Local Biodiversity Outlooks presents the perspectives and experiences of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) on the current social-ecological crisis and their contributions to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The first edition (LBO-1) was produced in 2016 as a complement to the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-4) and has become a key source of evidence about the actions and contributions of IPLCs towards achieving the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Part II: Progress during the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011–2020; Key messages on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets from the perspectives of IPLCs
Strategic Goal A
Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
Worldviews that separate nature and culture are an underlying cause of biodiversity loss, as cultures condition behaviours and frame people’s relationships with other people and with the natural world. The holistic and diverse value systems and ways of life of IPLCs across the world offer culturally distinctive visions of alternative sustainable futures which need to be understood, respected and protected across the whole of government, economy and society. Yet, the cultures of IPLCs and the associated rich biodiversity on their lands continue to be eroded and displaced by dominant unsustainable production and consumption systems that are destroying the planet’s biodiversity.
In addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, IPLCs, governments, conservation organisations and other actors should:
- Promote holistic approaches linking nature and culture within integrated social-ecological systems.
- Support cultural revitalisation and inter-cultural exchange.
- Engage IPLCs in local, national and global decision-making processes, upholding secure land tenure, local and indigenous knowledge, and full respect for individual and collective rights.
- Develop a new policy framework for sustainable production and consumption which enables the immediate upscaling of sustainable local economies.
Strategic Goal B
Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
Natural habitats, plants and animals, and the benefits that people receive from nature are declining at an alarming rate, in large part as a direct result of the expansion of agribusiness and extractive industries fuelled by the current economic growth paradigm. Their decline is slower in the lands, waters and territories of indigenous peoples than elsewhere as a result of their governance, values and practices, but they are still under great pressure. IPLCs in many countries are central actors in sustainable agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry and as caretakers of habitats. A radical transformation in governance is required, to one that fully recognises the role of IPLCs in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their contribution to protecting ecosystems, both of which are currently under-reported and under-valued.
IPLCs own and manage at least 50 per cent of the world’s land area, and many are working in policy fora and on the ground to defend their territories, manage their resources sustainably, and combat pollution, invasive alien species and the impacts of climate change. However, their lands and waters and the biodiversity that they contain are under direct threats from industrial-scale development and illegal incursions. IPLCs working to counter these threats and conserve their lands are paying a high price for doing so. They are facing increasing intimidation, criminalisation and violence, including assassinations of community leaders.
- Governments and other actors should support IPLCs to protect their lands, waters, territories and biodiversity by applying a human-rights-based approach, including:
- measures to secure IPLCs’ customary land and water tenure and uphold their rights;
- effective safeguards for environmental defenders;
- support for greater participation of IPLCs in relevant policy forums;
- harmonisation of relevant aspects of international and national law and policy;
- zero tolerance of human rights violations.
- National and global statistics on the contributions of small-scale producers, including IPLCs, should be improved.
- Innovative fiscal measures should be taken to support local sustainable economies.
- Accountability of industries responsible for pollution and environmental damage should be increased.
- Support and resources for IPLCs’ important contributions in addressing direct drivers of biodiversity loss, based on indigenous and local knowledge and practices, should be increased.
Strategic Goal C
Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
IPLCs are on the frontlines safeguarding genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. A high proportion of ecosystems rich in biodiversity, including many threatened species, is governed under customary or community-based regimes. Moreover, IPLCs also manage and enhance genetic diversity, especially in their highly diverse agroecological production systems.
A conceptual change is called for from ‘conservation as the objective’ of external interventions in seemingly ‘natural’ areas without human influence, towards understanding that high conservation outcomes arise from ongoing culturally rooted relationships between humans and nature, as manifested by IPLCs with their lands, territories and resources. A radical transformation is needed from current conservation approaches that exclude and alienate IPLCs, to rights-based collaborative approaches that support and promote community-led conservation and customary sustainable use and that celebrate the mutual relations between nature and culture.
- Governments, conservation agencies and relevant actors should promote and support the transformation of conservation towards:
- recognising and prioritising the complex and enriched ecological mosaic that IPLCs’ lands and territories deliver, with high conservation outcomes blossoming from culturally rooted approaches;
- rights-based collaborative approaches that support and promote community ways of life that enrich relationships between humans and nature;
- a qualitative focus on fair and good governance, justice and equity rather than a focus on quantitative expansion of protected and conserved areas.
