The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
recognizes the dependency of indigenous and local communities on biological diversity and the unique role of indigenous and local communities in conserving life on Earth. This recognition is enshrined in the preamble of the Convention and in its provisions. It is for this reason that in Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Parties have undertaken to respect, preserve and maintain the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation of biological diversity and to promote their wider application with the approval of knowledge holders and to encourage equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological diversity. Furthermore, because of its relevance to the work of the Convention, considerations relating to the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities are also being incorporated in all the programmes of work under the Convention
A Working group on article 8(j) and related provisions was established in 1998 by the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP4). At its fifth meeting in 2000, the COP adopted a programme of work
to implement the commitments of article 8 (j) of the Convention and to enhance the role and involvement of indigenous and local communities in the achievement of the objectives of the Convention.
Significant work has been accomplished as part of the work programme on article 8(j). In this regard, Parties to the Convention adopted the Akwé: Kon Guidelines
for the conduct of cultural, environmental and social impact assessments regarding developments proposed to take place or which are likely to impact on sacred sites and on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities. These guidelines are intended to provide a collaborative framework ensuring the full involvement of indigenous and local communities in the assessment of cultural, environmental and social concerns and interests of indigenous and local communities of proposed developments. Moreover, guidance is provided on how to take into account traditional knowledge, innovations and practices as part of the impact-assessment processes and promote the use of appropriate technologies.
Major elements in the current biennial programme of work (2006-2008) include the development of elements of sui generis systems, developing indicators for the retention of traditional knowledge and methods and measures to address the underlying causes of the loss of such knowledge, the development of an ethical code of conduct to ensure respect for the cultural and intellectual heritage of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, contribution to the negotiation of an international regime on access and benefit sharing, research on the impact of climate change into highly vulnerable indigenous and local communities, among others. The Secretariat invited Parties, other governments, indigenous and local communities and non-governmental organizations to submit views on the aforementioned matters. The submissions received were reflected in the documentation for the fifth meeting of the Ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions
which took place in Montreal, Canada from 15-19 October 2007.