Theme on Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities, Equity and Protected Areas Update

03 August 2011 | News story

July 2011 | The main events of the last quarter for TILCEPA included pushing for greater attention to indigenous peoples’ rights and voice in relation to World Heritage Site nominations, a workshop on the Protected Areas toolkit, and a joint meeting of IUCN and the UN Convention on Climate Change.

TILCEPA member Stefan Disko drove a process, with support from the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), to bring the issue of indigenous peoples’ free prior and informed consent in World Heritage Site nominations to the attention of the 10th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

TILCEPA worked with Mr Kanyinke Sena, UNPFII representative for Africa, on drawing out the key principles and process issues in WH nominations. Sena later presented the official position of the UNPFII to the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris. IUCN staff, TILCEPA members and UNESCO staff met in Paris to discuss ways forward. The underlying issue is not just about the out of date WH Convention, but the overall issue of governance and rights in relation to Protected Areas. The experience of the WHS nominations is strikingly similar to the problems of the non-implementation of Element 2 of the CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas.

UNPFII is proposing to play a greater monitoring role, in the face of national Parties failing to comply with national and international norms and standards on rights, consent, and benefit sharing. IUCN’s WH Division has offered to produce a flow chart of the process associated with natural WH nominations, and IUCN’s opportunities to improve on the social policy aspects.

There is a marked difference between UNESCO’s WH Convention and the CBD’s PoWPA. CBD at least has strong treaty components that recognise indigenous peoples, who are also part of the UNEP Major Groups system and have a formal voice in the CBD SBSTTAs and COPs. Such is not the case with UNESCO, which has lagged behind other UN agencies in complying with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. TILCEPA is working with the IUCN World Heritage Division, the Social Policy Division and the Global Programme on Protected Areas (GPAP) to encourage cooperation and coherence of IUCN’s relationship with UNESCO and its advisory role. Social Policy Division is doing some ground breaking work on human rights and World Heritage.

GiZ and TILCEPA cooperated on a two-day meeting to review draft materials on Protected Areas governance. TILCEPA is working with WCPA, GPAP and Social Division to produce resources and a toolkit that will help national Protected Areas understand and report on Element 2 of the CBD PoWPA, which deals with participation, governance, rights and benefit sharing. The first resource kit is being led by Neema Pathak-Broome. The next step will be to pilot materials on rights and governance. TILCEPA is speaking with GPAP, Social Division and the East & Southern African Regional Office about possibilities for site and systems trialling.

IUCN is launching its Global Drylands programme, headed by Jonathan Davies in Nairobi. A key event was a two day workshop between IUCN staff and commissioners, including TILCEPA’s Chair, and the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

For TILCEPA, the main focus of the meeting was on the participation and rights of drylands indigenous peoples and local communities. Of the three Rio Conventions, the CCD has been the least effective in creating a proper multi-stakeholder platform. Very few indigenous peoples are involved in CCD, and the NGOs which are there tend not to represent constituencies, and where they do, these are mostly agricultural communities, not drylands pastoralists or hunter-gatherers. As dryland economies are so specific and often involve complex traditional knowledge, it is not evident that CCD can reproduce the CBD’s approach to bringing indigenous peoples into the COP / CRIC process. Dryland herders rarely speak UN languages, and are busy with their livestock, not flying to Bonn for meetings. CCD and IUCN have agreed to work further on ways to promote drylands constituency participation in national level processes, and to explore how global representation might be improved.

In IUCN’s perspective, they were the ones who recognised the importance of pastoralist communities and knowledge systems in managing and understanding drylands ecosystems, and IUCN promoted the integration of this element into CCD’s work. Now, IUCN needs to assess what more it can and wants to do to support CCD in generating a better process that is not so heavily state-centric, nor as bureaucratically inert. CCD Secretariat staff welcomed IUCN’s perspectives.