources on which they depend for their livelihoods and survival.

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International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) Statement to the Press, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea

13 October, 2014

IIFB Press Conference 2014

Press release from the press conference held by IIFB at the 12th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The press release addresses an impasse that has emerged within the negotiations concerning the use of the terminology "Indigenous Peoples and local communities" to replace the current phrase "indigenous and local communities".

IIFB Press Statement

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