- All actors should recognise and respect IPLCs as rights-holders, and respect and support their distinct and special relationship to land, waters, territories and resources.
- Appropriate legal measures should be enacted for recognition of IPLC territories and self-governance.
- Support should be increased for community-led conservation.
- Human rights and equity should be upheld in all forms of conservation.
- All actors should mainstream species protection, including in production landscapes and biocultural habitats, and work with IPLCs to protect and enhance genetic diversity, including in local food systems.
- All actors should commit to much greater coordination and cooperation across scales and jurisdictions for safeguarding genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.
Strategic Goal D
Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
For IPLCs, the ecosystems and habitats that provide ‘essential services’ are their customary lands, territories, waters and resources, which support livelihoods and meet spiritual and cultural needs. Guided by IPLCs’ cultural ethics of maintaining harmonious relationships between humans and nature, collective lands and territories also play vital roles for the greater good by storing carbon, building ecosystem resilience, and in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Yet, under current economic and value systems these lands continue to be usurped and degraded by interventions to privatise and commodify these resources. Indigenous and local knowledge is particularly valuable in ecological restoration and resilience building, but this knowledge continues to be undervalued and is still often neglected in ecological restoration programmes. National implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization should foster broader benefit-sharing streams for IPLCs, based on their customary relationships with and management of their lands, territories and resources, including from seeds, genetic and biological resources, and bio-trade.
- Governments should fulfil their obligations to: respect and protect the rights of IPLCs to their lands, waters and resources; respect and prioritise their cultural values, including in relation to sacred sites and culturally important species; and promote health, livelihoods and wellbeing, especially for women, the poor and the vulnerable.
- Governments should upscale recognition and accessible, equitable funding for IPLC actions towards ecosystem protection, carbon sequestration, restoration and resilience-building, with full recognition of the role of indigenous and local knowledge.
- Equitable benefit-sharing frameworks should be developed to reward IPLCs for their conservation and their customary management and sustainable use of biodiversity through partnerships and collaborations.
Strategic Goal E
Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity-building
IPLCs make substantial contributions towards all three objectives of the Convention, through their traditional knowledge, customary sustainable use and collective actions. While their role has started to be recognised in global processes, it is still poorly recognised in National Biodiversity Strategies and Actions Plans (NBSAPs) and in most countries mechanisms for IPLCs’ full and effective participation at the national and local levels are yet to be developed. Community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS) are effective tools for highlighting local needs and priorities, making IPLCs’ contributions visible, and providing concrete data and information about the implementation of global and national policy commitments on the ground.
- Governments should establish national and sub-national mechanisms to enable full and effective participation of IPLCs in national strategies and action plans, and to mainstream traditional knowledge, customary sustainable use and equitable benefit-sharing.
- Institutional support and direct, long-term funding should be increased, in line with needs identified by IPLCs.
- Links between diverse knowledge systems should be strengthened throughout global, national and local monitoring and reporting platforms, incorporating relevant indicators on trends in traditional knowledge and the wellbeing of IPLCs.
- National and global data and reporting systems should generate disaggregated data on the status of indigenous peoples, local communities, women, youth and marginalised groups, including through support and funding for complementary CBMIS by IPLCs.
- Robust environmental, social and cultural safeguards and measures should be integrated into all resource mobilisation processes.
Part III: Biodiversity, climate and sustainable development
Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development brings together biodiversity conservation, climate change and sustainable development under a common universal agenda, but in many countries they are still implemented and considered in silos. IPLCs will continue to be disproportionately impacted if the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not met. Nonetheless, these goals can empower IPLCs to overcome vulnerability and exclusion through the power of their collective actions and self-determined development, and government support. IPLCs make distinctive contributions to meeting global goals in an integrated and holistic way. Placing them at the centre of implementation delivers a triple win, bringing together the fulfilment of human rights and wellbeing, the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the maintenance of natural ecosystems to manage climate change. Indicators on the rights and wellbeing of IPLCs constitute important measures of progress in the implementation of the global agenda for change.
Cultural diversity is a creative source and enabler for sustainable development. Culture provides peoples and communities with a strong sense of identity and social cohesion. Policies responsive to cultural contexts can yield better, sustainable, inclusive and equitable development outcomes. Progress in meeting the pledge to “leave no one behind” requires robust monitoring frameworks engaging those most directly experiencing social exclusion and structural discrimination.
