The Consortium emerged from the close collaboration of like-minded individuals and organizations who started working together in the early 1990s and progressively strengthened their cooperation and engagement. The IUCN CEESP Commission and its thematic groups on governance (TGER) and sustainable livelihoods (TSL) were at the forefront in the 1990s. In 2000, an inter-commission working group called TILCEPA was created between CEESP and WCPA and supported much work on ICCAs by promoting their systematic analysis, with an initial focus at the regional level and in selected countries, such as India and Iran. TILCEPA, TGER and the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP) spearheaded the visibility, discussion and recognition of the ICCA phenomenon in crucial international gatherings and conventions dealing with conservation of nature at the beginning of the new Millennium.
Responding to mounting interest and concerns about ICCAs, several mutually-respected organisations representing indigenous peoples and local communities and their supporting NGOs then established the ‘ICCA Consortium’ at a gathering during the 4th World Conservation Congress in Barcelona (Spain) in October 2008. They agreed on a broad programme of action which provided initial support and stimulus for work towards common ICCA goals. It was during the same gathering that the ICCA Registry was also born as an on-line, internationally recognised ICCA database. Since the Barcelona’s Congress, the membership of the Consortium has steadily grown by about 20% per year. General Assemblies have taken place at least once a year, often taking advantage of international gatherings and policy events, including meetings of the CBD Parties and UN gatherings.
In October 2010 an ICCA-dedicated workshop took place in Shirakawa-Go, Japan, providing an occasion for the Consortium to develop its Vision 2020 and work programme 2011-2014. Until August 2011, partial funding and volunteer engagements had supported the Consortium’s programme of action in various regions and for some global activities, but financial support to the overall programme remained insignificant. In July 2011, however, the Consortium was awarded two grants from the Christensen Fund and UNDP-EEG, finally enabling it to pursue its Vision and work programme with an expanded— if still semi volunteer— secretariat.