The flagship outcome of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10), held in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010, was the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and Aichi Targets (Decision X/2), which constitutes the overarching framework for global and multilateral action on biodiversity. Although the Plan and Targets do not explicitly refer to the term ICCAs, practitioners and commentators contend that ICCAs contribute to all of the Targets in practice (see ICCA Consortium Policy Brief No. 1 ). This would make ICCAs one of the – if not the – most important mechanisms for achieving the Targets and Strategic Plan. Although state-governed protected areas still remain hegemonic in conservation policy and law, it is increasingly acknowledged that they are insufficient to conserve biodiversity and halt habitat loss and there is a limited evidence base of the actual effectiveness and conservation outcomes of such protected areas. It is arguably becoming an imperative for Parties to the CBD to recognise and support other areas and mechanisms outside of the state protected area system that de facto contribute to the objectives of the CBD.
Aichi Target 11 in particular necessitates further guidance and safeguards for appropriate recognition of ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’, which could include ICCAs, sacred natural and cultural sites and other forms of indigenous and community conservation initiatives, especially those whose stewards do not wish to be part of the state protected area systems or those which do not conform to the IUCN or CBD definitions of protected areas (see Borrini-Feyerabend and Hill, 2015). In 2015, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas established a Task Force on Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures with the express aim of developing guidance for IUCN members and CBD Parties on such measures.
COP 10 again identified PoWPA Element 2 as a priority issue in need of greater attention and invited Parties to recognise the role of ICCAs in biodiversity conservation, collaborative management and diversification of governance types (Decision X/31/B, para 31(b)). It invited Parties to recognise the contribution of ICCAs (inter alia) within the national protected area system through national legislation or other effective means (Decision X/31/B, para 32(b)), mirroring a similar Decision adopted at COP 9 almost word-for-word. In the same decision, Parties were invited to consider the proposed registry of ICCAs (to be hosted by UNEP-WCMC) in national reporting (Decision X/31/B, para 33(c)) and community conserved areas were identified as an innovative form of protected area governance in the draft reporting framework for PoWPA (Decision X/31, Annex). Aside from the latter point, all of these references to ICCAs – though welcome – provided little if any new and additional recognition or support beyond Decisions adopted at prior COPs. In this sense, their legal weight was only useful as a reiteration of existing state practice as evidenced by earlier Decisions.
In addition, an in-depth review of implementation of PoWPA (considered at SBSTTA 14 in May 2010) found that Element 2 remained the least implemented programme element, raising concerns about the gap between adopted Decisions in support of ICCAs and practical implementation thereof.
Continuing the trend of recognising ICCAs in Decisions on financial mechanisms for protected areas, the Parties identified community conserved areas as one of the priorities for funding on conservation and protected areas (Decision X/24, Annex, para 4.4(a)). Notably, community conserved areas were listed first in this set of priorities, ahead of national and regional systems of protected areas. This suggested growing recognition among state Parties of the critical importance of ICCAs to conservation and possibly an acknowledgment of ICCAs as distinct from national protected area systems.
Furthermore, COP 10 was an important marker as it was the first time that ICCAs were recognised in Decisions on matters other than protected areas, namely, the Decisions on sustainable use and on climate change. This signified a break away from the hitherto intertwined policy links between protected areas and ICCAs, in essence, underscoring the contributions of ICCAs to a range of other aspects of the CBD; this trajectory was continued in subsequent COPs. First, the Parties promoted synergy of the Satoyama Initiative with (inter alia) community conserved areas to advance implementation of Article 10(c) on customary use (Decision X/32, para 7). Second, in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation, the COP invited Parties and other governments to recognise the role of ICCAs in strengthening ecosystem connectivity and resilience, maintaining essential ecosystem services and supporting biodiversity-based livelihoods (Decision X/33, para 8(i)).
Launched at COP 10, Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 acknowledged the significant role of indigenous peoples and local communities in conserving substantial areas of high biodiversity, including through thousands of community conserved areas around the world. This arguably complemented the increasing number of references to ICCAs in COP Decisions and reflects broad recognition in the CBD Secretariat and growing state practice amongst Parties in support of ICCAs.
All COP 10 Decisions are available online.