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Side Event

Recognizing and Supporting Territories and Areas conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities - Global Overview & National Case Studies

ICCA Consortium

Date and Time
12 October 2012 13:15 - 14:45

Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 11)

Territories and areas that have been governed and managed by indigenous peoples and local communities are increasingly gaining recognition as being crucial for both the survival and wellbeing of such peoples, as for the biological diversity they contain and the ecological functions they provide. While these can be considered the world’s oldest conservation areas (though not necessarily considered by the peoples themselves in such terms), recognition of their values in formal conservation circles is relatively new. The World Parks Congress in 2003, and subsequent global meetings relating to wildlife and biodiversity conservation, have consolidated this recognition. Such sites have come to be known as “indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ conserved territories and areas”, or in short, ICCAs. Possibly the most important of the international policy meetings that dealt with ICCAs has been the 7th Conference of Parties of the CBD, one of whose outputs, the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA), explicitly requires contracting parties to identify, recognize and support ICCAs. Since then, periodic reviews of the progress of PoWPA implementation have shown that several countries are beginning to recognize and support ICCAs, but that most still have quite a distance to go. Indigenous peoples, local communities, and civil society organizations are also increasingly focusing their attention on ICCAs, in particular to identify, document, and study them, as also to do advocacy for their public, legal, or other forms of recognition and support. Part of this recognition is also the potential of ICCAs in achieving biodiversity targets related to the term ‘protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.’ As countries move to provide recognition and support to ICCAs, a number of lessons are beginning to emerge, especially on the appropriateness of various forms of recognition and support. In particular, concerns have been expressed about the continuation of top-down ways in which recognition is taking place, such as imposing upon ICCAs uniform institutional and management structures or rules, rather than encouraging and respecting the diversity of governance institutions and rules that have managed to achieved conservation in specific contexts. A number of countries, however, do possess laws, policies, or other instruments that respect the specificity and diversity of ICCAs and provide adequate space to local people to formulate or continue their own institutions, rules, and actions. Based on these developments, and in particular on the increasingly felt need for guidance on ICCAs in general and ICCA recognition in particular, a specific volume in the CBD Secretariat’s Technical Series focusing on Recognizing and Supporting ICCAs has recently been produced, and will be launched at the COP11. Drawing from the volume, the side event will present available information on laws, policies, and other measures (administrative, programmatic, and social) by which ICCAs are being recognized internationally as well as at a country-level. This will include information and insights from a limited number of fresh case studies representative of different regions of the world, covering terrestrial and marine ICCAs and involving indigenous peoples and local communities, both sedentary and mobile. Key lessons will in this way be distilled for contracting parties to the CBD and others. This side event will also be preceded by a 1-day workshop.