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Indigenous Peoples & Local Community Reps Issue A Final Plea To World Leaders At Biodiversity Framework Negotiations

The global framework to save nature will only be effective if the rights and contributions of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities are fully recognized

Geneva, 29 March 2022

The UN’s goal is that by 2050, we will all be ‘living in harmony with nature’. Indigenous peoples have been doing this for millennia, and their rights are key to a successful framework

As the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) negotiations conclude today, Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ representatives issued a final plea to world leaders: 

A Human Rights approach – including respect and recognition to the land, territories, traditional knowledge, and the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities – is key for the [Global Biodiversity] Framework to succeed. We are concerned with the lack of consensus in negotiations, especially around this language, and we encourage Parties to work together to reach agreement. 

“If we don’t have a framework to protect nature that truly recognises and respects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities — those who are actually conserving biodiversity — humanity is going to be in danger,” said Co-chair of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), Ramiro Batzin, speaking in Geneva.

In any proposal for conservation, land and territory rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) are vital for protecting the powerful links of peoples to their land and territories, ensuring the survival of biodiversity, and safeguarding the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples on how to live in harmony with nature.

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In its closing statement, the IIFB said:

“IIFB welcomes the work undertaken by the Geneva meetings. Despite the many challenges, there have been some improvements and progress on the GBF, particularly for Targets of high priority for IPLCs. However, we are concerned with the slow progress and lack of consensus in the negotiations.” 

Lucy Mulenkei, Co-Chair of IIFB said “There is irrefutable evidence that the only way this can be a strong instrument is by incorporating and ensuring a strong human rights element – respecting the role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities – into the new global biodiversity framework.”  

Batzin said: “Now is the time for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to show the scientific knowledge that we have. Now is the time for Indigenous Peoples to tell the world that we need to take action.”

“We all need to have a way of life that has an intrinsic relationship and balance with mother nature, the human being, and the universe,” said Batzin. 
“Only then can we truly be seen to be living in harmony with nature.”

In their closing statement at the talks, the IIFB stated the importance of human rights in an agreement to save nature:

“It is necessary to recognize, and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [within the Global Biodiversity Framework].”

They also pointed out the key requirement for this to be backed up with funding:

“Currently, 1% of the funds available for climate and the environment goes to IPLCs, despite growing evidence that supporting IPLCs directly is one of the most cost-effective measures for conservation. Therefore, it is necessary to increase funds to support our strategies. We require flexibility and specific guarantees to access resources directly, that the allocation of funds prioritizes the recognition and respect for indigenous land, territories and the strengthening of governance.”
“IIFB firmly believes that for this framework to be successful and inclusive it will require further improvements, and the full and effective participation of [Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities] in the process leading up to COP 15 and beyond. [We] are looking at this process with the hope that the Global Biodiversity Framework will be truly transformative and will recognize the contributions and rights of Indigenous Peoples to protect Mother Nature.”

A Human Rights Based Approach is crucial to a successful negotiation

“A human rights based approach is crucial to a successful Global Biodiversity Framework,” said Lucy Mulenkei, Co-Chair of the IIFB. 

“Such an approach would mean that biodiversity policies, governance and management do not violate human rights, and those implementing such policies should actively seek ways to support and promote human rights in their design and implementation,” she said. 

The effective implementation of a real human-rights-based approach requires a more holistic approach than currently suggested in the draft of the framework. It requires strengthening and improvements across all aspects of the framework but especially regarding: goals, targets, monitoring framework, enabling conditions, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). 

“The future of any successful framework requires the integration of human rights across all issues - not just in environmental agreements, but more holistically, in agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and our entire ways of life,” said Mulenkei. 

A new report by the Human Rights Working Group, released this week at the Geneva meetings, stated that: Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ ways of life and territories are part of the solution to our global crises and must be identified and supported across the framework. This must include recognition of rights over lands, territories and resources, in area-based measures, in customary sustainable use, in traditional knowledge and in full and effective participation.

In this press conference, Indigenous and Local Community representatives of the IIFB will present their views and proposals for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

“The UNGA adopted the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007,” said Anne Nuorgam (IIFB Member, and Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues). 

“We must remind the member states that this needs to be implemented in these biodiversity negotiations, and adopted as a part of the human rights based approach to the [Global Biodiversity] Framework,” she said.

The Framework will set the global agenda for the next 30 years (2020-2030 to 2050), and the participation and the respect of Indigenous Peoples rights is crucial to ensure the protection of nature by protecting rights as Indigenous Peoples.

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