Day 2 - Noavember 16, 2004
Tuesday was the Official Opening Day for the Community Mubaan at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. Participants were warmly welcomed to the Mubaan. An opening ceremony was held and Mr. Donato Bumacas of Philippines and Suparb Pason of Thailand performed a blessing to inaugurate the sacred space.
Mr. Sean Southey introduced the Community Mubaan concept and spoke about the meaning of the word ËMubaanÓ, Ëthe place where the home isÓ. He then shared that this community dialogue space is the first one that is completely integrated into the World Conservation Congress. Sean also went on to explain that the Mubaan Community Dialogue Space is dedicated to:
- creating opportunities to spotlight stories from grassroots sustainable development victories won by community level action around the world,
- providing a space for sharing and exchange of knowledge and experiences to facilitate community to community discussions and presentations, and
- encouraging dialogue about future challenges for linking biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.
In the mind of the participants a question was raised: Who are the people that are participating in the Congress, and what do they want? How could we take our messages to them? The morning session was joined by Mr. Achim Steiner, Director General of IUCN. He brought a warm message of welcoming and encouragement to all participants of the Community Mubaan, raising the feeling that communities are at the heart of conservation and development discussions. He spoke about how to include more people and facilitate turning aspirations into actions.
Mr. Bala Krishna, representative of the IUCN Asia Regional Office made an introduction to the Congress and its framework, and started a brief description of the four main themes of discussion in the Congress.
The importance of bridging sustainability and productivityÓ
·HEALTH, POVERTY & CONSERVATION
Building the linkages to respond to the challenge of human needsÓ
·BIODIVERSITY LOSS & SPECIES EXTINCTION
The framework of species management, with special emphasis in managing risk in a changing worldÓ
·MARKET, BUSINESS & THE ENVIRONMENT
Find answers of how to strengthening corporate, social responsibility, law & policyÓ
Mr. Hakan Bjorkman, Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP Thailand, raised the question ËHow can we integrate the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into the congress discussions?Ó He put a special focus on MDG 7 - Ensure environmental sustainabilityÁ and related it to biodiversity and people. He mentioned that they are many places in the world where people are dependant on their biodiversity for their livelihood, for example the case of Zimbabwe, where 35% of the people are totally dependant on local biodiversity. He suggested there are four important issues that should be brought up into the Congress debate:
* The politics of people, their participation, and the need to institutionalize these mechanisms,
* The recognition of the need to create the opportunities for income generation around biodiversity conservation,
* Recognition of rights for traditional knowledge,
* Recognition of the need to protect biodiversity. It is the base necessary to achieve the MDGÁs.
This presentation gave us a clear picture of the institutional landscape of the Congress and its future dynamic. Mr. Gladman Chibememe, shared the story of how a group of young cyclists visited and engaged a number of local communities from around the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. The purpose of this trip was to raise awareness amongst these local communities of the need for them to participate directly in the development of park management approaches and tourism-related business strategies within and outside the Transfrontier Park. The work was focused upon bringing the community messages that they have gathered to the attention of policy makers, with a special focus on the need to create opportunities to build the capacity for local communities and to integrate community aspirations into the process of making environmental policy.
Other participants reinforced the idea of the importance for local voices to be heard at the global level, and the need to answer the question of how policy making can respond to community needs and demands.
By noon it was clear to the Mubaan participants that it was necessary to focus our attention on three tasks or points of discussion:
What are the linkages of the community work to the global agenda?
How does the community Mubaan fit into, or become part of this landscape?
Are the linkages real between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction?
The afternoon discussions were centered on the main issue of access to land, benefit sharing, and real local participation. Two presentations by the brothers and sisters from Thailand and one presentation from our brother from Bangladesh guided the Community Mubaan members to identify critical barriers and opportunities.
Critical Barriers Opportunities
·Lack of information & knowledge
·Lack of legal recognition of cultural and community rights to land and management of natural resources.
·Displacement of local communities during the creation of Protected Areas.
·Lack of will at certain political level to enter into dialogue.
·Ongoing community and network organizing and building efforts.
·Initial coordination and agreement at the local government level
·International policy for government decentralization.
·Existing good examples of co-management initiatives in connection to some government officials.
The group consensus was centered on the recognition that the best strategy to deal with government agencies was to actively do something. We must be very proactive and move forward without them. We must focus more on creating success by changing realities. This would lead to the creation of better cooperation alliances, based on a strategy of a global community concept.
Some time was spent on supporting the Thailand Community Delegation to define their message for the coming meeting on Friday with the Director General and Senator, whom are both very positive to the cause of community participation in biodiversity conservation. There was a suggestion that it was important to focus our agenda on our domestic needs and demands, without forgetting that we are at a global conference, so it was very important to contextualize our message with a broader perspective.
There was a rising feeling in the Community Mubaan, that this is OUR space and OUR platform. It is here to assist us with advancing our agenda and facilitating the integration of local voices into global policy discussions. It was announced that next day we will be a broader community with the integration and participation of representatives from the Indigenous People and other community groups from around the world that would broaden our discussions and sharing.
At the end of the day the people of the Mubaan said with one voice: ËProtect the forest as a whole, for the life of the people that live in and around the forest. We can live with the forest because we are from the forestÓ
Peoples' rights must be respected.