Where should ICCAs be in 2020? How should they make a difference for the world and its people? What can the ICCA Consortium do to realize its vision?

The ICCA Consortium Vision 2020. Download the PDF in

On the occasion of CBD COP 10 (October 2010), a large number of organizations and people had a chance to meet, discuss and think together ideas on the subject of ICCAs. Towards the end of the Shirakawa workshop, the participants engaged in an ICCA visioning exercise with a 10-year horizon (from then to 2020). Right after that, they also looked into short-term and mid-term practical initiatives that would help achieve that vision.

The vision reported on the side has been edited and compiled, but redundancies were preserved to maintain the flavour of voices freely adding to one another.

ICCAs at COP 10, Nagoya, October 2010

The visioning exercise for the ICCA Consortium addressed several interconnected levels:

  • knowledge and consciousness of individuals and groups
  • civil society concerned with ICCAs
  • state governments and national legislation
  • international organizations and policies
  • the ICCA Consortium itself
A vision for the knowledge and consciousness of individuals and groups in 2020
  • ICCAs restore hope, they are successful, they ―demonstrate conservation and help maintain bio-cultural diversity worldwide
  • ICCAs bring about a global awareness that conservation is part of the daily life of world communities, and that a global shift is needed, incorporating tradition
  • Beyond issues of conservation, ICCAs are perceived as linked to living and dynamic issues of improved governance; resilience, restoration, adaptation and mitigation of climate change; affirming and fostering human rights and indigenous rights; supporting cultural diversity
  • ICCAs exemplify ―governance in nature rather than ―governance of nature
  • ICCA are part of a global re-awakening of interest in the commons, in common property resources and in the social institutions for their governance
  • Closely linked with ICCAs, other concepts take central stage in environmental work: 1. the commons; 2. bio-cultural diversity; 3. nature vis-à-vis human rights and indigenous rights
  • ICCAs are part of daily language; they convey a sense of endogenous development, reliant on internal and not only external resources
  • People are engaged in promoting environmental justice at the local, national and global level and working on / refining the concept of Mother Earth
  • New morals are emerging, building upon Western/North/South linkages, the integration of sciences, the sense of sacredness and an intercultural knowledge of nature
  • The actual term ―ICCAs is not important… it might well be re-articulated as ―ICCAs and ICCTs – to highlight the difference between areas and the territories, which is crucial for many indigenous peoples – or in other ways not yet imagined
A vision for civil society concerned with ICCAs in 2020
  • Indigenous peoples (IPs) and local communities (LCs) strongly affirm and uphold the meaning and value of ICCAs, in particular with respect to their livelihoods, culture, identity, spirituality and life plans
  • Language, knowledge and practices related to ICCAs are renewed and strengthened as a normal component of life for indigenous peoples and local communities
  • The visions and worldviews of different communities and cultures are brought forward and respected, as well as their needs and their struggles
  • IPs and LCs manifest and mobilise their own capacities for governing and managing ICCAs and sacred natural sites (SNSs)
  • By 2020, at least 25% of ICCAs in the world are restored, ecologically and socially, to an equitable and sustainable situation
  • Women’s engagement in ICCA decision-making is significantly enhanced towards a full parity with men’s
  • Governance and management of natural resources by mobile communities are recognised and supported by state governments; decisions and control are effectively in the hands of the mobile communities
  • Local governance is strengthened and customary law is central to it
  • Many ICCAs are legally owned by IPs and LCs
  • Most government PAs that were superimposed upon ICCAs have been returned to their original owners/managers and are governed as ICCAs, with external support, if necessary, to deal with new challenges
  • Exchange visits, mutual learning and workshops facilitate inclusive discussions and sharing of information amongst ICCA communities and with civil society at large
  • A variety of forums help enhance the awareness and consciousness of people that IPs and LCs have effective governance and management capacities with regard to protected areas; and thatthis needs to be communicated to/recognized by governments, protected area managers and conservation and development organizations
  • Communities are clear and articulate about their values in relation to biodiversity conservation; on the basis of that they are able to effectively plan and take action
  • Communities are now the actors that promote the discussion of protected areas
  • Conservation advocates make less use of legal instruments, guns and fences and find increasingly support from determined communities on the ground
  • Communities are active in conservation with support from their own elders and leaders; their own vision incorporates traditional forms of governance/government but also spirituality and ethics
  • The artistic, literary and musical expressions of ICCA-related communities are documented, protected, preserved and transmitted across generations
  • Adequate and meaningful livelihoods are developed by and for community members, particularly young people, in ways that enhance and sustain ICCAs
  • Traditional knowledge is conveyed to the youth and lively and actively appropriated by them
  • Young people of both gender prepare themselves for governing ICCAs and dealing with crises and issues, including climate change
  • More coherent communication, mutual respect and linkages exist between western sciences and traditional ecological knowledge
  • IPs and LCs debate and take action on self-determination, local ―good governance, autonomy and sovereignty; ICCAs are stronger than today and on their way to become even stronger…