The Indigenous Navigator is a participatory monitoring tool which enables indigenous peoples to generate data on trends in recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in development, to analyse their situation, and to develop strategies to address their concerns. It also allows them to track the implementation of international policy instruments, including the SDGs, and equips them to hold states to account and to engage confidently with key stakeholders and demand policy change. To date, the experiences of indigenous communities from 11 countries have been collated through the Indigenous Navigator. Life on Land (SDG15) stands out as the priority for IPLCs, alongside addressing poverty (SDG1), reducing inequality, including in relation to gender (SDGs 10 and 5), quality education (SDG4), and good health and wellbeing (SDG3). Absence of citizenship, legal recognition and social protection measures for indigenous peoples were highlighted as barriers limiting meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in the SDGs.
- Governments and relevant actors should collaborate to jointly develop NBSAPs and climate-related nationally determined contributions and integrate them into national development plans to secure synergies across biodiversity, climate and sustainable development.
- Governments and other actors should recognise rights and apply democratic principles at all levels to secure benefits across the whole of society as they work to address challenges related to development, biodiversity and climate change.
- IPLCs should continue to upscale community-based monitoring and information systems, building an evidence base and striving for increased transparency and accountability at all levels.
- IPLCs should also scale up individual and collective actions, building on intergenerational knowledge in creative, innovative problem-solving. They should also promote understanding of the linkages between nature and culture and between the local and the global.
- All actors should develop partnerships for generating knowledge and for sustainable and equitable outcomes, including through:
- greater recognition of the value of indigenous and local knowledge alongside scientific knowledge;
- participatory research;
- education for sustainable development;
- the use of appropriate and innovative technologies;
- the creation of multi-actor knowledge platforms.
Part IV: Transitions towards living in harmony with nature
“Nature needs urgent measures. We need to act now to protect our biodiversity. There is no more time to waste. The recognition of our rights to govern our own territories and practice our knowledge contributes to community and ecosystem resilience. As the guardians and defenders of Mother Earth, we urge all governments to act on behalf of biodiversity. See us as the most valuable part of the solution and work together with us towards a new relationship with nature – one that heals and sustains for all of our future generations.”
— International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity statement, February 2020, Rome
IPLCs and biodiversity under threat
IPLCs are acutely experiencing the loss of biological and cultural diversity. These losses stem from unsustainable global systems of values, knowledge, governance, production, consumption, technology, economics, incentives and trade, all underlain by unequal decision-making power regarding the future of nature and peoples. The roots of these problems lie in the prevailing view of humans as separate from nature and in value systems that favour individual interests and profit-making. Nature is seen as an economic resource to be exploited and its degradation is treated as an externality of mainstream economics.
Reforms in governance are a critical part of the solution. Decision-making dominated by elites and powerful vested interests is often linked to systemic corruption and distortions of democratic rule, with large parts of society left behind. Incentives and subsidies are primarily directed towards the growth of unsustainable production and consumption patterns, including through agro-industrial food systems which too often result in unhealthy foods and diets. The crisis in biodiversity, climate change and development are in part a direct consequence of these factors.
Encroachment into and disruption of natural ecosystems and current industrial agricultural practices have also given rise to unprecedented opportunities for increased prevalence of multiple zoonotic diseases, including coronaviruses, the latest causing COVID-19. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities and lack of resilience of human health systems, simultaneously impacting economic and trade systems, financial systems, food systems, and social and political systems. These systemic and interrelated problems call for joined-up solutions that will not lock in ‘business as usual’ approaches, challenging humanity to urgently re-envisage and renew our social and cultural relationships with each other and with nature.
Nature and culture transitions towards the 2050 vision
The values, ways of life, knowledge, resource governance and management systems, economies and technologies of IPLCs have much to offer towards addressing these crises and towards reimagining the diverse global systems that can deliver shared visions of solidarity and of “no one left behind”. IPLCs propose changes towards more balanced relationships within societies and with nature through six key transitions:
- Cultural transitions towards diverse ways of knowing and doing
- Land transitions towards securing customary land tenure of IPLCs
- Governance transitions towards inclusive decision-making and self-determined development
- Incentives and financial transitions towards rewarding effective culture-based solutions
- Economic transitions towards sustainable use and diverse local economies
- Food transitions towards revitalising indigenous and local food systems.
