The Fostering Community Conservation Conference was held last 31 August to 4 September 2015 in Durban, South Africa.
The conference was part of a new initiative implemented by the Global Forest Coalition in collaboration with a large number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, the Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI).
The aim of the CCRI is to contribute to providing policy advice on effective and appropriate forms of support for community conservation. There is an increasing scientific and political recognition that conservation and restoration initiatives by Indigenous Peoples and local communities can contribute significantly to forest and biodiversity conservation and restoration. The project will document and review the findings of bottom-up, participatory assessments of the resilience of community conservation initiatives in at least 20 countries, including Colombia, Chile, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nepal, Panama, Paraguay, Russia, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uganda. The CCRI is expected to have a significant multiplier effect that can generate effective and appropriate support for community conservation initiatives, by encouraging an enabling environment that strengthens them.
The Fostering Community Conservation Conference discussed the initial findings of participatory community conservation resilience assessments that are currently taking place in 30 different communities in 10 different countries. The goal of the conference was to contribute to a global dialogue between a diverse group of rightsholders and others on how to strengthen the resilience of community conservation initiatives in the light of local and global threats.
The main recommendations of the multi-stakeholder conference were disseminated at the 14th World Forestry Congress, which took place 7-11 September 2015 in Durban.
KEY RECOMMENDATIONS TO POLICY-MAKERS
The aim of the Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI) is to contribute to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2011-2020 Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets, by providing policy advice on effective and appropriate forms of support for community conservation. The project is documenting and reviewing the findings of bottom up, participatory assessments of at least 60 communities in 20 different countries, of the resilience of their community conservation initiatives and the support that should be provided to strengthen these initiatives. The preliminary reports of these assessments were presented and discussed at the Fostering Community Conservation Conference, which took place from 31 August to 4 September in Durban, South Africa. The conference discussed the importance of community conservation initiatives for sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity, their resilience, and internal and external threats, and formulated a number of joint recommendations to enhance the resilience of community conservation.
Conference participants recommended that international and national policy-makers should:
1. Recognise the fundamental and non-negotiable rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and women, including by explicitly subscribing to and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
2. Halt all forms of violence against environmental activists and recognize civil society groups as allies in the struggle for more democratic governance systems;
3. Promote women’s participation and leadership in all levels of biodiversity-related policy-making;
4. Respect the self-determination of communities, especially regarding their own means of subsistence;
5. Respect land tenure, resolve land disputes, and recognise and protect indigenous peoples’ territories and community lands;
6. Promote ecosystem conservation and recovery, which also contributes significantly to climate change resilience;
7. Ensure appropriate recognition and protection of sacred sites and other Indigenous and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs), and related rights;
8. Halt the further expansion of State-controlled protected areas, and replace them with ICCAs;
9. Ensure restitution of community lands, and re-empower communities to govern and manage their own areas. ICCAs should not be turned into co-managed protected areas, unless all rights are fully respected and communities are empowered to take the lead in their governance;
10. Develop new legislation and adapt and strengthen existing legislation to support community conservation in an appropriate way that respects traditional governance rights, and ensure effective implementation of these laws;
11. Create awareness and educate government staff on Indigenous and community rights
12. Support the legal and political empowerment of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and ensure their full and effective participation in decision-making including through mechanisms like Indigenous councils;
13. Include local experts in traditional knowledge and governance systems in government initiatives to develop or review National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans;
14. Secure the rights of communities to conserve and restore their biodiversity through indigenous and local practices such as gathering forest products, fire management, shifting cultivation or pastoralism;
15. Support and facilitate local productive activities, including traditional farming, agroecology, community controlled sustainable energy systems, sustainable use of non-timber forest products, and proper public services and infrastructure for local communities;
16. Recognize the rights and roles of communities to conserve and exchange seeds, and halt legislative processes that undermine such rights and practices;
17. Increase the conservation capacity of communities and their awareness of threats which might force them to overuse resources, keeping in mind that the social and economic aspirations of communities should be smaller than the capacity of ecosystems they depend on;
18. Change forest definitions: Plantations are not Forests! Especially in the implementation of the SDGs there should be a clear distinction between the restoration of natural and secondary forests, and tree plantation establishment;
19. Properly evaluate and assess ecosystem conditions before any resource extraction or other form of development takes place;
20. Determine and address the direct and underlying causes of forest loss, such as trade liberalization, industrial-scale agriculture and forestry, energy megaprojects and large infrastructural projects on indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ territories and lands, including through redirecting investments, subsidies and other perverse incentives;
21. Reject false solutions to climate change like REDD+, bioenergy and BECCS;
22. Transform sustainable development models that focus on economic growth and negatively impact Indigenous and local cultures into genuine sustainable livelihood models.
Communities involved until August 2015 include:
- Communities in the Kebeles of Dinsho-02, Mio and Abakera, in Dinsho District, in the Bale Mountains area of Ethiopia
- The Santa Bárbara-Quilaco-Alto Bio-Bío, Tralcao-Mapu and Chanlelfu communities in southern Chile
- The Udege people, from the Sikhote-Alin mountain range in the South Russian Far East
- The villages of Toamua, Saina and Vaiusu in Samoa
- Communities in the Mariepskop area and Houtbosloop Valley in Mpumalanga province, South Africa
- The Usdub Community and various other communities in Guna Yala in Panama
- The San Miguel community in Minga Porâ, and the Maracaná community, both in the East of Paraguay; and La Esperanza, an Enhlet indigenous community in the lower Chaco region
- Communities in the villages of Bukaleba, Kalangala and Butimba villages in eastern, central and south-western Uganda respectively
- Communities in Sulufou and Fera Subua in northeast Malaita in the Solomon Islands
- The Abolhassani Indigenous Nomadic Tribal Confederacy, the Taklé Tribe of the Shahsevan Indigenous Nomadic Tribal Confederacy, and the Farrokhvand Tribe of Bakhtiari Indigenous Tribal Confederacy, in Iran
The Fostering Community Conservation Conference is supported through financial contributions from The Christensen Fund and and the German International Climate Initiative (IKI), and organised in collaboration with the Siemenpuu Foundation and Natural Justice.
See also the declaration of the XIV World Forestry Congress organised by South Africa and FAO: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/wfc2015/Documents/Durban_Declaration_draft.pdf