Theme on Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, Equity and Protected Areas (TILCEPA)

A joint theme of CEESP and WCPA

TILCEPA -  joint theme of CEESP and WCPA

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Two IUCN Commissions, CEESP and WCPA are linked by a Strategic Direction on Governance, Communities, Equity and Livelihood Rights in Relation to Protected Areas. The Strategic Direction operates through a constellation of Task Forces, Working Groups, Themes and Specialist Groups concerned with the social aspects of Protected Areas. Particular attention is given to the participation, rights, values, livelihoods and contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities living in or affected by Protected Areas.


Protected Areas is a term used to refer to a broad range of conservation practices that govern a particular geographic territory. IUCN defines these as:  a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.. These may be legally constituted territories such as national parks, or they may include areas deliberately conserved and managed by communities or private sector interests. Protected Areas are found both on land and at sea or in wetlands. IUCN recognises six categories of Protected Areas with a range of governance types.

The Strategic Direction on Governance, Communities, Equity and Livelihood Rights in Relation to Protected Areas is known by its antecedent inter-Commission body, the Theme on Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, Equity and Protected Areas (TILCEPA).

TILCEPA was created in 2000 and has grown from its initial function into a broader strategic and coordination role. It currently covers the themes of governance (community management, co-management, various forms of participation, decision-making and consultation), human and civil rights, access to and rights in relation to natural resources and traditional territories in and bordering Protected Areas, integration of traditional biodiversity knowledge and values into Protected Areas Protected Areas management, fighting poverty and promoting sustainable livelihoods as well as ancillary yet important themes of voluntary use and maintenance of traditional knowledge, cultural systems, tangible and intangible heritage, spiritual practices and technical skills.

TILCEPA's role is anchored in an understanding that conservation and the success of Protected Areas in conserving biodiversity are located in social, economic and cultural contexts. Local and traditional knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, stewardship and livelihoods all play a role in determining whether biodiversity can be effectively conserved or will be depleted. There is a broad range of Protected Area practices; and within these arrangements the interface between the State, Protected Area agencies (private, communal, State or para-Statal) and communities always involves the exercise and negotiation of power. This aspect of power relations in Protected Areas governance and processes is not in a single act, but in an ongoing process that requires reflection, assessment and transparency to maximise healthy, mutually respectful cooperation.

The TILCEPA themes are linked by a principle of equity in terms of rights and resources, and in terms of human dignity, self-determination and cultural continuity. In keeping with CEESP's overall vision, TILCEPA affirms the complex inter-relatedness of human cultural diversity and natural biological diversity. Conservation is located in a cultural matrix and context of power, which needs to be recognised by those in positions of dominance and authority. The principle of equity underpins the benefits, the processes and the voices involved in Protected Areas.

Function & Goals:

"IUCN faces the challenge of helping communities and State conservation agencies find a successful relationship with each other and build the capacity to harmonise local stewardship and natural resource benefits with national and international targets of biodiversity conservation"

The Strategic Direction regroups skilled social & natural scientists, practitioners, researchers and community experts to provide a resource pool to IUCN on how to interact with Protected Areas stakeholders about the significance of embedding conservation in social realities.

TILCEPA's function is to assist with promoting awareness of good practices and methodologies in Protected Areas management and supporting processes and forums that encourage dialogue and finding common ground for parties with different interests and needs. TILCEPA works through its parent Commissions, initiates projects and events, produces materials and works in concert with IUCN's 5 thematic areas and 10 global results – with an emphasis on Protected Areas and social policy.

The Strategic Direction members assist with promoting innovative approaches to governance and participation, assessment and evaluation, and methods for addressing issues of poverty, exclusion and inequity. Attention is given to the intercultural challenges of conservation and supporting parties to understand and resolve their different needs and interests with regards Protected Areas.

The global review of Protected Areas Management Effectiveness (PAME) reporting shows that there is a statistical correlation between Protected Areas being successful at conserving biodiversity, and being successful at achieving equitable social benefits and participation from local communities and / or indigenous peoples.

The 2009 review of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Programme of Work on Protected Areas has emphasised that whereas more States are capable of reporting on PAME capacity, only a few States are able to report on the social components of Protected Area – in particular, on issues of public participation, benefits, rights and equity issues. TILCEPA supports activities which promote methods of assessment and reporting, which are informed by participatory approaches and anchored in a view of development that finds a balance between sustainability of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the needs of human populations. 

Two new specialist groups:

In 2011, TILCEPA is launching two new Social Policy Specialist Groups in response to gaps in Protected Areas social policy capacity and the accelarating impact of climate change in mountain and marine ecosystems. Both groups are oriented to networking, advocacy and the promotion of good practices, norms and standards. Both SGs are due to impact on the 2012 World Conservation Congress and the 2014 VIth World Parks Congress.

Mountain social policy specialist group: The SG focuses on appropriate social policy and practices in mountain protected areas, transboundary large scale mountain conservation landscapes, and connectivity corridors between existing mountain Protected Areas. Mountain areas are particularly known for small human populations, specialised biodiversity knowledge and livelihoods, and numerous sacred natural sites and pilgrimage sites.

Marine social policy specialist group: There is strong pressure from the UN, Conservation NGOs and IUCN for national States to create Marine Protected Areas. This poses challenges to the 100 million people who rely on marine resources for their livelihoods. This SG focuses on how MPA goals can be met by working with existing marine governance institiutions and stewards to sustain both livelihoods and marine biodiversity. Particular attention is given to formalising Locally Mananaged Marine Areas (LMMAs) as part of the national marine conservation strategy.  


TILCEPA cooperates and interacts with other themes and networks, including the:

  • Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Areas (ICCA) Consortium;
  • Inter-Commission Task Force on Culture and Conservation;
  • International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB);
  • Protected Areas Equity and Livelihoods Task Force (PAEL);
  • Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) alliance building;
  • Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA);
  • Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group;
  • World Heritage Working Group (WCPA).




  • TILCEPA membership is open to individuals with experience and expertise relating to issues of indigenous peoples, local communities, equity and Protected Areas. Members offer their contributions on a volunteer basis. They can be compensated for their professional activities if funds are available through specific projects or programmes;
  • TILCEPA is an inter-Commission Strategic Direction, set up by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP). Membership in TILCEPA automatically involves membership with CEESP. In the case of WCPA, acceptance as member is not automatic, but a request can be forwarded to the WCPA Chair for consideration;
  • Membership is by invitation, which is issued by one of the TILCEPA Chair. Persons can apply or be nominated, but in all cases have to be invited by the Chair;
  • Members may be more or less active depending on individual commitments and opportunities, and can focus their interest in one or more specific sub-topics, and/or one or more regions/countries of the world.
  • Membership requires contribution to work of TILCEPA, including strategic planning, reviewing of policy initiatives, sharing of case studies and liaising with national and regional IUCN members. Membership may be revoked by the Chair if there is a period of inactivity;
  • TILCEPA's composition is up for review every four years; members can be added or removed at any time, while the Chair is expected to last the full 4 year term.


Contact the Chair

Nigel Crawhall

Unit 12041, Bokkemanskloof Estate
Blue Valley Avenue, Hout Bay 7806
Cape Town, South Africa

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