Each of these transitions addresses specific urgent issues and contains their own dynamics but are systemically linked to each other; indeed, no single transition can succeed alone, and they need to take place simultaneously, and be deployed in mutually reinforcing ways to maximise the potential for transformation. These transitions have now become imperatives for IPLCs’ survival and the continued health of the biosphere, the limits of which have been breached.
Cultural transitions towards diverse ways of knowing and being
Humanity’s diverse ways of living, knowing and being in nature are celebrated, promoting plural values and worldviews across our economic, political and social systems, thereby securing the mutual resilience of nature and society. The diverse cultures of IPLCs inform and inspire the blossoming of new cultural narratives that locate humanity within a living, intelligent and sacred world.
Education for sustainable development is universal and the importance of biodiversity and cultural values are widely understood. People everywhere have relevant information, awareness and the capacity for sustainable development and lifestyles that are in harmony with nature.
Life on Earth has been a process of co-evolution—biological diversity alongside human diversity, creating genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. Today, Earth’s life-support systems are in rapid decline and all of humanity’s creative intelligences are needed to address the planetary crisis. Contemporary IPLCs, whose cultures and values embody historical knowledge and relationships with ancestral lands and waters, have special importance in conserving and restoring vital ecosystems under threat. Modern societies can learn from IPLCs about being a part of living ecosystems and about humans participating in an intelligent and sacred world. New narratives and visions of culture and nature working together can transform the current imbalance in relationships between humans and nature.
Among the ground-breaking advances in recent years has been the inclusion of indigenous and local knowledges alongside the sciences, as complementary systems of knowledge for achieving fuller and richer understandings of biodiversity—its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss at different scales.
Key components of the transition:
- Promoting biological and cultural diversity, sustainability, languages, human rights and heritage in school curricula and informal education.
- Transmitting indigenous and local knowledge in schools, youth programmes, information and education campaigns, cultural festivals and celebrations, social media and public communication.
- Having sustained interactions between scientific knowledge systems and indigenous and local knowledge systems.
- Renewing and exchanging cultures through the arts and the media.
Land transitions towards securing customary land tenure of IPLCs
The territories of life of IPLCs, including their distinct cultural, spiritual and customary relationships with their lands and waters and their intrinsic and vital contributions to human wellbeing, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation, are secured. The collective lands, territories and resources of IPLCs are legally recognised and protected in keeping with international law; land-use classifications and land registration to uphold customary tenure are reformed; and the global coverage of areas conserved, sustainably used and restored are progressively and significantly increased.
Collective land and territories are of existential importance for the continued survival of IPLCs and biodiversity, and for securing wider global benefits. In many parts of the world, the lands of indigenous peoples are becoming islands of biological and cultural diversity surrounded by areas in which nature has further deteriorated; in many instances, biodiversity is increased and enhanced through indigenous values and practices. Failing to recognise this and to secure IPLC lands, territories, waters and resources, together with the high conservation values they contain, is one of the biggest missed opportunities for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of the past decade. A transition towards securing customary land tenure systems could have huge benefits for biodiversity.
Key components of the transition:
- Upholding the human rights of IPLCs, women and youth, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.
- Adopting and scaling up effective constitutional, legal, policy and institutional frameworks, mechanisms and concrete measures to appropriately and legally recognise and adjudicate IPLCs’ rights to territories, lands and resources and to respect their customary tenure systems.
- Reforming land governance and strengthening measures to ensure businesses comply with human rights and environmental standards.
- Strengthening IPLC governance institutions over lands, territories and resources, including community participatory mapping, demarcation and monitoring.
- Transforming conservation policy and practice towards rights-based and collaborative approaches that support and promote community-led conservation and customary sustainable use, and that celebrate the mutual relations between nature and culture.
- Investing in and supporting partnerships to secure collective land rights, including access to justice and improved accountability, remediation and restitution measures to address violations of IPLCs’ land rights and the protection of environmental human rights defenders.
Governance transitions towards inclusive decision-making and self-determined development
Nested governance institutions, including IPLC authorities, are exercising decision-making at appropriate scales, ensuring whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches that guarantee respect for human rights and diverse biodiversity and cultural values. These governance institutions are upgrading policy, legal and institutional transparency and accountability towards greater equity, wellbeing, sustainability and resilience for all.
