Strategic Goal C

Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity


Why the goal is important to indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs)

The safeguarding of ecosystems, species and genetic diversity is directly in line with IPLCs’ priorities because it can support their efforts to safeguard their lands and resources. In addition, many threatened species are culturally significant to IPLCs, while genetic diversity underlies the livelihoods and food security of many IPLCs, especially in their agricultural systems. However, all too often, conservation measures continue to be imposed from above, without attention to issues of equity or appropriate opportunities for participation. This can cause extreme suffering, for example, as the result of forced evictions and displacement from traditional lands and resources; loss of livelihoods and food security following the criminalisation of traditional hunting and harvesting practices; and the loss of life, livestock and crops because of increased human-wildlife conflicts.

Experiences of IPLCs and contributions to the goal

Many IPLCs actively manage their customary lands and waters in ways that conserve them effectively, and these merit greater recognition and support. This positive relationship is exemplified by Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs), which are among the most effective territory or area-based conservation measures and cover about 12% of the world’s land area. Many threatened species, including emblematic species, are actively conserved by IPLCs through customary rules and laws that guide and restrict their use. Communities are also increasingly active in monitoring threatened species and in the early identification of problems or threats. IPLCs also contribute to the maintenance of genetic diversity, particularly through their agricultural practices, and in many cases these practices provide important lessons for wider strategies to protect genetic diversity. Maintenance of crop diversity on farms and of wild plant relatives goes hand in hand with food security and security of incomes. Indigenous women play particularly important roles in this, often making key decisions about which seed varieties to maintain, propagate or discard. Livestock-keeping communities (pastoralists) play a crucial role in ensuring the continued existence of different breeds, safeguarding the genetic diversity of farmed and domesticated animals.

Key potential actions related to IPLCs that could accelerate progress, if more widely applied

  • Support area-based conservation by IPLCs through formal recognition of customary rights under national law, and through appropriate recognition of ICCAs and sacred sites.
  • Enhance implementation of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas and review national institutional and legal frameworks on protected area governance and management.
  • Urgently address equity and human rights issues related to conservation (particularly protected areas). Displacement of IPLCs from their lands and resources in contravention of international law should cease immediately.
  • Promote the development of national monitoring and conflict resolution mechanisms to complement existing international mechanisms.
  • Increase training opportunities for IPLCs and engagement with traditional knowledge-holders, to increase the effectiveness of conservation actions.
  • Increase technical and financial support for community mapping, community-based monitoring and wider community conservation actions.
  • Enhance support for on-farm and in-situ conservation by IPLCs, with a special focus on women’s contributions and on the role of traditional knowledge.