Day 3 - October 6
Monday marked the official opening of the Community Poble dialogue space, the first dialogue space to be physically located in the heart of a conference.
The event was opened by Ms. Veerle Vanderweerd, Director, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP and Charles McNeill, Senior Biodiversity Advisor, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP. Both gave background on the Equator Initiative, extended their congratulations to the Equator Prize 2008 winners, and provided some context for the wider work of the UNDP at the WCC. Also in attendance was the Secretary General of IUCN, who congratulated the winners, stressed the importance of community voices in informing national and international policy, and suggested that there was opportunity for local and indigenous input into the post-Kyoto regime. Donato Busmacus, a winner of the Equator Prize 2002, opened the Poble with a blessing and a traditional song from his region of the Philippines. Benson Venegas, a facilitator, took the communities through a chronology of past dialogue spaces, beginning with Johannesburg in 2002.
The first official session held in the Community Poble was on the Community Knowledge Service (CKS). The goal of the CKS is to enable local community representatives to share their knowledge and expertise with other local community representatives and with the broader range of stakeholders who have much to learn from community expertise in natural resources management. In turn, the service will also aim to strengthen local communities’ access to knowledge and resources generated by diverse stakeholders impacting policy and practice on biodiversity conservation and rural livelihoods. Facilitator Claire Rhodes gave a background on the CKS, introduced KENVO as a current member, and requested that communities discuss a few questions:
• What tools and processes do communities use for sharing knowledge and accessing information?
• What are the key challenges faced for accessing useful knowledge and information to support community work?
• What are the opportunities and actions needed to address these challenges?
Group responses to the first question included: workshops, discussions, using those with special knowledge as teachers, on-site visits, sports as a way to spread knowledge, cell phones, common meeting places, radio, youth video, indigenous knowledge, and indigenous languages. Group responses to the second question included: sustainability of funding, trust, need for cultural adaptation in order to meet goals, democratization, and lack of coordination. Group responses to the final question included: replicating successful strategies in new areas and a lack of partnership at all levels. Questions came up about how the CKS protects right to information and how it deals with knowledge that is disappearing (e.g. traditional ecological knowledge). They were assured that one of the main mechanisms of the CKS is to protect and share community knowledge appropriately.
The next session hosted by TILCEPA/CEESP was entitled, “Recognizing and Supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas”. The group has been implementing initiatives to deepen the knowledge of the ICCA phenomenon through regional reviews, national surveys of policy and legislation, and in-depth case studies. The session was meant to be an alliance-building workshop to support ICCAs. Objectives included, to: review progress of knowledge, policy and practice in support of ICCAs; present and discuss lessons learned about the status, needs and opportunities of ICCAs in different parts of the world; discuss avenues to support ICCAs within and outside national protected areas systems; and identify strategic directions for action, possibly through the forming of a global alliance in support of ICCAs.
The Community Poble sessions concluded early to give communities an opportunity to prepare for the Equator Prize 2008 Award Ceremony. The Equator Prize 2008 Award Ceremony was held at Palo Alto – an industrial warehouse that has been refurbished into a fashionable reception space – and turned out to be one of the premier events of the WCC. Charles McNeill, Senior Policy Advisor, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP acted as master of
ceremonies and ushered a distinguished list of speakers through the evening that included: Ted Turner, Chairman of the United Nations Foundation (UNF); Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP; Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy (TNC); Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International (CI); Kathy Calvin Bushkin, Executive Vice President and Chief Operation Officer of the United Nations Foundation (UNF); Brett Jenks, President and CEO of RARE Conservation; Sara Scherr, President and CEO of Ecoagriculture Partners; and Poul Engberg-Pedersen, Director General of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The evening featured the 25 winners of the Equator Prize 2008, as well as announcement of the five communities receiving “special recognition” (and an additional monetary award): one in each region of eligibility (Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean), one exemplifying the conservation of agricultural biodiversity, and one exemplifying community approaches to adaptation to climate change. Communities receiving “special recognition” were selected in advance of the ceremony by an eminent jury of leading development and biodiversity conservation specialists.
Three community representatives were elected to make a statement at the Award Ceremony that ran as follows:
This evening, the Equator Prize Award Dinner was held where the 25 Equator Prize 2008 winners were honoured for their parts in reducing poverty and conserving biodiversity. Among the evening’s many notable speakers was a select group from the winning communities who delivered the following statement on behalf of all the winning delegations.
We, the winners of the Equator Prize 2008, including indigenous peoples and local communities, from 19 countries, are honored to be here receiving our awards in Barcelona, during this International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC). We would like to thank the IUCN and to everyone who had contributed to organizing this conference. Especially the partners of the Equator Initiative (EI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for giving us the opportunity to come to Barcelona, to address this forum and to share with you our experiences in addressing the three main streams identified by the IUCN for the WCC, which are
Climate change, sustaining diversity of life and maintaining a healthy environment for people.
A resonating emphasis in the IUCN President’s opening address at this congress was the need for concrete solutions and strategies. The 25 EI winners present here today represent the efforts of local and traditional communities that have resulted in concrete solutions and strategies to address some of these issues. Unfortunately this knowledge has for the most part not been tapped into in addressing these issues at a global scale. We have collectively identified the following issues and concerns that are obstructing our capacity to further achieve and get involved in national and international efforts. We trust that you will take these issues and concerns, separated by the three main streams for the WCC, into consideration during your deliberations to address these matters at the WCC.
A new climate for change:
Climate change will destroy the most biologically and culturally diverse areas of the world. Communities in the equator belt are the most effected by climate change even though it is not of their making.
Mitigatory and adaptive strategies based on traditional and indigenous knowledge and resources will help to address climate change.
It is crucial to develop a mechanism to ensure that resources set aside to combat climate change will be easily accessible to community organizations. This will enable existing local initiatives to be scaled up and become an integral part of the strategies addressing climate change.
Safeguarding the diversity of life:
Indigenous and traditional cultures have safeguarded the diversity of their environment through sustainable lifestyles and practices over millennia. In doing so they have developed an understanding and wisdom on
how to coexist and live in harmony with nature, which should be integrated into current efforts to protect the diversity of life.
In order to achieve this innovative community initiatives should be recognized and more importantly local and indigenous experts and community leaders should be actively involved in the national and international policy discussions.
Healthy environment, healthy people
All people in the equator belt depend on their environment as their main source of livelihood and sustenance. Traditional, local and indigenous people are the first to suffer if the environment degrades and therefore they play a crucial role in monitoring the health of the environment.
The Equator Initiative Prize winners voicing the interest of the many communities in the Equator Belt would like to call on the international community to ensure that our voices are included in the regional/national and international discussions and planning. We want to be involved at a level where we can make a difference. In order for this to happen we would like to urge you to take the following three actions.
a. Help us promote our work in our respective countries so we can become involved in national management and policy issues. In order to do this we would like to ask UNDP and partner organizations as well as the international media to help us raise our profiles through the organization of mediatic events in our respective countries.
b. Capitalize on the valuable work of the Equator Initiative in selecting exemplary community led projects by creating partnerships with current and past Equator Initiative winners.
c. Work with us to organize a dedicated forum aimed at creating the mechanisms for true knowledge sharing between, government, international agencies and community practitioners.
In conclusion we are asking you to make a commitment to resolve the issues and concerns we have identified and give us a message of hope and encouragement to take back to our communities from this conference.