WPC Dialogues: Sydney, Australia 2014
WPC Dialogues: Sydney, Australia 2014: Day 3
Introductory Session Hosted by the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP)
Wednesday 12 November 2014
9:00AM - 12:00PM
Aroha Te Pareake Mead and Kristen Walker Painemilla, the co-chairs of the Specialist Group on Indigenous Peoples, Customary and Environmental Law and Human Rights at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), welcomed 70 representatives of indigenous and local communities from all over the world including seven former Equator Prize winners. Presence was particularly strong from communities in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, as well as parts of Africa. The session was a preparation meeting for local and indigenous community representatives to ensure maximum success of their participation in the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.
Lucy Mulenkei from the Indigenous Information Network provided context about the World Parks Congress from an indigenous and local community perspective. The World Parks Congress 2003, held in Durban, South Africa, brought about an affirmation that indigenous peoples and local communities must be included in policy processes around protected areas. Lucy Mulenkei emphasized that efforts must be sustained to make sure these voices are heard.
Aroha Te Pareake Mead gave an overview of the work of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the organization of its activities around commissions such as the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). While IUCN gathers a wide range of actors such as governments, scientists, activists, non-governmental organizations and many others, indigenous peoples are not adequately represented at the IUCN: “We encourage more indigenous organizations to join IUCN as a formal member. We strive to make admission rules to IUCN more inclusive and raise the number of indigenous organizations within IUCN.”
Onel Masardule of the Guna people in Panama presented on outcomes of a workshop of indigenous and local community representatives held in the days leading up to the World Parks Congress in the Blue Mountains, close to Sydney. While important documents like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the outcome documents of the World Parks Congress 2003 and the World Conservation Congress in Jeju in 2012 are undeniably valuable, there exist serious shortcomings: “These agreements need first and foremost to be implemented. Their value diminishes when the rights only exist on paper.”
The World Parks Congress 2014 is organized along eight different “streams” focusing on certain topics such as climate change, governance, indigenous issues, health, youth, and others. The streams are complemented by four cross-cutting issues, namely World Heritage sites, capacity-building, management of marine areas and the development of a “New Social Compact”, that is, a new way of managing protected areas collaboratively and inclusively. Kristen Walker Painemilla encouraged the workshop participants to seize the opportunities stating that "indigenous peoples have a lot of presence. Pressure the governments. Push your issues, highlight your work.”
Allison Greenberg introduced the proposed outcome document of the World Parks Congress 2014. Following the ‘Durban Agreement’ of 2003, the ‘Sydney Promise’ aims to “create relevance and urgency of protected areas. Protected Areas are still not relevant enough to the world if they are to survive.” She pointed out that indigenous peoples and local communities are an important part of the World Parks Congress in that they have some of the solutions needed. “We want to see a paradigm shift, we want principles implemented." She continued, "It’s not enough to say that things need to happen. People need to hear how things can happen.” Indigenous peoples are in a position to do this because they create the solutions that work.