The World Parks Congress 2014 in Sydney, Australia, has drawn attention to the problems of indigenous peoples and protected areas and to the nexus of food security and protected areas. The organizer of the World Parks Congress, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said in a press release that significant work remains to be done, particularly at a national policy level, to deliver on the recommendations related to indigenous peoples and protected areas. IUCN also launched a Green List of Protected Areas (GLPA), which is meant to provide a global standard of good practice.
On the occasion of the Congress, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a publication highlighting the links between people and protected areas. The paper, titled ‘Protected Areas, People and Food Security – An FAO contribution to the World Parks Congress,’ focuses on meeting the dual challenges of protecting biodiversity through in situ conservation while fulfilling basic needs for food and nutrition security.
According to the IUCN press release, its World Parks Congress is the landmark global forum on protected areas, held once each decade. This latest event provided the opportunity to reflect on the progress of the outcomes of the previous Congress in Durban, South Africa in 2003, which were summarised in the Durban Accord.
Several of the recommendations within the Durban Accord related directly to Indigenous people. This included recommendations to involve Indigenous people in the creation and management of protected areas, and to share the benefits of protected area management with them. As part of the ‘respecting Indigenous and traditional knowledge and culture’ stream of the current Congress, a session looking at the success of the Indigenous people-related recommendations of the Durban Accord found that, while progress had been made, there are still significant pending steps.
The consensus of the presenters was that the rights of Indigenous people in relation to their land needed to be incorporated into national policies and legislation. The traditional knowledge of Indigenous people is often recognised and utilised at the grassroots management level, but not at the national level. Indeed, the intrinsic right of Indigenous people to live on their land within protected areas is often not recognised. This continues to lead to displacement of Indigenous people from their land, which in turn leads to a loss of traditional knowledge and livelihoods.
“I am a strong believer in really strengthening the communities. At the end of the day, governments will change, conservation people will change, but the Indigenous peoples are in their territories, they will never change, they’re there, they will stay there and want to protect those territories forever and ever, for the next generations – unless they are displaced because of extractive industries, or sometimes because of parks!” said Ms Vicki Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People.
Given protected areas provide ecosystems services to all of us, it is in all of our interests to make sure that Indigenous communities can live on their land and manage it sustainably. “What is lacking is the implementation, the effective implementation of this, and I think that is what we really need to express very strongly in the Promise of Sydney,” added Ms Tauli-Corpuz.
Read more at IUCN World Parks Congress
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is one of the speakers at the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima 6-7 December 2014. She will be a panelist at the session on securing rights as a climate change mitigation strategy.
IUCN and CIFOR are hosting a Discussion Forum on Knowledge products and tools for sustainable landscape management.
FAO is hosting sessions on Resilience, vulnerability and climate-smart agriculture and Forest Information Systems for REDD+.
Other sessions related to indigenous peoples and protecting rights are