In a special membership engagement event held in conjunction with the first session of the 2023 General Assembly, ICCA Consortium Members and Honorary members reviewed draft technical analyses and collectively discussed ideas and potential priorities for the association’s policy and advocacy work in 2023 and beyond
First published on 04/20/2023
By Holly Jonas (Global Coordinator, ICCA Consortium Secretariat)
In December 2022, Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the new global biodiversity framework after many years of negotiations and pandemic-induced delays. The ICCA Consortium participated actively throughout the entire process and had a strong presence in Montreal for the final stages of the negotiation and adoption of the new framework. In early 2023, the ICCA Consortium’s Secretariat prepared two draft technical analyses in three languages for consultation with our membership: one about the new framework overall and one focused on Target 3 specifically. They will be revised based on feedback received and are expected to be published later in April or May.
As part of the consultation process, the Secretariat organised a special membership engagement event on 30 March 2023 to present the main points of the draft analyses, to share region-specific perspectives, and to have an open discussion about Members’ views as we shape the priorities for our policy and advocacy work in 2023 and beyond. Given the strategic importance and timeliness of these issues, this event was held back-to-back with the first session of the association’s 2023 General Assembly.
During this membership engagement event, Ameyali Ramos (International Policy Coordinator from 2020-2022) presented the main points of the draft analyses of the new global biodiversity framework, which were grouped into the following six themes:
- Systematic integration of human rights, the rights-based approach, justice and equity;
- Legal recognition of collective lands, waters and territories of life;
- Beyond protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs);
- Perverse investments and incentive, positive incentives and resource mobilization;
- Protection of environmental human rights defenders; and
- Implementation mechanisms.
Based on discussions during the Latin American regional assembly in January 2023, the membership in Latin America have identified the following current and emerging perspectives and priorities(shared by Carolina Rodriguez during the meeting):
- Organising collective learning spaces and developing communication and education materials, with a strong emphasis on “learning-by-doing”. The priority issues within this are: equitable and inclusive governance, the “third pathway” in Target 3, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (without prejudice to the specific rights of Indigenous Peoples). Educational and communication materials need to use culturally appropriate methods, formats and language(s).
- Engaging with multilateral processes (particularly the UN CBD) and liaising with relevant international and regional bodies (such as the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, CBD Women’s Caucus, Global Youth Biodiversity Network, regional Indigenous organizations, national networks, IUCN, etc.).
- Defending territories of life through actions, early warnings, and sharing experiences. This requires strengthening legal and advocacy capacity and expertise within the membership, as part of the ICCA Consortium’s thematic stream of work on defending territories of life and their defenders.
As shared by Aquilas Koko Ngomo, ICCA Consortium Members and Honorary members in Africa have gathered in different ways since COP15 in December 2022, including country-specific workshops in the Congo Basin and small regional meetings to discuss next steps with the Kigali Action Plan (a key outcome of the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress and the pre-Congress workshops in July 2022). A common vision and priority actions seem to be an emerging, including around legal recognition and security of territories of life and their custodians, strengthening national networks, and sharing experiences within the region, although some disagreements remain about how to self-organize in the region (e.g., through existing or new networks). There is also a desire to have an integrated approach to implementing the new global biodiversity framework and to avoid silo-ization of topics (such as focusing on Target 3 in a vacuum or at the exclusion of other key provisions).
We encourage continuing discussions with our membership in all regions and those in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America to better understand their unique perspectives and priorities.
During the open discussion, Members and Honorary members shared their perspectives and diverse ideas and proposals for what the association should focus on next with our collective policy and advocacy work. Key points included the following:
- Focus on creative and progressive interpretation and implementation of the new global biodiversity framework at national and sub-national levels and advocating for supportive enabling environments (e.g., through financial mechanisms and legal systems).
- This advocacy, interpretation and implementation process needs to be rooted in the self-strengthening processes of custodians of territories of life and in national networks, as well as a “learning-by-doing” approach. A significant amount of work has already been done within the membership and needs to be built upon; we are not starting from scratch.
- ‘Translate’ and democratize the content and analysis of the new framework, including through technical guidance and appropriate educational and communications materials, so it is more accessible to and understandable for custodians of territories of life and their supporting organizations. There is a particular interest in better understanding Target 3, given historical and continuing challenges with top-down protected areas and concerns that state governments will take similar approaches to OECMs, irrespective of international standards and guidance.
- Monitor, analyze and share knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned with interpretation and implementation of the new framework and specific provisions (such as Target 3) within and between national networks, regions, and internationally. This includes experiences with policy and legal recognition and related advocacy processes (e.g., through CBD Parties’ processes of updating their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans).
- Promote an integrated approach to advocacy, interpretation, implementation, monitoring, and reporting on the new framework (e.g., in relation to free, prior and informed consent, protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, Article 8(j) and related provisions, territories of life in specific contexts such as pastoralism or marine and coastal systems, etc.). Although a significant amount of attention has been placed on Target 3 in particular, we need to consider the new framework in its entirety and more broadly in the context of the Convention itself and the body of international biodiversity law adopted by CBD Parties since 1992.
- Discuss systemic issues such as climate breakdown and human rights violations in the name of conservation and other specific sectors, as well as new and controversial topics such as other effective area-based conservation measures, carbon markets and biodiversity credits and offsets (e.g., in the context of perverse or positive incentives and financing), and divisive vs. unified approaches to rights-based advocacy. Such discussions would help us (collectively) to better understand the interrelations between these issues and potential implications for territories of life and their custodians, and to undertake more informed and effective advocacy efforts.
As a specific opportunity currently on the horizon: the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas is coordinating a process to develop a guide on Target 3 for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the main financial mechanism for implementation of the UN CBD. Whether the Target 3 guide is more regressive or more progressive, it will likely have a significant and direct influence on how state governments will interpret and implement Target 3 and the new global biodiversity framework. Participating in its drafting is thus a key opportunity for ICCA Consortium Members and Honorary members to engage, if they wish to do so. The first draft of this Target 3 guide is now available for review, with opportunities to provide feedback and comments from April-June, before the guide is finalized and launched at the GEF assembly in August 2023. If you wish to be part of this process, please contact your relevant regional coordination team and/or send your comments directly to the group that is drafting this guide (T3Guide@oldtownhill.org).
This membership engagement event on 30 March identified a wide range of topics and ideas for our policy and advocacy work in 2023 and beyond, with a particular emphasis on the new global biodiversity framework. A key next step is to prioritize and focus our collective efforts on some specific areas of work and actions and to clarify who will take the lead, who will support in what ways, and what resources are needed to take this work forward. As the ICCA Consortium is a membership-based association driven primarily by voluntary collective action, it is especially important to focus on what Members and Honorary members can do together and to support complementarity and cross-pollination of self-organized actions. When the membership has specific expectations and requests of the Secretariat, this needs to be aligned with and respectful of existing capacities and realities in the Secretariat.
If the membership would find it useful, the Secretariat can help organize online region-specific and/or global level gatherings to discuss these and other priorities and actions on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in this, please contact your relevant regional coordination team, regional Council representative, or another member of the Secretariat!