Power inequalities in governance systems go hand in hand with imbalances in economic, social and ecological outcomes, and the fragmentation of governmental decision-making into specialised sectors has privileged economic growth over environmental health and social wellbeing. Integrative, holistic, transparent and accountable governance institutions, upholding respect for human rights, and equitable sharing of benefits from nature, will be critical elements in a transition towards just and sustainable outcomes for people and planet. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set out a universal agenda for governments, businesses, all peoples, civil society and all citizens which embeds the universal values of human rights and a pledge to leave no one behind. This principled foundation permeates the whole transformative agenda, encompassing global inequalities, biodiversity, climate change and associated challenges.
Key components of the transition:
- Integrating national implementation strategies and action plans on sustainable development, biodiversity and climate change, based on inclusive participatory approaches and devolved decision-making.
- Reforming laws and policies to encompass plural approaches and increase equity, diversity and resilience.
- Enhancing reporting and accountability mechanisms for periodically assessing country contributions and overall progress.
- Empowering IPLCs and other marginalised groups, including with respect to gender equality and intergenerational equity.
- Consolidating stringent safeguards guaranteeing non-violation of human rights in the implementation of sustainable development, and biodiversity and climate change actions.
Incentives and financial transitions towards rewarding effective culture-based solutions
Incentives, including financial support for IPLCs’ collective actions and innovative culture-based solutions, are prioritised; environmental, social and human rights safeguards on biodiversity financing are applied; and perverse incentives and harmful investments are ended or redirected.
Mobilisation and allocation of resources, both monetary and non-monetary, are key elements in effective implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Currently, far more resources are available for activities that drive biological and cultural diversity loss than for activities that maintain, strengthen and revitalise them. These activities include focusing on market-based solutions and technological fixes that have a strong likelihood of generating further damage rather than addressing underlying causes and systemic change. Examples of such controversial ‘solutions’ include carbon trading, geo-engineering, synthetic biology and gene drives. A major shift in investments, incentives and funding, including on technology assessments, is needed to support activities, especially through the collective actions of IPLCs, and appropriate technologies that benefit both nature and people.
Key components of the transition:
- Fully recognising and reflecting IPLC contributions as monetary and non-monetary forms of resource mobilisation, through appropriate monitoring, accounting and reporting tools.
- Increasing direct funding for IPLCs and for their culture-based solutions and activities towards conservation and sustainable use, and including IPLCs on national committees related to domestic biodiversity financing.
- Monitoring and reporting on resource mobilisation to include disaggregated data on global, regional and domestic support for IPLC collective actions.
- Applying biodiversity financing safeguards in practical and concrete ways, ensuring social inclusion and adherence to human rights standards in all resource mobilisation processes.
- Making REDD+ more effective through early planning, up-front investment, collection of baseline data,and rigorous and widespread monitoring of impacts.
- Embedding technology assessments at all levels of biodiversity policy, planning and implementation.
- Eliminating perverse incentives and applying positive incentives, including directing COVID-19 responses into opportunities to reshape the economy towards sustainability for people and planet.
- Reforming the financial sector to align financial flows with sustainable practices.
Economic transitions towards sustainable use and diverse local economies
Diverse and human-scale economic systems are thriving, within which IPLCs’ customary sustainable use and other small-scale producers are contributing to sustainable and resilient economies, and scaled-down consumption patterns are guaranteeing a sustainable and just society.
Biodiversity loss, climate breakdown and intensifying social inequalities are the consequences of an economic system that seeks infinite growth, yet depends on finite resources. Also, recent research highlights that current large-scale agricultural and food production systems and the continued loss of habitats increase the risk of virus pandemics such as COVID-19. A radical transformation is needed in the current carbon-intensive economic systems and in global systems of production and consumption, a transformation towards a plurality of systems embodying local sustainable use, practices and technologies.
There is no single blueprint for transforming current unsustainable practices, but many diverse solutions, innovations, technologies and alternatives are emerging. Among these, with appropriate recognition and support, IPLCs’ systems of customary sustainable use and small-scale production offer multiple benefits at all levels for biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable development.
Key components of the transition:
- Decentralising, diversifying and innovating economies.
- Shifting from fossil-fuel-based economies to clean energy.
- Recognising and supporting, nationally and sub-nationally, the roles, practices and technologies of IPLCs.
- Partnering to implement the CBD Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity.
