Darwin Traditional Knowledge project participates in global biodiversity consultations

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The Second Global Thematic Dialogue for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework was held virtually between the 1-3 December 2020, while the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Consultations on Traditional Knowledge with Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities was conducted on 4 December 2020. The Darwin Traditional knowledge project participated in these dialogues as our main aim is to progress the level of inclusion, protection and respect of traditional knowledge in both policy and practice.

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework event was organised by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to provide an opportunity for Indigenous peoples and local communities to reflect on the recent developments of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, including the zero draft and monitoring framework.

Our concerns with the post-2020 framework, which was echoed by many participants in last week’s dialogue, are particularly in regards to the new Target 19 ‘By 2030, ensure that quality information, including traditional knowledge, is available to decision makers and public for the effective management of biodiversity through promoting awareness, education and research’. As it is currently worded, this is a weaker Target compared to the previous one (Aichi Target 18), and it was expressed by many during the dialogue that it felt like a step back rather than progressing this important agenda. The key issues with the current wording is that the Target is not solely focused on traditional knowledge, nor does it acknowledge the rights of Indigenous peoples to Free Prior Informed Consent. We therefore suggested the following rewording ‘By 2030, ensure that traditional knowledge, innovations, practices and technologies are equally respected, maintained and included in policy and practice following an established process for Free Prior Informed Consent’.

Furthermore, both of last week’s dialogues highlighted that many of the goals and targets of the post-2020 framework and GEF would benefit from taking a more right-based and participatory approach, to ensure that Indigenous people and local communities’ sustainable customary use and their traditional lands are protected. In Guyana, the Darwin Traditional Knowledge project has been trialling a new approach to facilitate dialogue between Indigenous communities and decision makers, using participatory video. With a focus on rights but also the critical aspect of maintaining and promoting traditional knowledge and its associated practices, the project has used its findings to develop a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan, soon to go into public consultation. As the post-2020 global biodiversity framework goes forward into 2021 and the next round of GEF funding is established, it will be important for national and international civil society organisations, countries, and projects such as ours, to support Indigenous people and local communities’ to ensure their knowledge is appropriately acknowledged and included in these global initiatives.

Jay Mistry
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Professor of Geography - Royal Holloway University of London

Jay has more than 22 years’ experience in teaching, researching and building capacity for natural resource management with local communities. Her particular interests include supporting local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, local environmental governance, action research using participatory video and capacity building for natural resource management.