ICCAs in Latin America are sites of origin and present homes of a great diversity of indigenous peoples. They are also the territories that welcomed Afro-descendant communities after their emancipation, as well as groups of migrant peasants.

The issues
Many of these diverse peoples and communities have demonstrated a respectful relationship with their territories, which has resulted in both the conservation of biodiversity and the continuation of their own diverse cultures. Their traditional practices and forms of knowledge are of great value for conserving nature and for the sustainable management of natural resources. In these current times of global environmental and social crisis, ICCAs serve as examples for humanity.

And yet, ICCAs are threatened. The threats come from the models of economic development and exploitation of natural resources imposed upon them (intensive agriculture and livestock, mining, megaprojects, mega infrastructure); the processes of acculturation related to official programs of education, health care and new means of mass communication; and from the national policies and legislations that promote these models. State laws and policies pay little attention to ethnic and cultural diversity, and seek, rather, the cultural integration and homogenization of their citizens, often ignoring international commitments about indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities. Threats also come from the various types of violence linked to drug trafficking and illicit crops, from groups that move on the margins of the law, displacements, crossfire and social violence, as well as social, racial and ethnic discrimination. The cultural loss due to external causes (imposition of the dominant model) as well as internal forces (loss of values ​​and ancestral norms; loss of pride, especially among younger generations; migration to urban centers; corruption), undermine ancestral authorities and customary practices of social, cultural and environmental management.

Strategies and responses
Many indigenous peoples and local communities in Latin America counter these threats by claiming their fundamental rights as indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities. This is particularly true in the cases of land rights, identity and self-determination. These communities work for self-recognition and find ways to resist threats. They seek to strengthen their traditional systems of knowledge and retain their ancestral authorities. This is what allows them to advocate for changes in policy and legislation at the local and national levels. They meet the challenge posed by other worldviews in much the same way: by adapting new knowledge and technologies, and by establishing networks to make visible the contributions of their ICCAs to the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.

In Latin America, the ICCA Consortium implements an alert and defense system specific to ICCAs. It also works on capacity-building and the creation of national and regional networks. It facilitates meetings where members can share learning and strategies. And it highlights emblematic and critical cases, seeking ways to foster recognition for, and fund the work of, ICCAs at the local level and with its own functionning.

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Parque Nacional Bernardo O’Higgins/Territorio Kawésqar Waes: Conservación y Gestión en un Territorio Ancestral

Este trabajo sobre el parque nacional Bernardo O’Higgins en el territorio kawésqar waes, en Chile, busca definir una línea base de los recursos naturales, identificar las áreas con distinta vocación de uso, y el potencial económico asociado a actividades de turismo, incorporando los intereses del pueblo originario involucrado ancestralmente con los territorios protegidos. Read more ▸

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