Categories ICCA and conservation policy, ICCA on the international level, Key policies

ICCAs in the Outcomes of the 5th World Parks Congress (WPC), 2003

First published on 12/31/2003, and last updated on 06/26/2017

Held in Durban, South Africa, from 8-17 September 2003, IUCN’s 5th World Parks Congress was a watershed moment for ICCAs and for indigenous peoples and local communities more generally in international conservation policy, particularly due to its recognition that respecting human rights would advance, not diminish, conservation outcomes. It also articulated a ‘new paradigm’ for protected areas that integrates conservation goals with sustainable development in an equitable way and, for the first time, systematised the concept of ‘governance’ of protected areas. Principles of the new paradigm include recognition of protected area governance by indigenous peoples and local communities, respect for indigenous peoples’ knowledge and contributions to conservation globally, and respect for human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights. Rooted in previous years’ work on equity in conservation, this new paradigm had become an imperative that could no longer be ignored and was a necessary change to align the conservation sector with prevailing social, political, economic and scientific conditions. The Congress’s main policy outcomes of relevance to ICCAs were the Durban Accord, Durban Action Plan, several Recommendations, and a message to the CBD.

Durban Accord and Action Plan

For the first time in international conservation policy, the Durban Accord and Durban Action Plan acknowledged the concept of governance of protected areas and recognised the governance and conservation roles of indigenous peoples and local communities. They also included commitments to secure the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to natural resources and biodiversity conservation (Durban Action Plan, Outcome 5) and involve local communities and indigenous and mobile peoples in the creation, proclamation and management of protection areas (Durban Accord, pg. 222). Both included a number of specific references to Community Conserved Areas and closely related terms and concepts.

The Durban Accord committed to recognise, strengthen, protect and support community conservation areas (Durban Accord, pg. 223). The Durban Action Plan recommended to the Conference of the Parties to the CBD to recognise the diversity of protected area governance types, including Community Conserved Areas and indigenous conservation areas (Durban Action Plan, Outcome 1: International action; Outcome 5: International action). It called on state governments to recognise the contributions and status of Community Conserved Areas, community managed areas and private and indigenous community reserves within national protected area systems, where such areas meet the IUCN and CBD definitions of a protected area and with their free, prior and informed consent (Outcome 1: National and local action; Outcome 5: National and local action and Protected area authority action). It also called on state governments to adapt the management of Community Conserved Areas (and protected areas) to the special needs of mobile communities (Outcome 3: National and local action). The Durban Action Plan also committed the World Commission on Protected Areas to update the IUCN Protected Areas Management Categories to reflect the diversity of governance arrangements, including Community Conserved Areas and indigenous-owned and managed protected areas (Outcome 3: IUCN-led action on protected area categorisation). Other specific references to Community Conserved Areas were in relation to participatory evaluation of protected area management (Durban Action Plan, Outcome 4: Protected area authority action), IUCN provision of support to indigenous peoples and local communities and other authorities (Outcome 5: IUCN-led action on indigenous peoples and local community engagement), empowering communities to contribute to conservation and sustainable livelihoods (Outcome 7: Protected area authority action), and supporting the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to acquire and maintain data of the same (Outcome 8: International action).


The Congress adopted 32 Recommendations, 7 of which explicitly referenced Community Conserved Areas and closely related terms and concepts. The most prominent was a Recommendation wholly dedicated to Community Conserved Areas, which recommended (inter alia) that governments recognise, promote and support such areas through a range of actions and that such areas be promoted by the CBD in its Programme of Work on protected areas and integrated into the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories (Recommendation V.26: Community Conserved Areas). Another Recommendation recognised Community Conserved Areas of mobile indigenous peoples in particular (Recommendation V.27: Mobile Indigenous Peoples and Conservation).

ne of the key advancements of the Congress was the recognition of and support for a diversity of protected area governance types. This included a recommendation to recognise Community Conserved Areas as one of the four main governance types and for Parties to the CBD to recognise as legitimate all of these governance types (Recommendation V.17: Recognising and Supporting a Diversity of Governance Types for Protected Areas). Governments were also recommended to promote and adopt laws and policies that recognise Community Conserved Areas (Recommendation V.13: Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas). Other Recommendations called for support and funding to indigenous peoples for community-conserved, co-managed and indigenous-owned and –managed protected areas (Recommendation V.24: Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas) and for more inclusive interpretations of protected area categories such as Community Conserved Areas that reflect the interests and initiatives of ‘the poor’ (Recommendation V.29: Poverty and Protected Areas). Finally, Community Conserved Areas were referenced as means to enhance coverage of protected areas (Recommendation V.4: Building Comprehensive and Effective Protected Area Systems).

In addition to Recommendations specifically providing for Community Conserved Areas, these and other Recommendations were rife with references to governance, participation, equity and rights in the context of protected areas. This provided a strong policy basis for further elaboration of the role of Community Conserved Areas in subsequent years under the IUCN as well as the CBD.

Congress Message to the CBD

As its final key policy outcome, the 5th World Parks Congress issued a five-page message to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that acknowledged the need for a ‘new paradigm’ for protected areas and called on the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) to consider four sets of actions and to, inter alia, adopt a programme of work on protected areas that responds to the needs identified at the Congress. The second of the four sets of actions (“Benefits, Equity and Participation”) noted the negative impacts that protected areas may have on indigenous peoples and local communities and the importance of securing indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands and territories, and called on the CBD COP by 2010 to, inter alia, “reform protected area policies, systems and funding arrangements to effectively support community conserved areas…” (pg. 2-3). The third set of actions (“Enabling Activities”) stated that key actions to promote appropriate protected area governance and policies include, inter alia, recognising the diversity of protected areas governance approaches (such as community conserved areas and indigenous conservation areas) and encouraging Parties to support this diversity.

Extensive references to Community Conserved Areas in the outcomes of the 5th World Parks Congress set the stage for the next phase of recognition of ICCAs by the 7th Conference of the Parties the CBD (CBD COP 7)  in Kuala Lumpur in 2004.