  • All the changes mentioned, including the more effective power-sharing, originate from the IPs and LCs themselves, who manage information and engage in wide consultations and dialogues to develop consensus proposals; many IP and LC leaders sit on UN delegations; they guide a broad change in the dominant development paradigm to have it much more grounded in nature and in cultural diversity
A vision for state governments and national policies in 2020
  • After all these years of struggles… the rights and responsibilities of indigenous peoples and local communities to manage and govern their territories, areas and natural resources are fully recognised and provided solid protection by state legal systems
  • Many ICCAs are socially restored to their own forms of community governance, at times even overcoming obstacles of land ownership and registration
  • In several countries there is even progress beyond that: ICCAs are beacons of an alternative development paradigm; sources of bio-cultural jurisprudence where legality matches legitimacy and mainstream principles are revitalized from the grassroots
  • ICCAs are socially, politically and economically integrated into national development processes; they are perceived as crucial means to promote equity and sustainability
  • ICCAs can be legally recognized as protected areas without undermining the rights or autonomy of their caretaker IPs and LCs, who ultimately decide whether they should be formally included into national protected area systems
  • Legal recognition and respect are provided to mobile communities, and in particular to their territories, social structures, governance institutions, traditional knowledge and common rights
  • Networks of ICCAs are legally recognized and integrated by state governments, including for pastoralists‘ self-governed territories
  • Most protected areas where state governance, shared governance or private governance had originally been imposed upon ICCAs are returned to their original caretakers and governed again as ICCAs (with support, if necessary, to deal with new challenges).
  • Policies and laws are in place for the ―socio-ecological restoration‖ of ICCAs that have been disrupted/ taken over for a variety of purposes
  • ICCAs are an integral part of holistic landscape and seascape policies and programmes, nurturing their surroundings and in turn being nurtured by them
  • National governments agree to support national networks of ICCAs in association with the ICCA Consortium and the ICCA Registry; they provide them with appropriate resources to protect them from perverse incentives and subsidies
  • More and more peoples chose to openly commit to take responsibility to manage their ICCAs (look after their country) as the ICCA Registry and other mechanisms succeed in getting the message across: the IPs/LCs contributions are well recognized, understood and valued
  • Water security is addressed
  • Outreach and networking initiatives take place on a country-by-country basis to share knowledge about sustainable traditional resource management, and then move to the international level
  • Self-governance and local ―good governance‖ are recognized as critical for IPs and LCs, including for their language and cosmovisions; clear agreements are developed with protected area management agencies and other bodies towards self-governance or, as appropriate, shared governance of land and natural resources
  • The ICCA movement has helped to transform state governments, going well beyond a recognition of some local rights: by recognizing the territories conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities, states recognize bio-cultures and accept a lessening of their sovereignty with respect to global sovereignty (e.g., the international human right regime) and local sovereignty (e.g., in ICCAs)
A vision for international organizations and policies in 2020
  • A wide, diverse and inclusive network of ICCAs exists at the global level, with members respecting and mutually supporting each other‘s cultural, political, spiritual and social rights and promoting a worldwide acceptance of sustainable use and conservation principles
  • This global network works toward the health and well-being of people and the planet; it is a bottom up, legitimate, trusted and well respected network— a polycentric global community devoted to equity and sustainability
  • ICCAs are strongly linked ―horizontally‖; and they are ―vertically‖ linked to the scientific community, policy makers and the public at large on the basis of respect and reciprocity
  • IPs play a more central role in multi-national contexts and with regard to conservation
  • Valuing traditional resource knowledge, skills and institutions no longer needs defence or careful word-crafting in international meeting: is a central concept in policy
  • There is better overall communication, as policy makers use the language of real human communities rather than technical terms only
  • It has become generally clear that much more than environmental conservation is achieved through ICCAs as their caretaker IPs and LCs are empowered to take action… for instance, ICCAs are also understood as an effective approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Better collaboration about ICCAs is achieved across initiatives such as ABS and REDD and also across sectors (e.g., trade), and in relation to other conventions beside CBD
  • Awareness, capacity building, and support programs to ICCAs are core to the operations of inter-governmental organizations and national and international NGOs dealing with conservation, development and human rights
  • ICCAs are socially, politically and economically recognized at the global level and the IP and LC movement has taken centre stage in the global political arena (bottom up approach to conservation and livelihoods)
  • To achieve its own vision (e.g., COP 10 decisions and strategic plan) the global community has agreed that it needs a much better recognition of the role of IPs and LCs in natural resource governance and management, stressing the customary sustainable use of biodiversity and the fact that ICCAs play a central role in conservation
  • Protected areas are no longer ―assumed‖ to be state-governed, exclusionary phenomena and it is well known that they can be under a variety of governance types: the 2014 World Parks Congress has been key in reaffirming, demonstrating, and promoting this new perception and approach in accordance with IUCN and CBD policy
  • There exists a Global Financial Mechanism exclusively dedicated to civil society projects and initiatives related to the environment
