Following two weeks of often tense negotiations of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), in Montreal, Canada, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) praised the text for its “strong language on respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.”
In a statement to the closing plenary of the meeting, the IIFB said: “The IIFB celebrates the timely recognition of Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ contributions, roles, rights, and responsibilities to Mother Earth in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. “We have spoken and you have heard us, let us now put those words into action.
“Let us move swiftly towards implementation, build meaningful partnerships, and ensure adequate and direct access of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to resources to ensure that we achieve the ambition set out in this Framework.”
Speaking on the final day of the meeting, the Co-Chair of the IIFB, Lucy Mulenkei from Kenya, said “Indigenous Peoples and local communities are happy that finally, we are here. Most of the recommendations that we had submitted and negotiated are already reflected. We leave Montreal happy and ready for the implementation journey. We are glad we never gave up even when times were tough.”
“We still have a journey, a journey that Indigenous Peoples and local communities have always taken. We will move forward to ensure the implementation of the GBF is a success,” she said.
The urgency of the environmental crisis does not end with the signing of the Framework, stated IIFB.
“We must work quickly and efficiently for its implementation,” said Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, IIFB Co-Chair from Nepal, delivering the IIFB’s closing statement.
“From the depths of our territories, our ancestors and authorities are urging serious actions to protect our Mother Earth and all life, together with us,” he said.
“The voices of Indigenous Peoples are the voice of Nature”, said Viacheslav Shadrin, Chief of the Yukagir Indigenous Peoples from the Russian Arctic.
“It’s historic. It’s a moment to celebrate,” said Jennifer Tauli Corpuz, an IIFB representative from the Kankana-ey Igorot People of Mountain Province in the Philippines.
Viviana Figueroa, from the Omaguaca-Kolla peoples in Argentina, speaking on behalf of IIFB, said “they are recognising that Indigenous Peoples can also make contributions to biodiversity conservation.”
“For us, it’s a major shift – they are recognising this important role that was invisible,” she said.
She particularly welcomed the inclusion of indigenous rights into Target 3 on protecting one-third of the world’s ocean and land territory (the ‘30×30’ target).
“This is incredibly significant, as without the inclusion [of Indigenous Peoples’ rights] we could suffer human rights violations in the name of conservation,” said Figueroa.
The IIFB welcomed the recognition of the efforts of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs), and urge for increased direct access to financial resources for all IPLCs in the seven socio-cultural regions inclusive of all landscapes and seascapes, less bureaucratic financial mechanisms and inclusion in the GBF governance committees to better design and implementation of grants.
The agreement was also praised as being strong on the customary sustainable use of natural resources.
Aslak Holmberg, president of the Saami Council in Finland and the IIFB’s regional coordinator for the Arctic, said that states and Indigenous Peoples, and local communities will have to work together to make the biodiversity framework a reality. Holmberg’s traditional fishing practices – protected in the GBF under the terms of “customary sustainable use” – were criminalised by fishing regulations in 2017.
The final text approved at COP15 should help to avoid such problems in the future as it underlines the need for Indigenous Peoples to be able to fulfill their rights to “customary sustainable use” of natural resources. Although local laws can be very powerful, Holmberg is hopeful that cases such as this will now be minimised as states and peoples work together to achieve a sustainable future.
The Kunming-Montreal GBF recognizes the integrity and distinct nature of the lands, territories, and resources of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and their full and equitable participation in decision-making towards implementing the framework.
IIFB welcomes partnerships in applying the adopted monitoring and reporting framework through community-based monitoring. Robust indicators for monitoring the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities will provide a fuller picture of post-2020 GBF implementation, also applying indigenous concepts and local languages.
“The approval of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework creates challenges for the national implementation, particularly for the recognition and respect of Indigenous Peoples’ rights,” said Ramiro Batzin, Co-Chair of the IIFB, from Guatemala.
“The IIFB is ready to work with governments to implement the GBF at the national level,” he said.