Protected Areas

PEOPLE: Promoting just and equitable protected areas

Through millennia, the main decision makers, custodians and “managers” of many natural resources have been human communities, including both settled and mobile communities. Traditional management approaches have been based on an understanding of the relationship between natural resources and community livelihoods, on historical experience and knowledge of changing resource availability, as well as cultural beliefs and values. There is considerable information that these traditional management approaches often, but not always, permitted biodiversity to flourish. In the modern era, population growth, technology change and conflict have altered many of these traditional management systems, generally to the detriment of ecological integrity.

In the more recent past, governments have stepped into this conservation and land management role, and while establishing many of the best examples of state-run conservation institutions, have in some cases supplanted other forms of governance. In the worst cases this has led to the displacement of people, and their access to resources, but less evidently, to the lack of official recognition of conservation efforts that continue to be undertaken by communities, in both traditional and more contemporary ways. Establishing legitimate and equitable governance arrangements for protected areas in the context of national laws and policies remains a high priority within national commitments to the CBD decisions.

At the 5th World Parks Congress, IUCN promoted a theme on governance that led to the articulation of Element 2 of the CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas. This element, amongst other goals, calls for the use of a comprehensive suite of governance types for protected area systems, coupled with the recognition of rights, and the free, prior and informed consent of communities - in compliance with Articles 8 j) and 15 of the Convention-, when their protected areas are included into national systems of protected areas. Furthermore the CBD’s Strategic Plan 2011-2020’s Target 11 that calls for at least 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine area of the earth to be set aside as protected areas that are equitably managed, specifically implies and includes areas beyond those established and managed by governments, including all categories of protected areas and the full suite of governance types.

The approval and signature by up to 90 countries of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing represent a regulatory international framework on distribution of benefits derived from utilization of biodiversity, including traditional knowledge and associated traditional knowledge, which are important sources of economic income mostly in developing countries with adequate technology. This also reinforces the commitment to comply with the third principle of the CDB on fair and equitable distribution of benefits derived from the utilization of biological diversity.


Work area: 
Protected Areas
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