  • With the appropriate recognition of contributions and role of IPs and LCs in conservation, the CBD targets adopted in 2010 are actually smashed (reached before and beyond expectations)!
  • Multilateralism is strengthened, all countries have endorsed UNDRIP and signed the CBD; the relationship among diverse nations, protected areas (including transboundary), ICCAs and conservation in the landscape is clarified, strengthened and acted upon
  • The rights of peoples, such as described in UNDRIP, are applied/ respected
  • Countries and peoples develop and sign-on also to a ―United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Local Communities
  • ICCAs are understood and widely appreciated as a tool/instrument for the recognition of rights, and as actually necessary for UNDRIP and other instruments to be fully respected/applied; it is also clear that ICCAs must also be respected within state-recognized protected areas\
  • Rights to territories are respected as are the indigenous peoples and local communities themselves and their sacred relationships to such territories; statements describing such relationships are officially adopted into POWPA; indigenous governance is respected and supported also because its relationship to human survival is much better understood
A vision for the ICCA Consortium in 2020
  1. Vis-à-vis the world:
    • The Consortium has been instrumental in articulating and fostering the coming to reality of the multi-level vision described above, and in placing ICCAs squarely on the policy agenda for conservation, development, and human rights at both international and national level
    • The Consortium has been instrumental in bringing about a clear understanding of ICCAs, including their relation to human and indigenous rights, in particular the right to self-determination, their ties with local livelihoods through sustainable use, their crucial embedding in culture, their relationship with sacred natural sites (SNS) and local identity (e.g., peoples‘ identity, ―ecological integrity, etc.), their fitting within the larger landscape / seascape (satoyama/ satoumi) and their role to respond to global change (e.g., though local resilience, action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, etc.).
    • The Consortium has helped to identify a diversity of ICCA types, the options and opportunities for their recognition and support, as well as the possible pitfalls and hazards inherent in such processes
    • The Consortium has been pro-active to foster the participatory analyses of ICCA-related issues, threats and opportunities, and concrete action for their recognition and support
    • The Consortium has supported a diversity of approaches to such action and built alliances with social movements (e.g., indigenous peoples, mobile indigenous peoples, small-scale fishers, food sovereignty, peasants, women, custodians of agro-biodiversity, faith communities ) in a spirit of collaboration and mutual understanding
    • The Consortium has develop strong partnerships also with international organizations, such as, among others, UNDP GEF SGP, UNEP WCMC, the CBD Secretariat, UNFPII, EMRIP, the relevant UN Rapporteurs and the IUCN Global Protected Area Programme
    • The Consortium has established links with a diverse group of researchers, based in institutions around the world, who are committed to engaging in robust participatory research with communities and civil society partners, with a particular focus on assessing the costs and benefits of ICCAs
    • The Consortium has helped to create direct linkages from the most local to the global, in both analysis and action, respecting their diversity of timing and concepts but fostering mutual awareness and learning
    • The Consortium has helped IPs and LCs to document their ICCA governance rights; it has assisted IPs and LCs to build their own capacities to defend such rights (e.g., though development of legally-recognized governing bodies at ICCA-level, national ICCA Federations, ‘Grassroots Universities’ for territorial leaders with strong inter-cultural orientation), to identify impending threats and to generate appropriate forms of support to protect ICCAs
  2. Internally:
    • The Consortium is an inclusive institution, engaging a large set of organizations and individuals and their diverse capacities
    • The Consortium has reached internal clarity about its own operations as an association that includes many diverse organizations with some common goals and values
    • The diversity of related languages, cultures, histories, world views, and value systems is what makes ―ICCAs so vibrant and important; this diversity is a great source of strength but also a weakness when trying to build alliances at national and global levels; the Consortium has found a way to be effective while remaining respectful of this rich and fundamental internal diversity
    • As part of the above, the Consortium has fostered a variety of opportunities for mutual exchanges and learning and used a diversity of outreach mechanisms (e.g., web-site, publications, mini-videos, social media groups, Wikipedia) locally, nationally and globally
    • The Consortium has agreed that concepts and terminology need to fit the richness and diversity of the understandings of the peoples most closely concerned with ICCAs; in this sense concepts and terminology may be multiple, and may evolve as they are used; the Consortium accompanies such multiplicity and evolution rather than being protective of any purist concepts or unique terminology
    • The Consortium has been working with and through its Members, having feet on the ground in all countries where active Consortium members are based
    • The Consortium has created plenty of opportunities for regional chapters/ assemblies (e.g., African or Latin American ICCA forums) and promoted region-specific analyses and responses to the opportunities and threats facing ICCAs, including action from the CBD secretariat and others
    • The Consortium has fairly addressed the representation of different constituent communities in its own governance setting (e.g., members from different regions, gender-balance, IPs well represented).
    • The Consortium has established a council of elders to act as key advisors‘ for its overall strategy and as helpers / mediators along the way

First published on 07/30/2015, and last updated on 10/06/2023