Community Ma-eul

"Reaching and surpassing Aichi Target 11 through the appropriate recognition of ICCAs" (Event 1209)

Saturday September 8th
11:00 - 13:00












Aichi Target 11:' By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.'

One of the most potent delivery mechanisms for achieving Aichi Target 11 is the appropriate recognition and support of Indigenous Peoples' and Local Communities' Conserved Territories and Areas. Falling under the heading of 'other effective area-based conservation measures', and often overlapping with formal protected area systems, these locally-defined entities can ensure that conservation is more effective, equitable, and sustainable, benefitting both nature and the local communities that depend on it.

Led by the ICCA Consortium, the Community Ma-eul hosted a lively workshop on the role of ICCAs in reaching and surpassing Aichi Target 11, featuring a number of speakers offering different perspectives on ICCAs. The workshop focused on key elements in their effective and equitable design, the different roles they can play in conserving natural and cultural heritage, and international efforts to support this work. The workshop's discussions – led largely by the ICCA Consortium's Taghi Farvar (President), Stan Stevens (Treasurer), and Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (Global Coordinator) – also incorporated a number of recommendations for future ICCA design and implementation, and explored the relationship between ICCAs and formal protection efforts.

Delivering benefits for both people and nature

Defined as 'natural and modified ecosystems that include significant biodiversity, ecosystem services, and cultural values, and are voluntarily conserved by local people', ICCAs serve a variety of purposes. In the words of Sudeep Jana, a PhD scholar at Curtin University, Australia, and an honorary member of the ICCA Consortium, 'ICCAs embody the resilience of communities to adapt in the face of change; they are an occasion of empowerment and pride for indigenous peoples and youth; and they play a crucial role in securing de facto and de jure rights. They are the oldest form of conservation in the world.'

One example of the different values ICCAs offer came from Vance Martin of the Wild Foundation, an international organization dedicated entirely and explicitly to wilderness protection and wilderness conservation around the world. He cited cases such as the Ubicacion del Pueblo Santa Clara in New Mexico, USA, as an example of the conservation of wilderness area that has allowed for sustainable use by local peoples; the Wild Foundation has facilitated exchanges between communities, including from the Kayapó people, on successful experiences in this area. A different perspective came from Felipe Gomez, a Guatemalan of Mayan descent, who spoke about the cultural importance of sacred natural sites to his people as centres of energy, balance, connectivity, and harmony with nature and ancestors. ICCAs offer a means of appropriately valuing and protecting these sites.

National and international support for ICCAs

It is clear that ICCAs can benefit from appropriate recognition and support by national and international bodies. Emmanuel Freudenthal (of the Forest Peoples Programme) and Fred Ngeywo (Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project) described the recent implementation of a Whakatane Assessment in the Mt. Elgon region of Kenya. The Whakatane Mechanism – a product of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) 'Sharing Power' conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, in January 2011 – is a means of assessing the relationship between protected areas and the local people that inhabit them, and, where people are negatively affected, to propose solutions and implement them. In Mt. Elgon, the intervention identified how the Ogiek people have traditionally overseen community conservation bylaws that regulate the use of forest and grazing resources. The creation of a forest reserve had excluded them from accessing resources, however. The assessment established the reliance of these local communities on these resources for their wellbeing and livelihoods – in particular on forests for bee-keeping and grazing areas during the dry season. Grazing also reduces grass length, mitigating the effects of forest fires. Having demonstrated the role of local people in sustainably managing the forest, the project brought together the Ogiek people, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, and the local country council, and the land was returned to the local community.

Other examples of successful state support for ICCAs were given by Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend and Holly Shrumm of Natural Justice, drawing on the findings of a review conducted across nineteen countries of legal frameworks for ICCAs. Positive examples included Australia, where one-quarter of the country's protected area system is comprised of ICCAs; Iran, where steps have been taken to conserve the central ecological and social functions of nomadic indigenous peoples' migration territories; and Colombia.

The workshop also looked at ways in which the international community is supporting ICCAs, including the work of both the ICCA Consortium and the ICCA Registry. This attempt to comprehensively catalogue ICCAs around the globe in an online database was presented by Colleen Corrigan of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), who emphasized its potential for supporting the international recognition of ICCAs, documenting their biodiversity and other values, giving evidence to inform decision-making, and providing a platform for knowledge exchange.

Ways forward

The Consortium concluded the workshop by presenting a set of lessons learned for the design, recognition, and appropriate support of ICCAs that are not only equitably managed, but are equitably governed. These lessons inform recommendations that should guide ongoing work in this critically important area, and offer a means to not only achieving, but surpassing, Aichi Target 11:

  1. ICCAs are only as good as the strength of the communities that maintain them.
  2. Friend and allies from civil society can play critical supporting roles in supporting ICCAs.
  3. National governments have international obligations to support ICCAs; international initiatives must encourage them to fulfill these obligations.
  4. There are many routes to recognizing ICCAs.
  5. The most favorable conditions for an ICCA's recognition are as 'a unit to be governed by self-defined communities under a common title (either property or right of use) that should be inalienable, indivisible, and established in perpetuity.'
  6. Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes should be in place for all matters regarding ICCAs, and should be required at all stages. These processes should be defined by communities themselves, not defined by governments.
  7. Under appropriate conditions, ICCAs can benefit from being officially recognized as protected areas.
  8. ICCAs that have been incorporated within official systems without FPIC being obtained from concerned communities should be recognized as ICCAs, and provided with respect and support; positive collaboration between stakeholders should be sought, as provide for by the Whakatane Mechanism.
  9. Full recognition should be given to customary law and decision-making processes and institutions, especially those regarding collective natural land, water and resource rights.
  10. Implementation of legal obligations must be improved through an integrated socio-ecological approach to the law, rather than fragmented efforts, with an emphasis on removing legal threats to ICCAs, upholding the rule of law, and improving access to justice.
  11. External support to ICCAs is especially helpful in enforcing rules and providing fair and coherent judgment and sanctions for violators, developing local capacities to respond to threats and manage conflicts, providing opportunities for joint learning, and fostering good governance at all levels.
  12. Financial incentives for conservation can support ICCAs, but they should be used with great caution, seeking to maintain and strengthen community independence and integrity rather than dilute these factors.

For more information follow the links below:

ICCA Consortium PowerPoint presentation



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