- Increasing accountability of businesses and their transformation towards sustainable practices, including in supply chains.
- Recognising and supporting women and youth, who are key actors in revitalising and innovating rural and local sustainable economies.
- Reducing over-consumption and waste, and promoting and implementing the principles of circular economies, which decouple economic activity from the use of finite resources and promote recycling and environmental regeneration.
Food transitions towards revitalising indigenous and local food systems
Vibrant ecosystems and cultures ensure genetic diversity and diverse diets, improving health, resilience and livelihoods. Revitalised indigenous and local food systems contribute to local food security, food sovereignty and agroecology, and underpin a just agricultural transition.
IPLCs have nurtured agricultural biodiversity for millennia, both for food and medicines and for deeper spiritual, cultural and community values, with women paying vital roles. Small-scale producers and family farmers still feed the majority of the world’s people, while using less than 25 per cent of the world’s land, water and fossil fuel energy. Maintaining and expanding diversity in agriculture, landscapes and food systems will be critical in a transformation towards just, healthy and resilient food systems. Transforming unsustainable agro-industrial developments and stopping land-use conversions on IPLCs’ customary lands and waters requires systemic changes across entire food systems, including through strategic land-use planning; enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem values across landscapes; recovering food traditions and cultural heritage values; and taking measures to reduce the consumption of highly processed foods among indigenous peoples and other rural and urban consumers. With food systems across the globe stretched to breaking point, and threats of impending famines linked to the current and future pandemics, food systems will be a frontier of change towards diverse and resilient food systems and local economies.
Key components of the transition:
- Integrating food policies that holistically address all aspects of food systems.
- Securing food sovereignty, local food security and reforming governance.
- Embracing agro-ecology.
- Taking systemic approaches, rather than applying narrow technical fixes.
- Securing access to land and securing land tenure.
- Policy support and funding for grassroots food initiatives such as community seed banks, cooperatives, technological innovations and indigenous management practices.
Part V: IPLCs’ contributions to the 2050 vision
Walking to the future in the footsteps of our ancestors
IPLCs uphold life-affirming cultural relationships with nature as central to nature’s future. Cultural diversity goes hand in hand with biological diversity as humans live our everyday lives in diverse ecosystems. Much of the world’s remaining biodiversity on IPLCs’ lands and waters has been nurtured through IPLCs’ distinct relationships with nature. Securing IPLCs’ continued guardianship of their territories and resources requires states to legally recognise and guarantee the security of collective land tenure of IPLCs and to respect their continued governance institutions and practices.
2020 was planned as a ‘super-year’ for nature and biodiversity, including the adoption of a new, forward-looking global biodiversity strategy to 2050 at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to the CBD in China. A packed schedule of biodiversity processes and events has been overtaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, an event revealing multiple interactions and profound systemic fragility in both human and natural systems. The increasing frequency of pandemics and new forms of zoonotic diseases (those that can be passed from animals to humans) caused by coronaviruses and other vectors highlights imbalances in our relationships with nature, which need addressing beyond the immediate timeframe of the current health emergency. A quick ‘return to normal’, with its multiple imbalances and vulnerabilities in human health systems, food systems, economic and trade systems, financial systems and social and political systems, could deepen our human health and planetary crisis.
The systemic and inter-related problems challenge humanity to explore new pathways towards the vision of living in harmony with nature, by 2050 and beyond. The 2050 biodiversity strategy must envisage a future that is a radical departure from the ‘short-termism’ of quick returns towards long-term holistic solutions.
The six transitions identified by IPLCs as critical pathways to transformation—in diverse ways of knowing and being, in secure land tenure, in inclusive governance, in responsible finance and incentives, in sustainable economies and in local food systems—have now become imperatives for the transformation of failing social, cultural, economic, political and technological systems.
These transitions are intergenerational visions honouring the historical struggles and wisdom of past generations, drawing from the experience and innovations of today’s living generations, and embodying the legacy and hopes for future generations.
The stories and experiences shared in this publication are only a sampling of the myriad actions being taken by IPLCs across the planet. Support by governments and other actors for collective actions by IPLCs could stimulate strategic partnerships for change and enable IPLCs to multiply their contributions to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, climate change mitigation and adaptation and to sustainable development.
We are all future ancestors, challenged to renew the Earth for coming generations. This is humanity’s joint endeavour to save our common home.